The Truth About Toning Shoes
Do these shoes help you shape up? Health and fitness experts size up toning shoes.
By Denise Mann
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD
Can a pair of shoes help you burn more calories, tone your butt, banish cottage cheese thighs, and curb joint pain?
Rocker sole shoes started as more of a specialty shoe for people with diabetes or ankle problems, but they are increasingly marketed as toning shoes. Masai Group International has sold the Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) brand for years. Now, many shoe companies are getting in on the game. Sketchers has an ever-expanding arsenal of Shape-Ups shoes including a pair made especially for gym workouts and another for running 5Ks or 10Ks. Reebok has EasyTone shoes. There are some technical and design differences between shoe brands, but the basic principles remain the same.
These shoes have an unstable, strongly curved sole. Walking in them is akin to exercising on a balance or wobble board in the gym or barefoot along a sandy beach. Advocates say that this instability forces you to use muscles that you otherwise would not - namely those is your feet, legs, butt, and abs -- which could lead to weight loss. The shoes can also change your posture and gait and take pressure off of achy, overused joints.
But do they actually do any of the above, and if so, is that a good thing?
Cary M. Golub, DPM, a podiatrist in Long Beach, N.Y, says toning or rocker-bottom shoes have a place in certain people's shoe collection.
For starters, these shoes may help relieve pain among people with heel pain, he says. "They take the pressure off of the heel and give more support to the ankle," he says.
"These shoes put the strain on your hamstrings and glutes, so if you are not athletic or a seasoned walker, they may hurt the muscles that they are supposed to help," Golub says. "If you are not used to firing these muscles, the shoes may hurt."
Golub's advice: "Break them in slowly for an hour or so. Don't start walking 2 or 3 miles in them."
Najia Shakoor, MD, an associate professor of internal medicine at Rush Medical College and an attending physician at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, spends a lot of time in her lab studying shoes and determining which types are best for people with arthritis.
Her verdict on toning shoes for people with arthritis: Thumbs down.
"I don't think there is any evidence to suggest that they do anything beneficial for arthritis," Shakoor says. Her research shows that flat, flexible shoes are more joint-friendly. "This is the complete opposite of the rocker bottom," she says.
Shakoor is not sold on the role that these shows play in improving fitness levels of people without arthritis, either.
Yes, "your posture improves because you are wearing an unstable shoe, so you have to balance yourself by standing up straight," Shakoor says. But "more research is needed to see who they are appropriate for."
to read more on the next page click on the link below....... www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/tr
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