Swiss footwear company Masai Barefoot Technology promotes its shoes’ ability to simulate barefoot walking on an unstable surface. Now research from the U.K. suggests that MBT footwear is actually associated with a range of ankle motion during gait that is even greater than that seen while barefoot.
Investigators from Parkside Hospital in London found that 32 healthy subjects walked with significantly greater range of motion in the frontal and sagittal planes while wearing an MBT sandal than while walking barefoot. The sandal model was utilized in the study so that motion analysis markers could be placed directly on the foot for a more accurate measure of foot motion, in contrast to previous MBT studies in which markers were placed on the outside of the shoe.
The findings, published in the January issue of the Journal of Foot & Ankle Research, suggest that MBT footwear may have clinical benefits for patients in whom ankle range of motion limitations are adversely affecting other aspects of the kinetic chain. However, the authors cautioned that if the shoes require greater range of motion than a patient has available, soft tissue damage could result.