Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Toning Shoes: Are they worth the hype or do they need a caution label?

You may have seen the ads and have even been tempted to buy the latest advertised shoes, but heed our warning before opening your wallet. Several different companies, including Sketchers, Reebok and New Balance, have been marketing new type of fitness shoe that claims to tone or allow you to work out just by walking. Shoes that tone your body may sound great, but it may be too good to be true.

An article in today’s USAToday, A revolutionary sneaker, or overhyped gimmick? highlights the popularity of toning sneakers.

“The makers of ‘toning shoes’ say the shoes can help give wearers more shapely butts, legs and abs, often without the need for gym workouts. That's partly why toning shoes — which often have a rounded sole like a rocking chair, to stretch the wearer's leg muscles with each stride — represent the fastest-growing segment of the $17 billion-a-year athletic footwear industry.”

While the sneakers may be popular and promise an easy workout, they may have adverse effects and may end up causing more problems. Several podiatrists pointed out the shoes’ possible dangers.

"David Davidson, national president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, says the shoes basically make adults learn to walk, or run, all over again by changing their gait. That's a ‘scary’ prospect for someone with a "borderline problem" they might not know about.

Davidson says he's suspicious of any shoes that come with an instructional booklet and DVD.

‘Nothing about these shoes has any redeeming value to me,’ he says. ‘Sorry, I don't see it.’

Bryan Markinson, chief of podiatric medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, says some of his patients who are "not in the greatest of shape" have inflamed their Achilles tendons while wearing toning shoes. People thinking of buying them, he says, should begin an "active stretching program" or else risk injury.

Jonathan Deland, chief of foot and ankle service at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, warns the shoes can be ‘dangerous’ for people with balance problems."

Another blogger and certified pedorthist Janet Dixon also noted in a recent post the flaws and potential dangers of the shoes.

As always, consult with your podiatrist before trying any new shoe or workout routine. Everyone’s feet and walking style are different, so it is essential to work with your podiatrist to find out what is best for you. 

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