Are Your Shoes Contributing to Your Pain?

I’m not just talking about six inch stilettos. Our shoes affect how we walk, how we stand and consequently our posture. If we are already facing joint issues, postural imbalances aren’t going to help. In simple terms, we can end up favouring (guarding or protecting) some aspect of our body which can place more strain on another part. It can become a case of the chicken or the egg, trying to work out where it all started.

Part of the solution may be changing your footwear. My rheumatologist gave me a stern lecture about heels. OK, his tone wasn’t stern, but I could tell his intent was! We know high heels aren’t good for us, but we keep wearing them anyway – until we get to the point that it is JUST TOO PAINFUL to persevere. We have to find more suitable footwear.

My Shoe Adjustments

About six months ago I bit the bullet and went on a “low heels” shopping spree for the office and social wear. In my down time I was living in runners, but that’s not such a good look in the office. Socially? I was warned, in no uncertain terms, by a girlfriend NOT to wear runners on a night out. Even with these lowest of low heels I was still experiencing pain in my right buttock and lumbar spine at various times, usually towards the end of the day.

I’ve found a great help for me – and for a neighbour, a friend and the friend’s husband. This may not work for you, but I’m sharing in the hope others may also benefit.

In sheer desperation one day I dragged my old MBT shoes out of the closet and wore them for two days. NO PAIN! However, they were so old (I’d forgotten I had them) that wearing them triggered end of life (theirs, not mine). Not surprising really – nothing lasts forever. I tried to buy replacements. Very, very hard to get in Australia these days.

Kyboot by Kybun

Doing my “can I buy them somewhere else” research I stumbled across KyBoot by Kybun. I discovered the brains behind the original MBTs, Karl Müller, had moved on to developing his next generation shoes. There are only four stockists in Australia: one in Melbourne, two in New South Wales (Sydney and Mona Vale) and one in Brisbane. Kyboot don’t have a very high profile in Australia – yet.

What makes them different? This is an American video, but illustrates the technology.

I visited the Melbourne stockist in early July with NO intention of buying, just seeing what they had and trying them on. Yes, I walked out with my first pair. As soon as you walk around in them you can feel yourself standing differently. A co-worker who sees me at work every day told me I was walking as if I was twenty years younger – and without dobbing that person in, they are qualified to make that assessment.

I walk around a lot in my other job so my first priority was something I could wear to work that looked professional (i.e. did not look like runners). As you can see from the video below, they are fine for an office environment.

My Contacts’ Reactions

I posted about them on my personal Facebook page and spoke to a neighbour in my apartment building. It isn’t just me. My neighbour bought two pair: one for work and one for social. Her comment to me, “I don’t even take them off when I get home, they are too comfortable”.

The Facebook contact’s experience is best shown by her posts to me (I have redacted her name to protect her privacy).

After a while this was her follow-up note to me.

She sent me a picture of her choice.

Kyboot

A Second Pair

So now I had solved my office problem, but I wanted some that I could wear working in Limberation. Something that would go with my gym gear. On the Kybun website I had spotted the very colourful style featured at the top of this article. Sadly, this style is not stocked in Australia. Yet, anyway! The Melbourne stockists, Peter Sheppard, very kindly ordered them in for me specially. I was very excited when they arrived. I was able to determine the size required by trying on another similar shape style prior to ordering.

Pros and Cons

These are not cheap. Up to $500 a pair depending on the style. As a friend said to me, “You can’t put a price on pain reduction”. Yes, my budget has been very tight this month, but I’m set for a while now.

The heel can also look a little odd when walking. Ignore the cat hair, she was all over me when I got home! In this photo I am landing on my heel to show the “squishiness”. The runners I have bought are not as squishy.

Kyboot

You really must try them on and be correctly fitted. My two pairs are two different sizes – the runners I wear with socks are slightly bigger than the ones I wear with stockings or bare feet. Take a typical pair of your socks with you to ensure the correct fit. I was really interested in getting a pair of sandals for summer, but I have very flat feet and in an open shoe my toes don’t stay where they should, so I think I’ll have to stick to closed styles.

The benefits, if these shoes suit you, are worth every cent. Everything we do – controlling our weight, increasing our movement & exercise (re-conditioning our bodies), reducing stress in our lives – all contribute to us managing our conditions and improving our quality of life. If a shoe helps us experience less pain or be able to move for longer before we experience the change (onset of pain), then we are going to be better off. Not only will we experience less pain, but we will re-condition faster than we might otherwise have done which in turn will help us manage our pain.

Summary

Before you ask, no, I don’t get any payments or discounts for writing about the KyBoot. I’m sharing because I’ve been so amazed and so have two contacts of mine. I have worn mine every single day since I got them (nearly two months ago). One of the Peter Sheppard staff told me that is what she had done the day I bought my first pair and frankly I didn’t believe her. Now I do.

The styles available in Australia are not the full range, however styles will change over time and if you are travelling overseas you may find different styles available in different overseas outlets. Just make sure you are getting the genuine article by checking the Kybun stockists page.

Research. Read the Kybun site to familiarise yourself with the product. The English version of the site probably doesn’t read quite the same as the Swiss version, but the basics are covered. There is even a section on “Initial Reactions” as depending on how you are standing/walking now you body may need to adjust. I didn’t have that experience, nor did the people quoted above, but be aware it is a possibility.

These may not be suitable for you. Even if these aren’t, it won’t hurt to evaluate your shoe wardrobe. Ask yourself whether you suffer less pain, or last longer before pain starts, in one shoe compared to another. Get rid of the ones you know are not doing you any favours. I hated giving up my heels – but now I just don’t care! I’m happily walking around everywhere! Yes, I kept my low heeled fashion shoes – there will be social occasions when I want to wear a dress shoe.

If you were a MBT wearer, these are much easier to walk in. There is a MBT v KyBoot comparison page on the KyBun site.

If you already have some Kyboot shoes, please share your experience in the comments.

Update November 19, 2017

Above I stated I received nothing from Kybun for writing this article. That is correct. I am disclosing that as a result of this article I have since been engaged to write for Kybun for a period of twelve months.