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MBT FAQ & Care Instructions

MBT Footwear FAQ

What styles are currently available? How do I order?

ArrowThis is our FAQ page. For general information and to view 100+ styles currently in stock, please visit our main page for MBT shoes.

If you have any questions or would like to order over the phone please call us toll-free at (866) 947-6789.


How is MBT different from other shoes?

The MBT was originally designed to ease back and joint pain.  Because of its unique curvilinear sole it reduces shock to the entire skeletal system while strengthening and toning your muscles.  It turns ordinary hard surfaces into soft, uneven surfaces ? much like sand ? which decreases impact to your joints.

Ordinary shoes create repeated compression with every step, whereas the gentle, rolling action of the MBT encourages a relaxed, natural stride.  Everyday walking with MBT will release muscle tension as the body becomes more balanced.

Many muscle problems occur from poor posture and faulty gait patterns.  MBT can greatly improve, and in some cases, eliminate certain conditions by realigning posture and correcting walking structure.

Increased activity through the shoe strengthens the core muscles of the body.  MBT tightens and tones the feet and ankles, calves, hamstrings, upper and inner thighs, buttocks, stomach and back.  You will become stronger and more resilient just by wearing the MBT in your everyday activities! 

Can I still get the _____ style?

MBT updates continue as new seasonal styles arrive, and others are discontinued. Please note that the availability of styles may be different in the United States, UK, Canada and other markets. We carry a wide range of MBT shoes but we are not able to carry every style from every region.

Please note that the following MBT styles are either discontinued or from previous years and are no longer available: Ice, Shadow, Beach, Sand, Voi White, Voi Black, Volcano, Chapa GTX Coffee, Barabara Black, Lami Caviar Black, Lami Red, Lami Birch, Lifestyle Red, Kilima Charcoal, Kinga, Kings Rock, Kisumu Blie, Jeta Chocolate, Sapatu White, Kafala Black, Chapa Silver, Milano, Wave, Kafala Coffee, Black Casual, Brown Casual, Barabara Chocolate, Barabara Olive, Isiolo Brown, Lapulapu Black, Chapa Beluga, Lapulapu Dawn, Lapulapu Olive, Lapulapu Rock, Kisumu Chocolate, Tambo Black, Siha Black, Siha White, Tariki Beluga, Barabara Black, Barabara Chocolate, Tariki Chill. Men's Saputu White, Night, Sport Black High, Chapa GTX Coffee, Takiri Black, Takiri Walnut, Sport White High, M. Walk Red, M. Walk Vector, M. Walk Orange, M. Walk Pink, M. Walk Green, Raha Black, Raha Chill, Wall Street, M. Walk Black, Boost, Boost Rose, Garissa, Boost Blue, Gil Gil Black, Gil Gil Brown, Kilima, Silvermoon, Lifestyle Red, Lifestyle Blue, Professional White, Professional Black, Fire, Wingu Blue, Volcano, Unono Chocolate, Midnight, Sawa Black, Safiri Chill, Safiri Black, Unono Black, Tariki Black, Staka Beluga, Barabara Smoke, Business Black, Changa Birch, Changa Cork, Changa Denim, Chapa Navy, Ema Black, Fumba Cinnabar, Kamba Black, Kaya Black, Kaya Dawn, Kaya Smoke, Kiada Black, Kiatu Black, Koa Kodiac, Koshi Black, Koshi Chocolate and Flame.

What is a "Negative Heel?"

The sole of the MBT is curvilinear.  The negative heel creates minimal heel strike and lessens the impact to your joints and skeletal system. The curve also minimizes plantar flexion by creating a rolling motion rather than a stop and go motion common when wearing ordinary shoes. 

What is the proper way to use MBT?

MBTs will help strengthen your body and align your posture if used correctly.  Proper training information will allow you to get the most out of your purchase and yield the greatest benefit to your body.  Any retail store authorized to sell MBTs should provide you with an introduction to the proper way to use your MBTs when you make your purchase.

