Walk this way, says China's heavy metal shoe maker

December 9, 2013 by Tom Hancock

A Chinese factory worker says walking in huge iron shoes weighing more than 200 kilograms each can cure back pain, but faces hefty competition in his bid to build the country's heaviest footwear.

"I've been walking with iron shoes for seven years," said Zhang Fuxing, before strapping two crudely-welded iron blocks to his feet.

"After they reached 400 kilograms (882 pounds), I felt very proud. Next spring I plan to add 50 kilograms."

Zhang took a deep breath before each wrenching step in the towering footwear, with every impact leaving him struggling for balance.

It took him over a minute to take 10 paces, but he claims to walk up to 15 metres each day in the shoes, which he has gradually increased in weight, and touts them as a cure for back pain and hemorrhoids.

Zhang, 52, credits his ability to move the shoes—which he leaves outdoors, safe in the knowledge that they are close to impossible for most people to lift—to the Chinese spiritual martial art Qigong, said to involve controlling the flow of supposed bodily energies.

"It's not strong muscles that make you able to walk like this, the power comes from internal organs," he said, adding: "When you walk with your heart it will work."

Zhang believes his shoes to be the heaviest in China, but admits that competition from a number of other eccentrics renders his claim uncertain.

One of two Chinese iron shoe wearers to share a Guinness World Record for walking 10 metres backwards in heavyweight iron boots is Zhang Zhenghui from Changsha. According to a 2010 report by the official Xinhua news agency he has gold-painted shoes weighing more than 200 kilograms.

Lai Yingying, an entertainer from Fujian in the east, was shown by state broadcaster CCTV wearing shoes tipping the scales at a total of 300 kilograms.

A runner, Liu Mei, took to exercising in metal footwear after growing bored of tying sandbags onto his trainers, the state-run China News Service reported, and challenged other exponents to compete for the title of "Iron Shoe King".

His call "hit the world of eccentric stunt people like a tidal wave", the report said, but there is no record of the contest having taken place.

Zhang Fuxing—who runs a workshop making machine parts—says he was inspired by one of these pioneers. "I saw someone wearing iron shoes on TV. They said it was good for the heart and bones," he said.

At the time Zhang was suffering from back pain "so bad that I couldn't bend over to wash my face", but claims his symptoms disappeared just months after donning the footwear, an experience which left him wanting to share them with a wider audience.

He now manufactures a range of weighted metal footwear, which users strap over their existing shoes, in a small factory near his hometown in the northern city of Tangshan, and sells them online.

A snazzy red pair weighing 10 kilograms each costs 550 yuan ($90), while the heaviest 60 kilogram boots sell for 1450 yuan.

He claims to have sold several hundred pairs, including at least 10 to his neighbours, several of whom gathered around on a chilly morning to watch Zhang take his wobbling steps.

"We've all worn his iron shoes, it makes your legs feel better," said Chen Guanghua, a woman in her sixties. "We can't all play badminton, but anyone can wear shoes."

Explore further: 'Mobility shoes' take a load off for knee osteoarthritis sufferers

Related Stories

'Mobility shoes' take a load off for knee osteoarthritis sufferers

October 11, 2013
The results of a new study by bone and joint experts at Rush University Medical Center suggest that patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA) who wear flat, flexible footwear, which allows natural foot mobility and provide sufficient ...

No butts: Reebok slapped in US on rear-toning claims

September 28, 2011
US government regulators have clamped down on sportswear maker Reebok for claims that its buttock-toning footwear would lead to a more shapely butt for its wearers.

'Mobility shoes' take a load off for knee osteoarthritis sufferers

April 10, 2013
New research suggests that patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA) who wear flat, flexible footwear (mobility shoes) had significant reduction in knee loading—the force placed upon the joint during daily activities. Results ...

Flip-flops: your arch enemy?

July 5, 2012
(HealthDay) -- People of all ages wear flip-flops during the summer, but this type of footwear can cause pain and injury when worn for long periods of time, while walking on concrete or when playing sports, experts warn.

Give barefoot running the boot?

May 31, 2013
Barefoot running has been making headlines ever since 1960, when a shoeless Abebe Bikila set a new world-record marathon time at the Rome Olympics. Even manufacturers have muscled in on the trend over the years, with most ...

No running for the well-heeled: Being down at heel could save your knees

October 28, 2013
If you often find yourself running after a bus, escaping a burning building or taking part in competitive athletics in high-heeled footwear, you may be storing up knee problems for later in life, according to a study published ...

Recommended for you

Blowing smoke? E-cigarettes might help smokers quit

July 26, 2017
People who used e-cigarettes were more likely to kick the habit than those who didn't, a new study found.

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Safety of medical devices not often evaluated by sex, age, or race

July 25, 2017
Researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Francisco have found that few medical devices are analyzed to consider the influence of their users' sex, age, or race on safety and effectiveness.

Why you should consider more than looks when choosing a fitness tracker

July 25, 2017
A UNSW study of five popular physical activity monitors, including Fitbit and Jawbone models, has found their accuracy differs with the speed of activity, and where they are worn.

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Study finds 275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012

July 24, 2017
U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.