Footwear that treats your feet

Attention students: your sprint on campus can now feel like a walk on the beach!

The new Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) shoe made by Swiss Masai is the “first physiological footwear.” It is said to reduce cellulite, improve posture, tone muscles and ease back problems.

With its multi-layered sole, MBT shoes convert flat, firm, artificial surfaces into natural, uneven ground. Similar to walking in the sand of a beach, the chunky MBT sole creates instability and challenges muscles to work more vigorously.
Called “the world’s smallest gym,” the MBT shoe has been highlighted for its ability to increase abdominal muscle activity, decrease stress on hip and knee joints by 19%, increase buttock muscle activity by 9%, increase lower limbs activity by 18% and rear thigh muscle activity by 19%.

According to, many professional athletes use these shoes for regeneration, prevention and healing of injuries, as well as for coordination training. Perhaps what is even more appealing is the fact that one may burn calories and protect joints by simply wearing the shoes in your everyday life.
“I really do like the concept of these sneakers because they’re ‘healthy’ for you in that they help you with your posture and toning,” says Aliza Moorji, 19, a sophomore at SJU, who doesn’t particularly care for the fashion of the shoe, but acknowledges that it is difficult to find something both helpful and glamorous.
“They’re good for those who don’t want to go to the gym. Walking in the sneakers would be equivalent to a work out,” said Moorji.

Invented by Swiss engineer, Karl Muller, the footwear was inspired by the African Masai tribesmen who are very athletic with lean bodies and who do not commonly wear shoes or have back and joint problems. Made in both a sneaker ($245-$270) and a sandal ($159-$235), MTBs were first launched in Europe and are now available in over 20 countries.

“The shoe is quite popular. I like it”, said Janell Babbie, an employee who has worked for over one year at the shoe store Naturalizer, located at Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream.

“At least two customers purchase the sneaker each day and most of our customers come back to buy a second pair,” she said.

Babbie, who also owns a pair herself, enjoys the fact that the shoe has trained her to walk properly as they do in her homeland of St. Vincent Island.

Although MBTs have gained a firm role in the market, some students are not yet convinced that such a shoe truly aids the body.

“I don’t believe that a shoe could do that much,” said Mario Lopes, 19, a sophomore studying business. “It sounds more like an overpriced gimmick than an exercise device. I think I’ll just stick to my workout at the gym.”

When buying a pair of MBTs, customers receive not only a DVD instruction manual on how to walk in the footwear, but also get a brief lesson on standing and walking by salespeople who have been trained by the MBT company.

Gaining a great deal of exposure, the new phenomenon has been featured on television shows such as The Rachel Ray show, Dr. Phil, and Good Morning America.

“We tested it on a viewer and she said that the results were excellent and that she definitely saw a difference,” said Liliana Cipriano, production secretary of the Rachel Ray show.

“After the show aired, we received an overwhelming amount of phone calls on where viewers could buy the product.”

The MBT can be found in any Naturalizer store, at Turnpike Comfort Shoes located at 186-06 Union Turnpike, The Walking Company at Roosevelt Field mall and many other stores/companies on the web.