Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Unusual Shoe Recommendation at Boston Marathon Expo

I made my yearly visit to the Boston Marathon Expo on Saturday. Walking around the various booths I encountered two different sales pitches for two somewhat similar and bizarre types of shoes. First I met a lady who seemed to have a lot of experience working as an athletic trainer. She even gave me a sheet with her biography. With my foot and hip balance problems I wanted to see what she had to say. She nailed a lot of the things wrong with my balance and posture and I wanted to hear her recommendations.

She had a worker use a plate to take pressure readings of the bottom of my foot. The little colored dots showed where I put the most pressure when standing still. It looked like a thought: two different balancing positions for either foot. She then wanted to get a functional picture of my foot in motion and after much fiddling her helpers realized the machine did not do this. She said it was OK and then gave me her recommendations: Use a shoe with a tight heel collar (I like them loose). She recommended the Brooks Adrenaline. Then she wanted me to get an orthotic that would help rebalance my foot (but only the orthotic sold through a store called "Foot Solutions"). Aha, this booth was sponsored by "Foot Solutions". She wanted me to make an appointment there right away. She wrote up a whole recommendation sheet for me to bring to the store.

Then she told me I needed to by a type of shoe called "Chung-Shi". It wouldn't be for running but for balancing my foot and posture with its strangely angled sole. Of course this shoe, which retails for between $200 and $300, is only sold at "Foot Solutions". Maybe it is a worthwhile shoe, sort of like a bolder version of the old Earth shoes. But I was left to wonder why the only solutions to my imbalance problems can be found at a "Foot Solutions" store?

The salesman then got heavily interested in selling me "Nordic Walking" equipment. I do think they missed out on the whole idea that I am a runner! While the lady may have had a lot of knowledge, unfortunately she was just trying to sell "Foot Solutions" stuff. Good or not I don't know. I looked on the internet for runners who had used and reviewed these orthotics and the reviews were unfavorable.

Next I found another booth with an even funkier shoe. It is called MBT shoe by SwissMasai. The shoe is supposed to leave your foot rocking and unstable like you are walking on sand or uneven ground.It has a massive sole that is rounded under the foot and made me feel like I was on a roller type balance ball. I rocked back and forth and side to side. It felt weird although I did notice that my left foot rolled out to the side and that tended to straighten my knee. It added about an inch to my height and definitely looked dorky! The sales girl said her femurs rotated in like my left one does and that after a year of wearing the shoe things were straightening out. These were also expensive shoes. I noticed that they are also sold at "Foot Solutions" and are the competition to the Chung-Shi shoes. I think these shoes are probably made for the Pilate's-yoga crowd rather than the runner crowd. Maybe they are helpful in correcting gait and posture but you would have to get over your pride to wear them in public.

Overall I spent no money at the Expo. I did get a free pair of socks for trying on the MBT shoes. My daughter did too, so she was happy. We drank lots of chemical drinks with vitamins and who knows what else and ate plenty of energy bar pieces. I picked up posters, and trinkets for my kids at school, and my daughter got enough "thundersticks" to send every kid in my class home with a pair so they could drive their parents nuts after school on Marathon Monday!


ClaireWalter said...

While Chung Shi shoes and/or Nordic Walking poles might not be for you right now, many of America's Nordic Walking pioneers are former runners who trashed their knees but want to stay in shape and train hard.

The Portland Marathon is also the US Nordic Walking marathon championship event. Vancouver also allows poles. Go to my blog, scroll down to Labels and click on "Competition" FoMoInfo.

Claire @ http://nordic-walking-usa.blogspot.com

Jim Hansen said...

Hi Claire,
I checked out your site. It looks like a more interesting way to walk and a way to gain more benefit from walking than just plain old walking. Hopefully my knees will remain fine for years to come and I can continue the running. The video I was told to watch showed a "running team" doing some drills with the poles.
Do you wear those Chung-Shi shoes? What is your opinion as to what they help? I am interested in unusual ways to train and the new thinking that is involved with them. At the marathon expo I would have come away with a more enthusisatic endorsement if I wasn't looked at as just a consumer who absolutely "needed" the three items that they were selling at the "foot solutions" booth! Thanks for the link to your site. I know of one person on a kickbike user group I belong to that speaks favorably about the Nordic Walking.

Tony said...

I recommend these: http://www.planetshoes.com/itemmatrix.asp?groupcode=3113&Item=MBT-M.-Walk-Mens&Brand=MBT-Footwear

I bought them recently at planetshoes and they're great.

Jim Hansen said...

How do you use the MBT shoes?
What benefits have you received?
Are you a runner? Have they helped your muscles, alignment, or posture?