The popularity of the “rocker” bottom shoe is on the rise. Currently we are getting more and more questions about whether these shoes are right for our patients. MTB, Sketchers, and Reebok are the most visible companies that are marketing rocker bottom shoes. Because of these marketing efforts rocker bottom shoes are the fastest growing portion of the athletic shoe market. Some of the purposed benefits of these shoes are increasing muscle tone as well as weight lost. Back to Motion felt that we needed to really research if the cost of these shoes were justified.
Use of the rocker bottom shoe is not new to the medical setting. For years rocker bottom shoes have been prescribed for diabetic patients who needed shoes that alleviated pressure in certain areas of the foot. Also rigid rocker bottom shoes have been prescribed for people who had foot problems such as arthritis or immobile feet.
The research specific to the fitness benefits of the shoes is limited. When you look at the MBT website there is a list of research articles many of which have never been published. Further investigations reveal that some of those researchers were paid by the company to perform the research. This does not negate any of the research but it maybe biased. Overall the research performed on rocker bottom shoes suggests that there is increased recruitment of some muscles around the ankle and foot. There was no research that demonstrated increased use of the glut muscles. They also found that there was a difference in recruitment of the lumbar muscles when compared to regular shoes.
It is a logical jump to say if you are increasing the use of muscles that there will be an increase in energy demands. The problem is that these muscles are small and really don’t increase the overall calories burned when walking.
If you have a chronic injury and are wondering if the shoes will help we suggest you have a physical therapist evaluate you and help determine if they would be beneficial. There are some injuries and conditions for which rocker bottom shoes are not appropriate. Don’t count on a sales person to have your best interest in mind.
If you have questions or want one of us to advise you on what shoes are appropriate please call us at 303-832.5577.