Skechers Shape-Ups “Get in shape without setting foot in a gym!”
Reebok Easytone “Better legs and a better butt with every step!”
Many of you have probably seen the commercials promoting the latest craze in shoe technology. Collectively these shoes can be known as toners. Former professional athletes Karl Malone, Joe Montana, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are just a few celebrities that are promoting the shoes. Skechers Shape-Ups and Reebok Easytone shoes claim to increase muscle tone by activating muscles that are usually not used while walking.
Skechers Shape-Ups utilize a wedge insert and a rocker-bottom sole. The shoes are designed to make it feel like you are walking on sand. With each step your heel sinks then you roll forward as your weight shifts.
Rocker-bottom technology has been used for years as a form of therapy in people suffering from arthritis. The rocker sole changes the biomechanics of the foot, causing instability. Toner shoes believe that instability is positive. The instability caused by the rocking motion changes the forces on the foot and causes muscles to be activated that are not normally used. This increased muscle activity drives companies to use the design.
Reebok EasyTone uses balance ball technology to create micro-instability. The air pockets are located on the bottom of the shoe. Just like with the Shape-Ups, the idea is that the instability leads to increased muscle activity. The commercials may be entertaining and the idea may sound good, but the question is “Do these shoes really work?”
Researchers from the American Council on Exercise put the shoes to the test. EasyTones, Shape-ups, and MBT’s were put to the test. Participants were placed in the shoes then put on treadmills. The researchers then measured muscle activity in the participants calves, quads, hamstrings, buttocks, back, and abs. In the end researchers found “no significant increase in muscle activity when comparing toners to normal sneakers.” “There is simply no evidence to support the claims that these shoes will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories, or improve muscle strength and tone,” the report found.
As with many things, moderation is the key. I have many clients who wear these types of shoes for 1-2 hours per day for walking, and find them comfortable. If you are unsure if they are right for you, have your foot specialist check them for you, before you wear them and potentially cause an injury.