Sunday, October 03, 2010

Are toning shoes a marketing gimmick?

Toning shoes which are currently manufactured by companies such as Reebok, MBT and Skechers claim to:
• Promote weight loss
• Strengthen the back
• Firm calf and buttock muscles
• Reduce cellulite and tone your thighs
• Increase cardiovascular health
• Improve posture
                                            • Reduce stress on knee and ankle joints

Or as the Skechers ad claims: "Get in shape without setting foot in a gym." All you have to do is wear them.

How do they work?
Toning shoes are designed with an uneven platform for the foot, which forces your muscles to work harder to stay balanced while you walk. The Skechers and MBT’s have a curved edge on the back made to mimic walking in sand.

How much do they cost?
A typical pair can sell for from $100 to as much as $250.

Clark Howard cautions listeners:
A couple of months ago, I heard Clark Howard caution listeners in his segment, "Toning shoes not all they're cracked up to be." He said:
The claims that you'll derive some kind of exercise-related benefit from wearing toning shoes are "utter nonsense," according to a professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine in Baltimore. Moreover, people are suffering injuries as result of wearing these shoes, according to USA Today.
Co-worker receives toning shoes as a gift:
Last week, my co-worker informed me his son had given him a pair of toning shoes for his birthday. These shoes, which cost $109, were going to tone his legs and improve his posture. This co-worker suffers from gout, has chronic knee and foot pain, and walks on the sides of his feet. I couldn’t help thinking he’s going to fall off these shoes and hurt himself. I told him about the warning I’d heard on Clark Howard.

His response:
Joe Montana wears them. He heard Montana say his toning shoes had helped relieve pain in his knees and back which allowed him to start jogging for the first time in 15 years and that he hadn’t fallen off them yet.

Personally I think my co-worker should return the toners and invest in a good pair of orthopedic shoes, but others in the office disagreed they began chiming in on how these shoes tone your legs etc., so I gave up.

Here are the facts:
According to the WSJ health blog, in a study performed by a team of exercise scientists from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse for The American Council on Exercise:
There is simply no evidence to support the claims that these shoes will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories or improve muscle strength and tone.
John Porcari, UW-L exercise and sport science professor who led the independent study said, "There is no way these shoes would tone your butt."

And that

He is concerned about potential problems with extended wear of the toning shoes because they could change people's walking gait mechanics.
Just because the shoes may initially produce sore muscles doesn’t mean they work. The differently shaped sole and cushioning will definitely use different muscles than your regular shoes, but that doesn’t mean you’re working any harder, overall, or that you’re going to get toned. Some people do find these shoes very comfortable. If that encourages people to get out and walk more or exercise more — fantastic.
Bottom line:
More walking is a good thing, so if you think you’ll walk more in a pair of toning shoes by all means go buy a pair, but buyer beware ~ these shoes are not for everyone and are not the shape-up panacea they claim to be.


  1. Anonymous4:29 PM

    I've tried some of the toning sneakers, like MBT's and Skechers Shape ups, but think they're uncomfortable to walk in and kind of expensive. They're also totally ugly. I like Smartsole exercise insoles. They're really comfortable and I felt the difference in my legs and butt almost immediately. They're also less than $30. I'm always looking for ways to tone muscles, and these insoles are a real help. I saw a discount code HG10 for 10% off on a coupon board.

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