Foot Pain and Rocker Bottom Shoes. What Gives?

Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) is another one of the newer trends in modern shoe gear. Today we have barefoot runners, shoes that look like gloves and shoes that purportedly give you nice gluteals! What is next? One type of shoe that has always interested me is the rocker-bottom style MBT.

The MBT shoe was built to mimic the walking style of the Masai warriors of Eastern Africa. These nomadic warriors travel dozens of miles by foot in a sandy desert terrain. Their walking and running style or “gait” is different than most cultures. They have small quick steps landing more on the ball of their foot than their heel. Because of their gait they are using different muscle groups at different points in their stride. It can be hypothesized that their slender build and incredible vertical jumping abilities are attributed to this. I would argue it has more to do with their constant exercise, and diet of roots and vegetables…and not going to Whataburger twice a week. Think about how much more energy it takes to walk, run and jump in sand than on grass or concrete. MBT’s try to put your foot in a shoe that mimics the sandy surface.

Whether MBT’s will give you the buns of your dreams or simply get you funny looks from co-workers is for you to find out. Here is my opinion:

  • MBT’s advertise to strengthen the lower back, improve posture and balance, activate protective muscles. With MBT’s and rocker bottom shoes (Sketcher’s shape-ups, Reebok easy-tone) you are standing on an unstable shoe. It is comparable to standing on a yoga ball or Bosu-ball. The muscles in your feet, legs and core are constantly firing. This is different from when you are standing in normal shoes on solid ground. Your body’s muscles are either contracted or lax. With rocker bottom shoes, in a standing position, you are truly using muscles just standing still. Without noticing the subtle difference, you tighten your back and buns- improving your posture and balance.
  • Benefits for MBT’s in the Podiatry realm include one of the most common complaints ofplantar fasciitis. The rolling from the heel to toe bypasses the stretch on the plantar fascia. There are other pathologies where MBT’s could be indicated (metatarsalgia, Charcot Foot, etc.) but it should be a very specific, case by case basis.
  • I don’t recommend MBT’s for Achilles tendoniitis and knee pain. The rocking nature of the MBT puts extra stress on the back of the heel and achilles tendon. It is similar to stretching the calf by dropping your heel off of a stair. This can cause a flare in achilles tendon problems.

In the end, I believe Masai Barefoot Technology has a niche in today’s shoe market. Whether it works for you is yet to be seen. MBT’s have a complete learning system with their shoes. I recommend watching the training video before purchasing a pair. The true Masai Barefoot Technology encourages a complete change in the way that you walk. Is it for everybody? No. Could you benefit? Maybe.

As always, never self diagnose and always consult with Dr. Bowman before seeking any treatments. Dr. Bowman can be reached at 713-467-8886 and online appointments can be made at

Category: Footwear

Tags: Achilles Tendonitis, Back Pain, Barefoot Running, Charcot Foot, Exercise, Fitness Shoes, Foot Health, foot pain, Footwear, heel Pain, Knee Pain, Masai Barefoot Technology, Plantar Fasciitis, Rocker Bottom Shoes, shoes