You also can get training from our authorized trainers listed on this website.  Also, please take a look at our Training Tips for MBT exercises you can do on your own, anytime.  

Will wearing MBTs make me walk differently?

Humans are biomechanically made to stride by pushing, not pulling like in normal shoes.  The MBT confirms this natural state and allows you to lead with your torso and push yourself forward.  Long steps throw you off balance.  They also freeze up your shoulders and hips from rotating, as they do naturally.  Most of us walk with our bodies behind or in front of our center of gravity.  This constant state of imbalance weakens the core muscles of the body.  MBT will realign you and cause you to take shorter steps. Please see our Training Tips for more information on getting the most out of your MBTs.

How can MBT help people who are on their feet every day?

MBTs are absolutely great for people walking and/or standing all day! They are designed to decrease pressure to the skeletal system by encouraging your muscles to absorb the shock of walking instead of your joints and skeletal system.  Rocking back and forth on the shoes while standing increases circulation, reduces shock to the body, and helps one to stand for longer periods of time without pain. 

Can I wear orthotics with my MBTs?

Orthotics are most commonly used to correct either pronation or supination of the feet occurring from either collapsed arches or lateral weaknesses. The MBT will help engage the smaller and normally stagnant muscles in your feet to help and even eliminate this problem.

Soft or semi-rigid orthotics can be used, but are not recommended as you will not receive the full benefit of the shoe.  The MBT is an active footwear device stimulating the intrinsic musculature of the foot and will, over time, help to re-establish the arches in the feet. Solid orthotics will minimize this benefit. Try the MBT without orthotics first, and build your way up slowly. Wear them for 15-30 minutes for the first day and progress as is comfortable.

It is however possible to wear heel raises in MBTs if an individual has a true leg length discrepancy.  

I have a difference in leg length and have to wear a heel raise. Can I put this in the MBT?

Yes.  Heel raises for true leg length discrepancy (most commonly caused by congenital abnormality or following a fracture to either the femur or tibia), may be worn with MBTs. However if the leg length abnormality is caused by muscle shortening or joint dysfunction due to tendon or ligament dysfunction, the individual should consult a musculo-skeletal specialist as the problem may be amenable to remedial treatment and heel raises may in fact not be required. 

How long should I wear my MBTs each day?

MBT usage should initially be between 30-45 minutes per day for the first week. Gradually build up by 15-30 minutes per week, until the MBT can be comfortably worn for over 2 hours, by which time muscle activation and proprioceptive feedback (proprioceptors are sensory receptors located in the muscles throughout the body that determine balance) are sufficiently attuned to allow you to wear the MBT all day, every day. 

Why do I get burning in my feet after wearing the MBT?

The burning sensation experienced by certain individuals is due to increased blood flow to the foot musculature. This should settle after a few weeks.  In certain individuals it may persist for longer and can actually be an indication of vascular impairment, possibly due to conditions such as arteriosclerosis or diabetes.  If the burning sensation persists, the individual is advised to contact their family physician. 

Why do my leg muscles ache after wearing MBTs?

The aching sensation experienced by individuals (especially in the first few days of wearing MBTs) is a well recognized phenomenon when undertaking a new exercise program. It is known as delayed onset muscle soreness and normally settles after the first 5 days of wear. 

Why does my a back ache after wearing MBTs?

This may be due to the increased activation of the lumbo-sacral musculature and is also in part due to the alteration of trunk angle relative to the pelvis when wearing MBTs.  An individual walking in MBTs automatically attains a more upright posture rather than a forward leaning gait. This discomfort should subside after a period of adjustment to wearing the MBT and your lower back muscles become stronger. 

If I have diabetes, can I wear MBTs?

