Toning shoes must seem like the answer to many busy women’s prayers. They promise their wearer a free lower body workout just by walking around, as they would normally be doing anyway, throughout the course of their daily routine.
This is achieved by the use of a specially designed sole which generates a small amount of imbalance whilst walking. The lower body muscles react to the imbalance by trying to re-establish the body’s natural equilibrium and this causes them to perform a little extra work. That’s how the toning benefits are delivered.
Unsurprisingly, toning shoes are proving to be extremely popular – especially with women, although styles for men do certainly exist. Over the last couple of years, toning shoe sales have really taken off. In 2008, toning shoe sales amounted to just $ 17 million. Sales estimates for 2010 are in excess of $ 1 billion and possibly as high as $ 1.5 billion. This growth in sales has taken place at a time when, due to a somewhat gloomy financial landscape, footwear sales have been in a slight decline.
However, despite the popularity of toning shoes, prospective buyers may be given pause for thought as a result of recent events. A 38 year old Ohio waitress is suing Skechers, alleging that prolonged use of their Shape Up shoes caused her inury. She suffered two hip fractures having worn Shape Ups for a five month period, mainly at work.
It’s far from an open and shut case. Prolonged use was involved and the shoes were used as work wear rather than an addition to an exercise program. Nevertheless, there has been a lot of adverse publicity for Skechers – and for toning shoes in general. It would be quite understandable if some people had concerns over either buying new toning shoes or continuing to use toning shoes that they may already have.
Fortunately there are a number of things that you can do to put your mind at ease. In the first instance, be aware that the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) has examined a number of different types of toning shoes and awarded them a seal of acceptance. That doesn’t mean that they underwrite the toning benefits of toning shoes – but it does mean that toning shoes which have been awarded the APMA seal can be considered to be “foot friendly” and safe to wear. Even so, it’s very comforting to know.
Designs of toning shoes vary from brand to brand. However, the common approach seems to be the introduction of an element of imbalance into the walking process which makes the lower body muscles work a little bit harder as they naturally attempt to compensate for this and regain the body’s equilibrium. That’s how the toning benefits are achieved.
It does mean that, if you suffer from balance problems, then toning shoes may not be for you. In a similar vein, anyone who has problems with their Achilles tendon may need to either avoid toning shoes or choose the correct type for them.
Toning shoes should also be used in strict accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. As previously stated, toning shoe designs vary from brand to brand. However, the large majority of toning shoes are intended for use whilst walking (although some designs are now becoming available that are suitable for jogging or running). If your toning shoes are designed for walking then use them for that only. Don’t use them for running, jogging or for any sporting activity that involves sudden changes in either pace or direction. Otherwise the generated imbalance may lead to problems.
As with any normal footwear, you should take time to break in your toning shoes and become accustomed to them. Wear them for short periods only when you first try them out. You can build up to longer spells over time.Finally, if you do experience any abnormal pain or discomfort during, or after, walking, do seek the advice of your doctor. In fact, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor prior to starting any new fitness program.
In summary, for the large majority of people, toning shoes are not only perfectly safe to wear but, as long as you take a few sensible precautions, may well prove to be very beneficial to you.
1.Choose toning shoes which have the APMA seal of acceptance.
2.Use toning shoes in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
3.Do not use toning shoes for activities, sporting or otherwise, for which they were not designed.
4.Do not use toning shoes if you have pre-existing problems with your balance or Achilles tendon.
5.Take time to break in your toning shoes – just like you would do with standard footwear.
6.Seek medical advice if you suffer from abnormal discomfort or pain.