MBT shoes may not be a household name for runners. However, those familiar with this innovation-driven physiological footwear brand swear by the unique patented curved sole technology for its comfort and the relief it has brought to many aches and pains.
“MBT’, originally a Swiss-engineered brand named to stand for ‘Masai Barefoot Technology’, was inspired by the Masai tribe in East Africa who walk on sand, a natural, uneven surface while maintaining a perfect posture with virtually no back problems. Today, the curved sole design MBT is known for promotes a gentle rolling motion of your feet. It has been found by numerous research studies that the unstable base helps to activate muscles in your foot that regular shoes may not.
For some years now, my dad has been faithfully wearing MBT for its cushioning following chronic knee problems. I’ve always been curious about his pair, but hesitated to try the brand myself due to the curved and rather chunky sole. Nevertheless, I was drawn to the recently launched MBT Speed 1200 running shoes (S$149).
Targeting short to middle distance runners like me – a person who covers around 5 km during my twice-weekly runs, the Speed 1200 features a minimal rocker, lower profile and a more compact sole, compared to some of MBT’s other models. It was a good introduction for me to the brand. In addition, I have recently developed heel pain and plantar fasciitis in my left foot due to too much walking and working at home, and I was keen to try any new variation possible in my movements.
First, I started off taking a few walks with the Speed 1200 shoes. The rocking motion took a bit of getting used to but I adapted quickly because the Speed 1200 rocker is minimal, ranking only a Level 1 on MBT’s 1-3 rocking scale. After some time, I got used to the unique rolling steps that provide the natural cadence from impact to toe off. Even better, I found that when I started running, the rocking motion was even less obvious than while walking, though I still get to enjoy the health benefits of that motion. Whether standing, walking or running, the MBT shoes help to train the feet.
I have run several times with the Speed 1200 so far, and have been able to keep my usual running tempo. The shoes feature a light EVA midsole that cushions, while preserving MBT’s ‘SensorTechnology’ in the heel that aids posture and balance. The outsole is a high-abrasion, non-marking rubber that enables grip. The upper of the shoe features nylon mesh to breathe and wick sweat, and has minimal seams to reduce friction points, while enabling a snug fit.
With the Speed 1200, my heel pain seems to have improved, since I stubbornly continue to stick to my 2 x 5km running schedule weekly. Although I can’t be totally sure to attribute the improvement in my condition to these shoes, the positive experience has encouraged me to now start wearing the shoe for my daily use and walks, since MBT is also known for staving off back pain in the long run. MBT shoes can do better in the looks and price department, but every year, there have been sleeker and more attractive models catering to wide lifestyle choices from running to . And the brand’s longstanding existence since 1996 has proven that people are willing to pay for technology and comfort that make them feel good.
Runners who clock a higher mileage would be glad to know that MBT does have other models for longer runs–do check out the Level 2 rocker MBT 2000 (S$239), which serves as a performance-oriented workhorse and the Level 3 Huracan (S$249) delivers maximum cushioning and a more accentuated rocker bottom, both of which feature a correspondingly thicker sole.
MBT Speed 1200 Lace Up Running Shoe
- MBT run index: fast
- For your short to medium distance runs that requires a lightweight, low profile shoe with minimal rocking
- Material: mesh+synthetic
- Mesh footbed
- Rubber outsole
- Available in Singapore in grey and black, in versions for both men and women
290 Orchard Road, #04-12 Paragon