Beware of “Toning Shoes”
The makers of those widely touted and over-hyped toning shoes continue to make claims that their shoes can create more shapely butts and tonier legs all without a workout. That's partly why toning shoes — which often have a rounded sole like a rocking chair, to stretch the wearer's leg muscles with each stride — represent the fastest-growing segment of the $17 billion-a-year athletic footwear industry.
Sketchers, the market leader, now has Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana touting the shoes in an effort to attract men. Powell predicts that sales will explode 400% this year, to more than $1.5 billion.
Claims that toning shoes can significantly contribute to a person's fitness are "utter nonsense," says Barbara de Lateur, distinguished service professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at John's Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. De Lateur and other doctors warn that toning shoes create their advertised benefit by destabilizing how a person walks and say that wearing the shoes can result in strained Achilles tendons. De Lateur also says the shoes can be a particular problem for older consumers or those who have difficulty keeping their balance. The shoes have also been implicated in broken ankles as well as exacerbating knee problems in those people with pre-existing problems or knee instability.
There are elements of truth to the ads, according to doctors who have questioned the effectiveness and safety of toning shoes. But many of the doctors want more independent studies on the shoes, rather than industry-financed research. Other doctors, such as de Lateur, say they have seen enough to conclude that the shoes mostly represent hype.
The best shoe for extended periods of walking or exercise is still a well constructed athletic shoe, with a good balance of support and cushioning.
So, get out there and walk for exercise, but don’t fall prey to gimmicks and hype. Remember the Earth Shoe?!
You can always find good advice by visiting YourFootDoctor.com where “Healthy Feet Go Places!”