Skechers, a toning shoe manufacturer, claims that their toning shoes will improve the bottom half of your body. On its website, Skechers touts the key element to shaping up with their toning shoes: the curved bottom that “guides you back to the body’s barefoot stride” and “adjusts your stride to naturally align your body’s center of gravity.” The makers of these so-called toning shoes say the shoes can give wearers shapely abs, butts and legs.
But a number of health professionals are claiming that toning shoes, sold by MBT, Reebok, Avia, New Balance and Skechers, are not delivering on their marketing promises. The shoes could cause a number of injuries to consumers because the design of the sole forces the wearer’s leg muscles to stretch with every stride. The curved soles of toning shoes may destabilize the wearer since, at any given time, only a small portion of the sole makes contact with ground. The wearer may experience loss of traction on smooth sidewalks or on slippery or wet surfaces, increasing the risk of falling.
Dr. Barbara De Lateur of John Hopkin’s School of Medicine warns that wearing toning shoes can change the way a person walks and may present difficulties for people who have issues with balance. The instability that the shoes create makes muscles in the core, back and legs work harder. Unfortunately, strains and sprains of muscles or fractures in the leg, foot or ankle may result. A number of injuries have already been reported.
As for the claims that toning shoes make a better workout, the American Council on Exercise says otherwise. It tested three popular brands against standard running shoes “calorie to calorie.” Those wearing the toning shoes compared equally to those wearing the standard shoe: each runner burned about five calories per minute. The Council also tested the muscle activity in the back, abs, buttocks and legs and found there was no difference between standard running shoes and toners.
Skechers is currently facing a class-action lawsuit in California that accuses the company of making unfounded claims about the health benefits of its toning shoes. The lawsuit also alleges that toners pose a risk of injuries to legs and ankles due to the instability and bulkiness of the design. New Balance is also the subject of a lawsuit filed by a California woman who claims that the shoes don’t work.