With manufactures of "toning shoes" touting record number sales and claims to tone the butt, legs and abs without hitting the gym, toning shoes have become the fastest and largest growing segment within the footwear industry. So popular has this type of shoe become with consumers, primarily among women, that the market leader, Sketchers, now wants to get men in on the excitement by hiring Pro Football Hall of Fame Quarterback Joe Montana to tout it's benefits.
But as the popularity of the shoe grows, so too does the criticism. Numerous doctors from varying fields of medicine, podiatrists, chiropractors etc. are warning that the shoes are nothing more than a gimmick and can potentially cause injuries to the wearer. Two common injuries to warn against are the rolling of the foot and also strained Achilles tendons citing that "people with balance problems or tight Achilles tendons should take a cautious approach". Interestingly enough, Nike, known in the industry for providing footwear and apparel that enhance overall performance, shuns the idea of the shoes and has no plans to get in the toning shoe game. Nike, through their spokesperson Derek Kent stated "Our focus is on creating performance products that really work. Unlike today's toning products, we won't ask the consumer to compromise on stability, flexibility or any other key performance characteristics as they train."
Although an advocate for most things that encourage people to get out and move more, I’m typically very skeptical of anything that makes overt end all be all claims. Avia’s shoe claims to be the “Personal Trainer in a box” while Reebok’s ads encourage you to “make your boobs jealous!” because the attention will be on your… ahem “assets”. I tend to agree with the sentiment stated that many of the benefits expressed by these companies can be obtained through a proper, balanced diet and integrated fitness programs involving increased cardio activity such as walking or running as well as resistance and flexibility training, and would be less expensive than shelling out $100 - $250 for a pair of shoes. But, if the mood hits and the desire to buy is there, do your research, be cautious of the claims and most importantly, recognize if there are physical limitations present in your own body that could potentially be exacerbated by the use of such products. Sometimes a quick fix for aesthetic benefits is not worth the marketing hype in the long run.
For the full article, check out: A revolutionary sneaker, or overhyped gimmick?