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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Forbes Claims Shoes to Tone Your Legs are a Waste of Money!

You see them on TV, hear about them on the radio, and you see them on everyone. Shoes that promise to tone your legs and lift your butt are the new craze. No time to work out? No problem, just wear some special shoes to help melt the pounds away. These shoes carry a heavy price tag and Forbes has announced your money is better spent on a gym membership. Are you wasting your money or do these shoes actually work?
The theory behind all of the different “tone shoes” is to make you less stable so your legs work harder. The more you use your muscles, the stronger and better looking they will become. Your legs are made up of a number of different muscles. Some work harder than others. The shoes rock in abnormal directions or have different contours than a typical shoe or foot. This causes your leg muscles to work harder to keep you upright and walking normal. A simple concept, but does it work?
These shoes will work muscles that you are not used to working. Many will notice soreness in their butt and legs after their first few walks. I have no doubt that different muscles are being strengthened and that toning of your legs is essentially happening. The question is whether or not it is enough to be noticeable?
Very few dependable studies have been done to allow us to assess the long term outcomes of wearing the shoes. With no scientific evidence it is very easy to be skeptical. What I do know for sure is that there is no magic trick, magic product, or magic pill to help you lose weight. If you are simply buying the shoes and not changing your lifestyle, you will most definitely not see a change in your weight or muscle strength. If you buy the shoes and as a result start a walking program then, you will probably see a difference due your increased activity.
I do not discourage my patients from buying the shoes unless I feel their foot type puts them at an increased risk of injury. Since the shoe is intentionally making you unstable, it is important for the consumer to be stable in nature and able to withstand those abnormal forces. I caution elderly or the disabled since their gait can already be unsteady. The shoes will put them at higher risk for falls. Anyone who has had an ankle injury or has frequent ankle sprains should avoid theses shoes or wear with caution. The shoes can cause greater instability in the ankle and may lead to sprains or fractures. No one should use the shoes to run or play sports. The shoes are specifically designed for walking only.
Since these shoes function much different than your typical shoe, you should expect some discomfort after the first few times of wearing them. It is recommended to make a slow transition into the shoe to prevent overuse injuries. If you experience consistent pain or discomfort discontinue wearing the shoes and allow your muscles and feet to rest. Some shoes are not for everyone. Be sensible. Don’t replace your gym membership with a magic shoe; it will not work out in your favor.

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