After dominating the negative heel market for several years, MBT have finally got a competitor, with the introduction of the Chung Shi shoes range to the UK. Despite the name, The Chung Shi (apparently meaning rest and movement) are a German owned company, whereas MBT or Masai Barefoot Technology are Swiss owned. Both are classed as EU class 1 medical products and both have won International Sports Organisation Awards (ISPO). MBT have been around since 1992 and the Chung Shi from 2000. This summer this type of footwear has grabbed national headlines with Jenny Bond writing about them and Jerry Hall sporting them, whereas Liz Hurley and Jemima Khan have been seen out with their MBTs.
Walking on Chung Shi shoes and MBT shoes is like walking on sand. The instability of the shoe mean the calves, thighs, hips and buttocks muscles have to work in tandem to balance and align the body. By using more muscle groups, the strain upon joints and discs is reduced. MBT claim there is a 19% reduction in stress on the knees and hip joint. Chung Shi don’t have any proven claims but i guess working on the same concept the figures will be similar.
The footwear effect is more aggressive, having less layers of sole, the foot receives more feedback on the walking surface, so the body can adapt accordingly. The company argues that too much softening and shock absorption creates instability which leads to inadequate feedback. Instability makes it more difficult to align posture and can overuse certain muscles and tendons, increasing the risk of injury.
Both shoes will help to improve posture and give a more upright gait. Wearing such footwear not only protects and strengthens; it will improve coordination and stamina, burn extra calories, tone up “problem areas” such as thighs, hips and buttocks and improve posture. Even whilst standing, the upper body straightens and the entire musculo-skeletal system is stabilised.
Personally, i prefer to wear MBT, as I feel that the shoe is better made, and is backed by medical evidence, but to be honest the competitors shoe does look a bit more ‘normal’.
Steve Brookson suggests that you read an interesting article & price comparison of Chung Shi.