Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Can Heavy Shoes Reduce Your Back Pain?

In the practice of Chinese medicine, cures often come in the form of something strange. Acupuncture calls for sharp needles to be placed into the body – which in theory, should cause pain; foot massages are known to affect any part of the body; and toxins can be pulled directly through one’s skin. For those of Western medicine, it’s cures like these that are hard to accept … even when they’re proven to work.

But according to a recent report, there may just be one more obscure medical cure: extremely heavy iron shoes. Wearing them on a regular basis, some say, can cure back pain altogether.

One Chinese worker, Zhang Fuxing, has been using this method for years, saying it has completely eliminated his extreme back pain. Now weighing more than 440 pounds each, he walks about 50 feet in the shoes each day. (Most start out with smaller versions, as low as 22 pounds, and work their way up to larger weight and distance intervals.)

How it Works

According to Chinese medicine, it’s not muscles that require us to lift heavy things, such as the shoes. Rather, the physical strength comes from one’s organs. By “lifting from within” people are able to hold great weights. As Fuxing says, “When you walk with your heart it will work.”

Scientifically, the weight works to stretch out one’s spine, work the legs, or cause an extreme increase in blood flow. The movement can also strengthen the core and create an advanced sense of balance among users.

The shoes’ makeup, however, is also important. Though users place straps over their existing footwear, iron is said to be good for the body, especially the heart and bones. By combining its traits of wellness with viable exercise, a growing cure has been found.

Iron Shoes In Practice

Though critics remain strong, patients all across China are trying this method. A vocal supporter of the iron shoe, Fuxing makes them himself and sells them to friends, neighbors, and online shoppers. With hundreds in circulation, patients seem to agree that the method has had an extreme and direct affect against back pain.

While there are no studies that have tested these theories (other than actual patients), it’s certainly an interesting concept to consider: the cure for back pain just may be a new set of shoes.

Read more about Fuxing and his iron shoe store at CTV News.