MBTs can be worn by individuals with both insulin dependent and non-insulin dependent Diabetes Mellitus. Wearing MBT footwear stimulates blood flow to all muscle groups in the legs. It is also a potent aid to proprioception (proprioceptors are sensory receptors located in the muscles throughout the body that determine balance) thereby stimulating the nerve supply to muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons in the lower limbs. This may help individuals who are prone to develop the neuro-vascular complications of Diabetes Mellitus. 

If I've had a stroke, can I wear MBTs?

The aims of treatment after the acute phase of a stroke are to minimize impairments, disability and secondary complications. To this end MBTs may be beneficial as they are a potent activator of vascular flow in the lower limbs and help improve muscle activation in the gluteals, hamstrings and calf musculature.

It should always be remembered, however, that MBT is fundamentally an unstable footwear device. With prolonged, supervised usage they should aid rehabilitation, but initially there may be an increased risk of falls if used in an unsupervised setting by an inexperienced individual. 

I am due to have joint replacement surgery. Can I wear MBTs?

Provided you are already familiar with MBT they can be a valuable tool in post-operative rehabilitation. It is advisable, however, that they are not worn until 4 - 6 weeks post-operatively as the potential risk of a fall in this period could dislodge the artificial joint. Please confirm with your physician that you are in fact ready to get back into your MBTs.

By way of prevention, clinical studies at Calgary University and Sheffield Hallam University have demonstrated that MBTs reduce loading through the hip, knee and ankle thus reducing the pain in these joints due to osteoarthritis. MBTs also activate knee and ankle musculature and stimulate proprioceptive (proprioceptors are sensory receptors located in the muscles throughout the body that determine balance) feedback around these joints. 

I have just had a heart attack. Is it OK for me to wear MBTs?

MBT's positive effects on the body's circulatory system may help as part of a cardiac rehabilitation program together with suitable education, medication and lifestyle modification. Please consult with your physician. 

Do MBTs help people who have multiple sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system. In Europe and North America it is the most common cause of neurological disability in adults aged 20-40 years and occurs in 1 in every 800 people. In 90% of affected individuals the disease process is relapsing and remitting in nature. Randomized clinical trails have demonstrated that outpatient rehabilitation reduced MS symptom frequency and fatigue. MBT may be worn by individuals who have MS as part of their normal rehabilitation program. 

Do MBTs help people who have motor neuron disease?

As with Multiple Sclerosis, MBTs may be used as part of an active rehabilitation program. The MBT will not alter the natural clinical progress of the disease but may assist maximal motor functioning during the disease process. 

I have arthritis in the big toe, will MBTs help me?

Patients who have arthritis in the big toe should benefit from wearing MBTs. MBT footwear dynamically alters loading through the foot, ensuring that the load is distributed evenly through the foot from the moment of heel strike until the foot leaves the ground at toe off. This mimics walking barefoot. Conventional shoes concentrate on loading through the heel and then through the forefoot thereby accentuating loading through the joint of the big toe. 

I have poor blood supply to my legs. Will the MBTs help this?

Depending on the severity of the altered or abnormal vascular supply, MBTs may be an aid to improving peripheral circulation in the affected limbs. It is important to realize that as MBTs may increase muscle activation, initially the compromised circulation in the affected limb may cause increased pain due to inadequate blood supply. As circulation improves by wearing MBTs this pain should subside. 

I get anterior knee pain. Can I wear MBTs?

MBTs reduce loading through the knee and benefit the muscles acting around the knee. Specifically, MBTs cause an eccentric stretch of the hamstring muscles and increased activation of the quadriceps. These features assist the management of anterior knee pain. It is always advisable to contact a medical specialist (i.e. doctor, physiotherapist or osteopath) for a definitive diagnosis and to see if wearing MBTs is appropriate. 

If I've had a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) can I wear MBT?

MBTs should NOT be worn in the early stages following diagnosis of a deep vein thrombosis. This is because the increased muscle activation may lead to the clot becoming dislodged and leading to a potentially fatal pulmonary embolus. Once stabilized and told by your doctor to resume exercise, MBTs may be worn upon physician approval. 

