Have you seen the ads for “toning shoes”? They’re basically sneakers with curvy bottoms that are supposed to tighten and shape the muscles in your legs and rear while you walk. The ads are in every magazine and all over the internet. Do the shoes actually work? Not really. According to CNN, several manufacturers offer toning shoes that create an unstable walking surface and make your muscles work harder, kind of like walking on a sandy beach. They include “Shape Ups” from Skechers, which claim you can “get in shape without setting foot in a gym,” “Easy Tone” from Reebok, which say “you’re always toning, even when you’re standing,” and “Fit Flops,” sandals with curvy soles that are described as “the flip flop with the gym built-in.” A lot of ads also claim that toning shoes reduce back pain, decrease cellulite, improve posture, and promote weight loss. However, experts are doubtful.
For one thing, all the tests that supposedly verify the shoes’ toning claims were paid for by the manufacturers, which means, none of the claims have been verified by outside testers. A group of people who spent the day wearing toning shoes around a mall found the shoes heavy and clunky. By the end of the day, their feet and legs were aching badly. Pain doesn’t necessarily indicate a boost in fitness. Also, curved soled shoes are nothing new. Dr. R. Amadeus Mason is a sports medicine specialist at The Emory Sports Medicine Center. He points out that soles curved like the bottom of a rocking chair were originally designed for people with foot and ankle problems. They help transfer your weight away from your bones and joints as you walk, but those shoes don’t help the wearer get into shape. He also says that shoes that make your muscles work harder are not necessarily helpful. After all, people who limp often have increased muscle activity – and limping doesn’t help them shape up.
Bottom line: If you want to lose weight and get toned – wear regular shoes and hit the gym.