By: Jordan Brown
Over the course of this past year, the fitness world has buzzed about the new “toning” shoes. Big brands like Sketchers, Reebok and MBT (Masai Barefoot Technology) have all responded to the cry of consumers for the toning shoes. The shoes usually have a curved bottom with an unstable sole. The marketers claim that the shoes help strengthen and “tone” muscles that you would otherwise not use during exercise. But the big question is, do they work?
The biggest marketing point is the statement that the shoes intensify work-outs and burn more calories. People who swear by the shoes say that “you can really feel them working,”. Some researchers say that it is just like any other pair of shoes; the first couple of days should be spent breaking them in. Is the soreness from the “breaking in” of the shoes or from the shoes helping you to intensify your workout? Researchers agree that the shoes require the use of different muscles, which leads them back to the point of soreness.
Another thought, is that although different muscle groups are used, the effect is too small to be noticed and the muscle groups are too small to make a change. One study conducted by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) tested three different brands of shoes, including Sketchers, Reebok and MBT. ACE discovered that the shoes do not help intensify exercise or burn more calories, thus concluding that the shoes are not good for any exercise benefits.
Although researchers may doubt the shoes effect on changing body shape, people with foot, knee and ankle pains claim that the shoes help them relieve pain. The shoes help take pressure off of the wearer’s heel; this is why some people feel that the shoes relieve their pains. Tests are still being done on whether or not the shoes can improve the overall balance of a person.
Although the shoes have proved to have no effect on exercise intensity or calories burned, they do give people a reason to exercise. America is at a point where heart disease, caused by obesity, is killing thousands of people every year. Exercise is important for everyone; if it takes special shoes to encourage citizens to exercise, then so be it. Whether marketers are indorsing the shoes for the purpose of selling the shoes or the purpose of getting people to exercise, either way companies are continuing to make money, people are continuing to buy toning shoes.