There are a number of companies that have manufactured running shoes that are called “toning shoes.”
They are shaped a little like a rocker with air pockets in the sole that are supposed to create the effect of making your gait a little unstable, similar to the effect of using a stability ball in the gym.
The overall benefit is supposed to make you use more muscle activity in the legs and butt which will ‘shape’ and ‘tone’ those muscles, burn more calories than regular shoes, and therefore make you slimmer.
A number of people asked me my opinion on these shoes and I gave a cautious answer saying that there had been no real studies done on them at that time so one could not say for sure, even though many aspects of the design and marketing made the claims very suspicious and I remained incredulous to say the least.
The whole concept of ‘shaping’ and ‘toning’ used in marketing are basically meaningless words and give allusions to being able spot-reduce fat deposits, a concept which has thoroughly been discredited for a long time now.
One of the shoe companies had commissioned a study done at the University of Delaware in 2008 and the results gloriously vindicated their claims. The problem was that the study that was paid for by the shoe company.
Anytime a study is paid for by the company that is making money by selling the product being studied, red flags go up, especially when the results are favourable to the company.
Recently, the American Council on Exercise published the results of an independent study done at the University of Wisconsin which showed that there was no additional benefit to wearing the special ‘toner’ shoes over regular running shoes.
The study monitored the muscle activity of leg, hip and core muscles, and looked at heart rate, oxygen consumption, calories burned and perceived effort of three brands of ‘toning’ shoes and compared them to normal running shoes.
No significant difference was found in any of the variables in all shoe categories.
How could the Delaware study, paid for by the shoe companies, find such a large improvement – an 11 per cent improved level of strength in leg muscles and a 28 per cent better sculpted tush – while the independent study at Wisconsin found zero difference?
There was a lawsuit and the shoe companies were forced to settle out of court and refund some $25 million dollars to customers who bought the shoes because the companies made unsupported claims in their ‘deceptive advertising.’
The shoe companies stated that despite settling, they disagree with the ruling of the FTC.
What would be alternative ways to achieve the physical results promised by the toner-style shoe companies?
Why not go for walks that are a little longer or faster than you are used to, or try walking or running around hilly areas or trails?
There is no quick-fix or substitute for regular hard work.
Kerry Senchyna holds a bachelor of science degree in kinesiology and is owner of West Coast Kinesiology in Maple Ridge. For more, visit www.westcoastkinesiology.com.