This study from researchers at the University of Salzburg in Austria that looked at spinal alignment and muscle activity of selected muscles in the back while standing in typical shoes and MBT shoes.
The main findings were:
Results showed that wearing unstable MBT shoes increased flexion at the mid-thoracic level (0.8°; P = 0.001) and led to greater mean velocities of angular displacement at the thoracolumbar (11.2%; P = 0.003) and at the lumbopelvic (10.8%; P = 0.02) regions, accompanied by more lumbar erector spinae activity (18.2%; P = 0.003).
– this was done during standing and not walking
– it does confirm that there are changes in the low back, spine and muscle activity with the use of unstable or toning shoes
While adding to the body of knowledge on the biomechanical effects of toning shoes, more work is needed to determine the actual ‘clinical’ effects of those changes.
Intermittent claudication is the name given to the symptoms that occur, usually in the calf muscle, in those with poor circulation. It occurs after walking a set distance because the oxygen supply to the muscle cannot meet the muscles’ needs. This pilot study from researchers at the University of Salford in the United Kingdom and published in the Journal of Vascular Nursing looked at the use of a rocker sole shoe which mimics the action of toning shoes in a group of people with intermittent claudication. The participants were given two therapeutic shoes that were identical, except that one had a specific three-curve rocker sole. Participants then did walking trials to determine the distance until the claudication pain occurred and the intensity of the pain. They found that while wearing the rocker sole shoes, the distance until claudication increased and the intensity of the claudication pain was less.
This study is promising. It was only in eight people and was only done in one session. It is not known if the benefits demonstrated would be apparent after a longer period if adaptation to the rocker soles shoes was allowed to occur.
Link to study