A simple biomechanical observation started what is now the biggest innovation in footwear since the running shoe technology developments in the 1970's. The rocker sole shoe trend started in 1996 after Swiss engineer Karl Muller discovered that walking barefoot in the paddy fields of Korea changed his posture and relieved his back, knee and Achilles tendon pain. He also discovered that the Masai tribesman of East Africa don't suffer from back pain and are well known for their excellent posture. In both cases, the ground is soft and results in a soft landing heel strike. He realized that walking on hard modern surfaces like pavements is what causes much of the back, knee and heel pain we suffer from. So he set about to design a shoe with a different approach to imitate a soft landing. Hence the first curved sole Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) shoe was born.
The basic premise of MBT's is that because of their rocker bottom, they result in an active rolling movement from heel to toe, decreasing impact forces, spreading the load across the foot more evenly and minimizing stresses up the kinetic chain.
By 2000, roughly 20,000 MBTs were sold in Europe alone and they gained popularity when celebrities started wearing them. Their popularity drew many other shoe manufacturers to design their own versions and to make marketing claims based on the instability underfoot concept, such as "Toning Shoes", "Total Body Shoes", Gyms for the Feet", all claiming to tone muscles, burn calories and even reduce cellulite. They based these claims on a study conducted by Sheffield Hallam University which showed an 18% increase in lower extremities muscle activity and a 2.5% increase in oxygen intake while walking (in MBT shoes as compared to conventional shoes) and a 38% increase in lower limbs muscle activity and a 28% increase in buttocks muscle activity while standing (in MBT shoes as compared to conventional shoes).
So, do they really work? The Sheffield Hallam University study certainly does indicate that wearing MBTs engages your muscles more and to some extent reduces strain on the body while walking. But there is no evidence that MBTs can help get rid of cellulite and burn extra calories. In fact, these claims are no longer made by manufacturers, but the perception still exists.
There is certainly anecdotal evidence from wearers that they have noticed improved tone in their legs and buttocks or have experienced relief from Achilles Tendonitis, heel pain or back pain. But there are also many people who have had to stop wearing them because they have aggravated or even caused bad backs or hips.
Dr Chris Kassaris, a board certified podiatrist in Connecticut, says that the smooth rocking motion can help certain patients who suffer from arthritic ankles, inflexible big toes or pain on the ball of the feet. But he quickly points out that there is no real evidence that changing your gait so dramatically will tone your muscles and help you lose weight. The only way to really do that, he says, is with good old fashioned diet and exercise. And he adds that if you notice any discomfort or pain after you start wearing rocker shoes, stop use immediately to avoid serious injury.
While MBTs and rocker bottoms are not for everyone, one thing is for sure, they are here to stay. They are available in many shapes and colors including the original MBTs, the most popular and affordable Sketchers Shape Ups and Reebok's Easytone. More recently, manufacturers have launched styles that are more dressy and there are even rocker flip-flops and sandals called Fit-Flops, so you can tone your legs all summer long!
With temperatures in the single digits in many parts of the US right now, keeping your feet warm can be difficult. For most people, cold toes and feet are nothing more than just that and can easily be remedied. But for anyone with diabetes, cold toes and feet can be dangerous and lead to much more severe problems. In addition, common foot warming techniques are not appropriate for diabetics, especially those with neuropathy. Warming your feet in front of the fire or in a bowl of warm water, for example, can lead to burns if there is any neuropathy. So what is a diabetic to do? The last thing you want is frost bite or poor circulation as a result of frozen toes! The key thing is to find ways to warm your feet in which you can safely control the temperature your feet are exposed to. If you want to warm them in a bowl of warm water, always test the water with a thermometer or your elbow first. But don't soak them for too long as this can cause dryness and cracks. Never warm them in front of a fire or radiator. Instead, you can rub a light moisturizer on your feet, massaging them and increasing the circulation which will help to warm them. Wear warm thick socks, preferably wool which insulates well and wicks away any moisture. Be sure to choose socks that are loose fitting and without tight elastic around your ankles or calves and socks without seams to avoid blisters. If you are going outside, a good pair of winter boots, preferably lined, are a good choice. And always wear socks with them. If your feet get wet from ice and snow, remove your wet socks and shoes immediately, dry your feet gently but thoroughly and put on a pair of dry socks and shoes or boots.
Check your feet daily, especially after being outside and exposed to the cold, paying particular attention to any changes in color and shape, cuts, red spots, swelling and infected toenails. If you notice anything unusual, contact your doctor immediately. And invest in a good pair of warm slippers to wear around the house. They will both warm your feet and make walking more comfortable.
It's easy to pack on a few pounds during the winter months when exercise and activity is more difficult, but this can wreak havoc with your glucose levels and of course put more weight on your feet. So, plan ahead. Schedule an indoor exercise class, swimming, cycling or yoga and be sure to wear protective athletic shoes that fit well and provide good support.
Take care of yourself during the cold months so that you are healthy and in good shape, ready to embrace and enjoy the warmer weather when it arrives!
Whether you love or hate UGGs and regardless of which side of the UGG fashion debate you fall on, you'll find that podiatrists and foot and ankle specialists are not UGG fans for many reasons. Because UGGs have little to no support, regular wearing can cause arch and heel pain and throw your walk out of whack, which then extends the problems to your ankles, knees, hips and even your back. The soft, comfy UGGs are very roomy, allowing the ankles to roll inwards causing wearers to adopt the "UGG Shuffle".
Because they are so comfy and easy to slip on and off, fans of UGGs tend to wear them everyday and for many hours a day. The warm shearling liner can really make your feet sweat creating a perfect breeding ground for fungus and bacteria.
So, what's an UGG fan to do? Should you throw away your most prized possession? Not necessarily. But podiatrists do recommend wearing an insert in your UGGs to provide better support and to wear socks and spray the inside of your UGGs with an anti-fungul spray at least once a month. And as difficult as it may be, try alternating with other boots or footwear to give your feet a break.
UGGs are here to stay, well at least for the foreseeable future, so by making a few small changes, you can protect your feet and enjoy your UGGs for years to come.
Thanksgiving is the busiest travel time of the year. That means thousands of people moving through airports which also means thousands of shoeless feet walking through security. This can be potentially risky for your feet as conditions like toenail fungus, warts, bacterial infections and athlete's foot can be spread! So, what can you do to keep your feet safe? Wear thick socks. And if that doesn't work with your shoe choice, then at the very least, wear nylon hose to protect yourself. The other lurking danger is the risk of a heavy bag falling on your barefeet so stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
On that note, have a Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels.
Why is it that our feet can be sweaty even when the rest of our body isn't? And why do some people suffer from smelly feet? The answer lies in the fact that our feet have the most sweat glands in the body - roughly 250,000 in fact! So when we get hot, the first place to sweat is our feet. Sweating is our body's cooling mechanism - the evaporation of sweat is what cools us. Now here's the rub: most of the time we are sweating (think exercise) we are wearing socks and shoes so there is nowhere for the sweat to evaporate. Especially if you are wearing socks and shoes made from synthetic materials. So, your feet stay wet and hot and bacteria (which are everywhere) and thrive in warm moist environments, multiply and release odor - hence, smelly feet. There are things you can do to minimise this problem: choose cotton or wool socks as they allow your feet to breathe, go barefoot as much as possible and wash your feet with warm soapy water and dry them thoroughly.
If you suffer from excessive sweating on your feet, you could opt for a Botox treatment to block the nerves and "paralyze" the sweat glands.
Follow these tips and your feet will smell like roses....or at least, will not be stinky!.