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Growing Pains

Hemispheres Magazine (United Airlines)—December 2, 2010

IN 2002, Klaus Heidegger was an aging former athlete and businessman with back issues when a friend introduced him to a pair of odd-looking shoes from Switzerland’s Masai Barefoot Technology, or MBT. Boasting thick, rounded soles designed to mimic the effect of walking barefoot on uneven ground, the shoes had been used successfully by physiotherapists and orthopedists to treat patients with muscle and back pain. The Los Angeles–based Heidegger, who’d spent years skiing competitively in Austria, tried them out. Almost immediately, his back and knees felt better. In addition to the stated benefits (improved posture and gait, and decreased pressure on the joints), he noticed a side effect: a nice toning and tightening of certain leg and gluteal muscles that had previously gone underused. Interesting, he thought.
MBT is considered a medical device in 40 countries, meaning that with a prescription they’re covered by insurance. While the FDA hasn’t yet bought in, American doctors, for the most part, back up MBT’s claims.
“I use them to help rehabilitate patients who are walking unevenly,” says Dr. Andrew Elliott, an orthopedic surgeon at Manhattan’s Hospital for Special Surgery. “You do use different muscles, and it will help strengthen your core and make you stand up straight.”
This story originally appeared at hemispheresmagazine.com.


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