Hi all, I just learned about these.. "Earth shoes" or "negative incline shoes"...
What's the consensus? :-)
I don't think you'll find a consensus here, since that would imply the entire community comes to an agreement, but perhaps you'll get some opinions.
In my opinion,
I think shoes that are intended to "give a workout" are counter-productive and entirely unnecessary. Recent research from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) suggests that Shape-ups and others like them - MBTs (Masai Barefoot Technology) and Reebok EasyTone shoes won't help you build more muscle or burn more calories as they promise.
I feel this negative incline shoe fits in that category.
I also don't think aligning purpose to that of yoga is particularly useful in this regard, since yoga is a convention (made up by somebody) and not based on inherent natural movements, biomechanics, or behavior. If you enjoy or benefit from yoga, that's wonderful.
I believe it would be more useful to (as much as possible taking into consideration personal capabilities) present the body with the kinds of environments and situations which it adapted to handle, from a physiological standpoint.
This includes barefoot running, or minimal footwear, and movements performed in a range-of-motion that are functional and natural. Whenever somebody designs a shoe that is supposed to "guide" or "force" your body into doing something, I feel it is a bad thing. Shoes should provide a minimal amount of protection from things on the ground or from the cold, and that's it.
Providing artificial impediments or resistance can be useful sometimes, to some extent, but with things like exercising on bosu balls, we are learning that adaptations do not transfer over well since that type of training is not equivalent to what the body does in the real world, or the types of ground it encounters.
I bought a pair of Earth shoes to wear around the office a couple years ago. That was before I discovered VFFs, and admittedly, the Earth shoes seemed more comfortable than raised heel shoes in the beginning.
Since I've worn minimalist shoes outside of work, however, my dislike for "dress" shoes has grown and grown. I just recently purchased a pair of Vivobarefoot Ra shoes to replace my Earth shoes, as nowadays, any solid heel shoe hurts my knees from the constant impact. (Earth shoes only seem better because they force a shorter stride. There's still impact, though.)
At this point, I don't intend to ever buy another pair of Earth shoes. Dressier minimalist options are increasing slowly.
I wouldn't wear anything that isn't as thin as possible and flat as possible (or in the case of Five Fingers form-fitting). The only new or innovative design I want in a shoe is to make it less of what it is (if that makes sense).
I think Maker's Mark whiskey has a commercial that says something like "A good whiskey is what it isn't." That would be perfect for a minimalist shoe ad, don't you think?
I had some Nike Frees, and cut the heel off. I accidentally cut too much off and ended up with a negative incline. I couldn't stand it; they were unwearable and I had to get rid of them.
(This after having been wearing Vibram FiveFingers for a few years, and getting so used to them that even standard shoes with a fairly low heel feel like high heels.)
My husband discovered these because he has a really bad back (aka, herniated disc on top of a broken back that was never treated - yikes!). He thinks they helped his posture, which really can't be helped, and helped relieve some back pain, and convinced me to try a pair. I have a pair of sandals and a pair of snow boots of the Earth brand variety. While I don't notice a huge difference (though my back is fine), I do notice that it does slightly change the way you walk. It is possible that while wearing snow boots I'm walking differently than I normally do since I'm trudging along, but my legs do have to adjust, and since they are not my everyday shoes, they offer more hinderance than help.
In the 1970's I tried on a friend's & noticed they use the muscles below your calves like no other shoe. She was thin but had thick lower legs (no calf definition), not an attractive look. I'm not sure if it was genetic or due to wearing Earth Shoes for all of the 4 years I knew her.