THE BLOG
07/31/2011 06:10 pm ET Updated Sep 30, 2011

We Tried It: MBT Shoes For Good Posture

In spite of the best efforts of my childhood ballet teachers, I have become a sloucher. I am forever cringing when I see pictures of myself slumped over like a piece of limp spaghetti.

The source, I figure, is some combo of laziness and bad office chairs, but if the good folks at MBT shoes are to be believed, another culprit could be the ground beneath my feet. In 1996, the company designed (and patented) a thick, curved sole meant to mirror walking on soft, uneven surfaces, like people used to before everything was paved and leveled.

"When walking in MBTs, the ground no longer feels flat and stable, so the body has to compensate and create stability," its website states. That, in turn, is supposed to improve balance and posture.

MBT offers a variety of different styles, from professional to athletic. I tested a new style from its casual line -- a grey, thick-soled Mary Jane called the Kesho MJ. I wanted to see how it functioned as an everyday, walking-around-New-York-City shoe and also what effect, if any, it'd have on my posture. Here's what I found.

The Pros:

First thing's first: This shoe takes some getting used to. MBT isn't lying when it says its shoes provide a new -- or old? -- way of walking, and I did wobble around with each step.

But once I got used to the movement, I was able to stabilize myself and did feel like my entire body was engaged. I will also cop to checking myself out while passing buildings, and I noticed I was standing straighter than usual without having to strain. I was also surprised that the Kesho shoes felt relatively light, given that they're made from Nubuck leather and are substantial, size-wise.

The Cons:

My main gripe here, and this is totally subjective, is that they're pretty chunky; I'm more of a sleek shoe lady. Also, for the first couple of hours, I was extremely aware of how awkward I must have looked as I tried to figure out how to manage my steps. But once I got used to the Kesho, that faded.

The Takeaway:

I can't say that I've noticed major overhaul of my posture, but I wouldn't discount that possibility if I wore them every day, over more time. What I did notice is that when I went from wearing the MBTs to my trusty ballet flats, they felt uncomfortable and unsupportive in ways they hadn't before. I missed the MBTs! They provided all the support I needed to walk around the city streets.