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Toning Footwear: Fact or Fiction?

Toning Footwear: Fact or Fiction?

If you think staying healthy and fit takes more work than simply wearing a new pair of sneakers you are probably right.  We have all heard the claims of some of the new footwear on the market that will supposedly help tone your buttocks and thighs just by wearing them while you go about your daily activities.  You may have even heard a friend or two swear they feel the burn and soreness that comes along with a vigorous exercise after wearing these shoes.  But could this really be true?

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin aren’t buying it.  A recent article from Time magazine discusses the researchers findings on the footwear.  The team of researchers from the Exercise and Health Program at the University of Wisconsin chose three brands of sneakers that made claims of burning calories and toning muscles.  The researchers also used a regular running shoe as the control shoe.  

What they found was that when women from the study worked out there was absolutely no difference in heart rate, oxygen consumption, or calories burned whether they were wearing a regular running shoe or one of the “enhanced” fitness shoes.  The study also found that the women experienced no differences in the perceived difficulty they were feeling during their workouts.

But there may be a reason why so many people claim they feel sore, as though they have gotten a workout, after wearing these shoes.  Researchers believe this has to do with the sole of the shoes making the wearer feel slightly off-balance.  Lead researcher, John Porcari, describes the effect the off-balance feeling may be giving people.  Porcari says, “If I put a rock in your shoe, you’re going to walk differently and you’ll use different muscles and you’ll be sore but after a while your body is going to get accustomed to it.”  If anything, the shoe may be improving your balance but no study has been done on this aspect yet.

On the plus side, even if the shoes themselves don’t work it seems people who purchase them are walking more - perhaps to test if the shoe will do what it says.  Whatever the reason, if it gets people out and walking they will be doing all the toning and calorie burning regardless of their footwear choice.  

What do you think of the sneakers that claim to tone and tighten?

Would you give these shoes a try with the current research reporting they don’t actually work?

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  • trisonik By trisonik
    10.20.10  

    I have worn Skechers Shape Ups to work every day since Nov 11, 2009. I know I stand straighter than I ever have & I do not have back problems since I started wearing them. i wear them 8 hours a day 5 days a week. In addition I wore them for a four day city -walking tour. I had three bone suprs on my right foot which have also gone away. I took the 'tone you up while you walk' with a grain of salt, I stretch out before and after I wear them. For me trhe additional cushion on my feet alleviates my back pain.

  • Travelerswife By Travelerswife
    10.21.10  

    They don't tighten and if you aren't the most coordinated person in the world, there is a large chance that you could twist your ankle. These shoes are definitely for active people and not novices in sports. I have had three friends twist their ankles (I would be four, but I threw myself to land on my side) uneven terrain is a definite no-no! On the other side, they do help with back pain. They were originally designed for orthopedic reasons...I think that is where they should stay.

  • lanamae By lanamae
    10.21.10  

    don't really work, but you walk straighter

  • frogqueen75 By frogqueen75
    10.21.10  

    trisonik: If you have/had actual bone spurs, the shoes themselves did not cause them to "go away", they merely caused you to stop experiencing the symptoms of distress. Bone spurs are bony overgrowths & will not just go away by wearing better-fitting/more comfortable shoes. You need to be aware of this so that you aren't surprised if you stop wearing the shoes & have symptoms again...or, that you could even become used to the shoes & develop symptoms again anyway. I've had a bone spur removed from the top of my foot & the doctor was VERY clear about all of this info, including that they can & often do come back.

  • msfriendly By msfriendly
    10.21.10  

    These shoes are just good marketing hype! Some people will fall for anything to be firmer, prettier, better....That being said, my friend tried them and has a sore achilles tendon now!

  • lrpallone By lrpallone
    10.21.10  

    I was going out to buy these shoes because I thought they would provide me with an extra effort for my workout. Thank you all for your comments, now I am going to save my money!

  • cheesepuffmom By cheesepuffmom
    10.21.10  

    i don't have any issues with my feet and i am only a few pounds heavier that i'd like to be (like 15) BUT everything and everywhere i read aabout these shoes says that they improve your posture and make your back hurt less.............i have back pain all over. sometimes it's bursitis in my neck and shoulders, sometimes it's low back pain from too much bending or lifting, or just housework! i am dying to try a pair to see if i could improve my posture and my backaches...the comments here just affirm what i've already read and i swear they will be in my budget soon!

  • Kansasgirl1971 By Kansasgirl1971
    10.21.10  

    After reading this research I won't be buying these types of shoes. It does add a couple of inches to your height though. This is just a silly, money grubbing way to suck in the American Consumer and take them for a ride. If you want to wear them for looks, well then buy them. If not you'd be best to purchase a good pair of running shoes.

  • prairiedawn31 By prairiedawn31
    10.21.10  

    My daughter is wanting a pair of these very badly she thought she could feel it in her legs when she tried a pair on at Kmart of the ones they had there. I tried a pair on and they didn't seem to fit my feet very well like they weren't a good fitting shoe and the ones they had at Kmart didn't seem like a comfortable shoe either to me. My daughter sure thought it felt comfortable though and wants some they were 19.99 there so they may be some kind of knock off from the original brand. I am on my feet all day and get a back ache and sore heels and not even the dr. scholls help too much. I would like to try a good pair and maybe see if it helps or not. I will have to look into them further to see if the kmart brand is a knock off brand or not if it isn't then I won't be getting any because I didn't like how the kmart brand felt.

  • Lusadi By Lusadi
    10.21.10  

    I'm with the majority. I would try them to see if they alleviated my back pain. I am concerned about the balance issue on uneven terrain. On the other hand, these are not the shoes I would pick to do overland running or hiking. I would assume they were meant for general walking on roads and sidewalks.

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