I have problems with recurrent ankle ligament sprains. Will MBTs help with my rehabilitation?

Yes. The big benefit of MBT in rehabilitation is the proprioceptive (proprioceptors are sensory receptors located in the muscles throughout the body that determine balance) stimulus which they provide. They are also potent activators of the ankle stabilizing musculature. Many individuals who have ligament injuries are given 'wobble boards' to assist rehab. These are used for 20-45 minutes per day. In effect the MBT acts like a permanent wobble board due to its inherent instability and can comfortably be worn every day, thereby strengthening the ankle. 

Will wearing MBTs cure my sciatica?

MBTs will not cure sciatica but can be used as a tool which may help resolve the pain associated with the condition. Obviously if back pain persists an individual should see their doctor to rule out more serious conditions such as infection, tumor, fracture, inflammation, osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis.

MBTs affect the angle of the trunk relative to the pelvis. This causes the lower back to load optimally through the pelvis and hips, rather than force the wearer to lean forward which is very common with conventional footwear. In addition, MBTs cause some activation of the lumbo-sacral musculature and thereby help to strengthen the lower back and aid recovery.***

CARING FOR YOUR MBT FOOTWEAR

• Avoid exposure to harsh chemicals. Any liquids/chemicals containing salt, oil, manure, solvents, gasoline, clay, dirt or acid may be harmful to your MBTs.
• MBTs can be worn in the rain, but dry them quickly and thoroughly upside down. Never leave MBTs damp for an extended period of time..
• Avoid mechanical damage by protecting the heel sensor from sharp objects.
• Never put MBTs in a washing machine. Hand wash your MBTs using diluted liquid soap and a sponge, and dry thoroughly and quickly after hand washing.
• If exposed to dirt or mud, clean and dry immediately. If mud is allowed to dry on MBT footwear the heel sensor can be damaged. Heel sensor damage due to mud or dirt is considered abuse and will not be covered under warranty.
• If you detect separation or excessive wearing of the sole, discontinue use of footwear and contact Aviva. Continued use of MBTs while the rubber sole is damaged may harm the midsole. MBT footwear cannot be resoled if the midsole has been damaged.
• If your MBTs show any indication of being faulty during the six month warranty period, call an Aviva representative to discuss the problem. An Aviva representative will determine if the shoes should be returned to Aviva to be examined. Return Authorization Number and return procedures and policies are described in a separate letter that accompanied your MBT footwear. After being examined, your MBT footwear may be repaired or replaced.
• MBTs that have not been properly cared for, or if the shoes have been damaged due to exposure to dirt, mud, or water, will not be refunded or replaced.

Warranty

Swiss Masai guarantees MBT footwear against manufacturing defects and workmanship for a period of six (6) months from the date of original purchase.

Defective MBT footwear must be returned prepaid to Aviva together with proof of purchase, with the Return Authorization (RA) number clearly indicated on the shipping box. Failure to call an Aviva representative for a Return Authorization (RA) number, or MBT footwear that is returned without the proof of purchase will void any warranty claims. Shoes returned to Aviva without the proper Return Authorization clearly indicated on the box will be refused by Aviva and returned. Under no circumstances are shoes to be returned directly to MBT.

Aviva is not authorized to replace the product directly. If, after a complete inspection, Swiss Masai determines that the product is defective, they will be repaired or replaced free of charge, however you will be responsible for return shipping charges if the shoes are replaced due to a defect in materials or workmanship.

The Swiss Masai warranty does not apply to damage resulting from excessive or improper use or abuse. Alterations of any nature made to a MBT product will void the warranty.

THE SOLES OF MY MBTS ARE DAMAGED. WHAT MIGHT BE THE CAUSE?

