So I got some new shoes the other week: Masai Barefoot Technology, they're called, and all I have to say about that is this: if the Masai have to spend the amount of money on their bare feet that I had to spend on these shoes, it's a wonder they can eat.
Anyway, I promised a review of the shoes.
They were recommended to me by a number of orthopods and physical therapists for plantar fasciitis. That's a condition in which the bottom of your foot stretches too much, or doesn't stretch enough, or something, and you end up with heel pain that makes it nearly impossible to walk after a day of work. So, taking a deep breath, I ordered a pair of these babies online.
Consider the MBT shoe: it is big. As in, it looks like a basketball's been cut in half and glued to the underside of the shoe. In addition, it has some sort of rocker action, the upshot of which is that when you stand normally, you actually have to balance your weight over the middle of the shoe. This led Chef Boy to ask, "Do they come with training wheels?" a reference to my fabled clumsiness. My sister remarked that that quip led her to consider Chef Boy her hero, and I said, "Shut up."
So you've put the things on and are balancing cheerfully in the middle of your foot. Or, alternatively, you've rocked back onto your heels so as to not have to waggle constantly to stand up. The first thing you notice when you start to walk is this: they're a very well-balanced shoe. As in, even *I* can't fall over in them. So snark away, Chef Boy and Beloved Sister, I'm doin' all right.
The second thing you notice is how heavy the damned things are. I don't know what sort of technology the engineers stuck into the oversized soles of these shoes, but it seems to be made of lead and gold. They're *heavy*.
That said, my heel hurts about the same after a day at work. But! On the morning after, it does not hurt *at all*, which means that I can pretty much walk to the bathroom rather than having to hobble and curse. Also, they do give my legs a good workout--not so much at work, since I'm used to walking around for twelve hours, but boy hidey! After a thirty-minute trot on the treadmill, I can feel muscles I only dimly remember from comparative anatomy class.
I can also run in them for several minutes at a stretch, having to stop only because my aerobic capacity is shit, not because my shins hurt. That is good. Very, very good.
And, strangely or not, the rocker-action of the shoe makes it easier to walk fast or trot than it does to walk slowly. That's nice, especially when you're trying to get as many miles in on the treadmill as you can. You have to walk with a shorter stride and in a more concentrated manner, or else your toes will brush the ground and you'll lose your rhythm. It's more like a forced march than a walk, but then, treadmilling is always more like a forced walk for me.
I'm sitting here contemplating the insertion points of my quadriceps--I can feel all of them, on both legs--after a thirty-six minute trot on the treadmill in the shoes. That's okay. My heel hurts a little, but not terribly, which is better than okay. And my bank account hurts a little more, but I'm dealing with that.
Bottom line: If you're happy with your Danskos, keep 'em. If, however, you spend the majority of the day wondering when the hell your heel will quit hurting, it's worth it to try a pair on to see if they work for you.