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Real Life Nutrition Questions Answered

Real Life Fitness Questions Answered

Emma Brown
Nutritionist

Janet Aylott
Nutritionist

Kelly Marshall
Fitness Consultant

Q.

Should I get some MBT's?

Hello, I?m thinking of investing in a pair of these or similar, do you have any advice or recommendations? Had sudden onset 'non-specific lower back pain' earlier this year and ever since have had quite painful joints/muscle pain especially in my legs. Dr says I have low levels of vitamin D so I am working on that but thought the MBT's might help with my core strength etc. Hope this makes sense!

A.

Our expert says...

Hi, Well, let me highlight the suggested science behind these and then give you my opinion about it and answer your question:

“Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) makes all surfaces like walking in sand. Unlike most conventional training shoes that only support and cushion your feet, the unique lever spring action of MBT's challenge the core strengthening muscles to be more active. This creates good posture and increases shock absorption for all the joints. It is suggested that MBT can restore lost movement in spinal joints and develop core muscle strength. “

The MBT marketing identifies how the majority of people are too rushed in our lifestyle and we are often pressurized into a forward stance or worse our posture gets forgotten completely. As we walk about the hard surfaces we walk on are putting our body through extremes of unnatural pressure; overloading the joints from the ankles, knees, hips to lower back and upwards through the spine.

“The MBT range of footwear is designed to allow you to walk on a soft, uneven surface in order to stimulate exceptional muscle use; so increasing tone, alignment throughout the body, benefiting circulation and giving you a feeling of overall good health and well being.

Ok, so that is the theory behind MBT and I agree with a large percentage of the principles they put forward. What I would say, however, is that the impact of the MBT occurs only during the wearing of the shoe and I have seen evidence that intermittent as well as overuse of the MBT can cause muscular tension and muscle pain issues. They appear to be more of a short-term remedy/option for something that can be more effectively tackled through stabilisation exercise and not really a long-term fix.

To answer your question, the MBT’s would not serve to improve your core strength and I would not recommend you invest money into them for that purpose. They will not enhance your existing walking activity to new heights in providing an accelerated/enhanced sculpting of your body and in reality there is currently no research proving that MBT’s help someone even burn a significant amount of extra calories to ‘normal’ walking.

TIP : In fact you can provide a better benefit to your posture and core for free without MBT’s by simply trying to clench your butt muscles while walking (difficult to do at first but persist) as well as drawing your belly button into your spine. Activating these muscles not only stabilises your spine and helps you walk with more strength, and better posture, but also burns more calories!!

To solve your lower back issue you need to see someone who specialises in musculoskeletal issues (like a corrective exercise specialist, physiotherapist, sports therapist or musculoskeletal specialist) to be properly assessed and be prescribed bespoke exercises to retrain your core muscles and ensure muscle balance and strength around your pelvis and lower back.

It is difficult to prove or disprove the effectiveness of certain things available in the fitness market, but what I would say is that there are a lot of suggested ‘quick-fixes’ which just aren’t real! I would personally comment that I have never recommended them to any of my clients, so try to seek professional guidance to tackle your lower back and core strength in the most effective way.

Hope this helps

Kelly

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