The sole may feel comfortably soft when walking, but it is actually quite rigid in its construction. For this reason, MBTs should not be bent backwards or flexed while kneeling. Another possible cause of sole breakage might be an excessively worn outsole, which can cause damage to the midsole. In this case, water can enter and destroy the inner construction, which can result in a broken sole. A further possible cause is incorrect walking technique – in particular putting too much weight on the balls of the feet, with too much pressure applied when pushing off.

HOW DO I RECOGNIZE WHEN AN OUTSOLE NEEDS TO BE REPLACED?

You should ensure that the outsole is replaced before the Masai Sensor suffers damage via direct contact with the street. Replacement is also called for when the Masai Sensor has worn out or become excessively soft. Depending on the condition of your MBTs, it is possible either to replace the outsoles or to renew the entire sole structure. Please contact Aviva for more information about resoling MBT footwear.

ARE MBT SOLES REPLACEABLE?

If your shoes need to be re-soled and refurbished, they can be re-soled with original MBT soles, heel sensors, insoles, and laces. Please contact an Aviva representative for information and pricing.

THE RIGHT SIZE OF MBTS – WHAT SHOULD BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION?

For closed models (not open toe models including sandals): the MBT has to fit the foot perfectly. MBTs don’t let your foot slide forward with every step, like normal shoes do – they pull your heel back, instead. For this reason, MBTs should never be bought too large. It’s alright for the tips of your toes to be almost touching the edge of the shoe. Please make sure that the laces are tied tight enough that sliding forward is prevented, but not so tight that they impair circulation through the instep.

For sandals: Open the heel strap, and slide as far back as possible with your heel. Set the Velcro fastener in this position. Pull the arch strap snug so that forward slippage is impossible, but so that the MBT is still comfortable to wear. The toe strap prevents sideways slippage of the feet and should likewise sit snugly, but comfortably. Your toes should not touch the front edge when walking – this prevents chafing and blisters.

If the sandal model does not have adjustable heel straps, and if the form of your heel doesn’t allow for a good heel position, you should decide in favor of the model with an adjustable heel strap.

WHY DO I SWEAT A LOT MORE IN MBTS THAN IN OTHER SHOES? HOW CAN I COMBAT THIS?

Walking in MBTs puts the body into a natural state of instability, a state which has to be compensated for - with every step, and even while standing. This stimulates the musculature of the entire body, including that of the feet. The result: the blood supply to your feet is improved. This effect prevents cold feet - but it can also lead to other physical reactions, such as sweating or even a burning feeling. Experience has shown that the body gets used to this muscular training and that these reactions tend to normalize. This can take some time, sometimes up to a year or longer.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN IF I FEEL NUMBNESS, PINS AND NEEDLES, OR HEAT IN MY FEET?

Because the MBT makes the foot muscles more active than in normal flat shoes, the muscles in the feet begin to work harder in rolling through the foot with each stride. This can lead to conditions of improved circulation and activation of the muscles in the calf and around the shin, which are mostly passive in normal walking. Sensations such as pins and needles, sweaty feet and numbness can occur initially and will subside after wearing the MBTs for a comfortable period.

CAN I RUN AND JOG IN MBTS?

Yes, MBTs are perfect for jogging, as demonstrated in the video/DVD. MBTs are suitable for training but not for competitions. Always make sure that you are comfortable walking in them first, starting with the recommended time.

CAN I WEAR MBTS EVERY DAY?

Yes, the more you wear MBTs the more your body will feel the benefits.

HOW LONG SHOULD I WEAR MY MBTS FOR AT FIRST?

MBT usage should be between to 2 hours per day for the first week, and then gradually building up the time, until they can be comfortably worn for over 2 hours, by which time muscle activation and proprioceptive feedback are sufficiently attuned to wear the MBT all day, every day. If applied as a medical or therapeutic tool, make sure you refer to a health specialist. The amount of time you are able to tolerate wearing the shoes will depend upon your initial level of fitness and health.


FAQ 2005-2012 Swiss Masai & Aviva

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