Curved soles, or rocker bottom shoes, come in all sorts of different designs like the MBT trainers.
Much has been said about how these trainers can tone up your gluteals and help with back problems. But the truth is the reasons they help back problems in ‘some ‘ people’ may have more to do with the supportive nature of the shoe than some magic in the sole of the shoe.
Curved sole rocker shoes have been popularised thanks to celebrities like Kim Kardashian, endorsing them as a fitness aid.
The shoe in principle is a soft unstable sole meant to challenge muscles to work harder, and therefore aid the body to adapt, strengthen, and loosen various muscles.
This type of shoe, however, is not ideally worn for long periods of time as one may become accustomed to the soft, cushioned, unstable effect and find it difficult to get back to wearing normal shoes. In addition, the width of the shoe may encourage a ‘splaying’ of the forefoot – making the foot wider and not so easy to go back to narrower shoes.
Other shoes, like the Fit Flop, have been a revelation for some people, especially during the summer months. This shoe provides a decent height differential between the rear and the front, as well as a mild arch support. They have a nice cushioned sole as well. They come in a variety of styles and colours to choose from.
I have been recommending Fit Flops as a summer shoe for mild mechanical cases and orthotic wearers. The only downside is, they are pricy compared to normal Flip Flops….they will not make you any fitter for wearing them, and they certainly will not help you lose weight.
We really need to see the wood for the trees in all the marketing cons. I must also stress that the material they are made of is prone to fatigue, so they may not last longer than a few months of continuous wear, as they get tired and lose their original support.
Curved soles do have some advantages. They shift the force of strike and forefoot weight-bearing to different areas, making them more comfortable for knees and people with forefoot conditions. Orthotists often design rocker bottom shoes to aid walking and take the stress away from knees and hips.
Here’s what the BBC had to report on curved sole shoes.