KyBoots are not shoes. They are health and training equipment, writes Tengku Sofiah Aishah
I LOVE shoes and I have been guilty of subjecting my feet to pain in the name of fashion. Even my comfort shoes graze the back of my heels before they are broken in.
“Wearing heels not only damages your feet but also your back,” says Karl Muller, the founder of Swiss footwear, Kybun AG. “Putting the pressure of your whole body on the front of your feet makes you wobbly when you walk and this can affect posture and bone structure”
By design, high heels are essentially the opposite of everything natural about walking. “Shoe heels restrict the movement of your feet. When we walk, we should land on our heels, not on our forefeet,” adds Muller. “Not unlike buildings, the strength of human body lies on the base but the mechanics of the human body are more complex. This is why we need shoes that exercise our muscles.”
Muller, who is also the man behind MBT (Masai Barefoot Technology), was inspired when he discovered the health enhancing advantage of walking on elastic clay ground during a short stay in Korea.
“When you walk barefoot in the padi field, it is very comfortable and it feels good on your joints. I wanted to bring this experience to your feet whether you’re at the mall or at home,” says Muller.
With Kybun footwear (also called KyBoots) Muller has recreated the same elastic clay effect.
KyBoots are like a portable padi field for feet — a notion I am pleased to concur with. I put on a pair of the walk-on-air shoes and the first thing I wanted to say was: “Let’s bounce”.
I have never experienced anything quite like it. Walking has never been so effortless and enjoyable.
“There are three physical characteristics of Kybun shoes that make them different from other shoes — they are very soft, have very high spring effect and the soles do not wear off,” explains the mechanical engineer.
“Even if you wear Kybun shoes eight hours a day, the soles will not wear out a millimetre after two years,” he adds confidently.
Although Kybun is not a specialised sports brand, KyBoots can increase your speed and improve jumping ability by applying the same concept as that in car racing — the softer the tyres, the faster the car.
“We have national athletes who wear our shoes but KyBoots are best worn daily and after training, to help with regeneration,” says Muller. He adds that it is best to wear covered shoes instead of slippers so our feet can relax when we walk.
Barefoot running is only good if you are running on sand but not on any other surface. “Our feet are not made to run on rough or flat surfaces. It is dangerous unless you’re at the beach. Nature is always the best.”
ENGINEERED FOR THE BODY
In normal shoe-making, engineering may not be very important but it plays a vital role in the making of KyBoots.
“Kybun shoes claim three things — the shoes train your muscles, relax your back and protect your joints. Most of our customers have back pain and they feel significant pain reduction after walking in KyBoots for 10 minutes.”
Kybun does not market its products. Instead, it relies on word-of-mouth.
“When our customers spread the word, we know we hold our claim. We have scientific proof for it and we have built a robot system to make the soles,” Muller explains.
The brand also offers KyBounder which is a therapy exercise mat available in varying sizes and thickness together with pillows.
“KyBounder works out your feet even when you are standing still. In fact, we do not have a single chair in our office. All our employees stand on a KyBounder at their work station.” An interesting practice that should be adopted by more companies as most of us spend half the day sitting down.
It may sound expensive to pay RM1,000 for a pair of shoes but not for our health. As Muller puts it, “KyBoots are not shoes. They are health and training equipment that look like shoes.”