A Brief Toning Shoe Overview
A healthy diet, combined with regular exercise, is the best, and most effective way to get into shape and stay in good health. Nevertheless, looking for short cuts, “multi-tasking if you prefer, is just human nature – which is perfectly understandable when you consider the fact that, despite all of our labor saving gadgets and devices, many people are pressed for time these days.
So, the appearance of “toning shoes”, which claim to help you to tone and trim your legs and bottom just by wearing them as you walk about during the course of your daily routine, will be very welcome news for a lot of people. It’s a delicious notion – but how do toning shoes work? In fact, do they genuinely work?
How Do Toning Shoes Work?
There’s a variety of different toning shoe brands and styles for consumers to choose from. However, most of the major toning shoe brands seem to use a special design of sole. Sole design differs from one brand to another, but the introduction of a small element of instability during walking seems to be the general theory. The muscles in the lower body react to this and attempt to re-establish the natural equilibrium of the body. The effect of this is that the muscles work just a little harder than normal – which is how the toning benefits are delivered. Some toning shoes also claim to modify gait and/or posture – but it’s the generation of instability which seems to be the important factor.
Different Brands Of Toning Shoes
Currently, Skechers are the market leaders, with their Shape Ups range. Shapes Ups have a very distinctive, thick, rocker type sole, which includes a kinetic insert. This is designed in order to mimic the mechanics of walking on soft sand in bare feet, and to promote a gentle rolling motion as well as providing the necessary imbalance.
Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) Shoes also use a curved sole which is similar to the Skechers approach. Karl Muller, a Swiss engineer, came up with the concept of MBT shoes after he noticed that his back pain, a recurring problem for him, was considerably better than normal whilst walking barefoot across a Korean rice field. He discovered, after a little more research, that the Masai tribesmen of Africa, who mainly walk barefoot, are well known for their excellent posture and, unlike Europeans and Americans, hardly ever suffer from lower back pain. And that’s how MBTs came into being.
Reebok EasyTones are a fairly new entrant to the market, and they have a very different design. With EasyTones, the imbalance is produced as a result of special air pads – known as “balance pods” – in the sole of the shoes. An ex-NASA engineer designed this system – so there is clearly some science at the back of it. They are proving to be extremely popular and are currently in second place in the toning shoe market despite their somewhat tardy appearance.
FitFlops are slightly different, they could even be considered to be the joker in the toning shoes pack. They are certainly very colorful, fun and fashionable! They started life in the UK as a range of flip flop type sandals with a specially designed sole which has different densities of material in different areas. This produces instability whilst walking thanks to what FitFlops call the “microwobbleboard” effect. Clogs, sneakers, slippers and boots were later added to the FitFlop range in response to customer demand.
FitFlops look nothing like exercise footwear – which means that they can be worn in situations, and with outfits, where fitness footwear might not work so well. FitFlop wearers can therefore make use of them more often to get good value for money using their funky toning footwear. It’s also worth noting that FitFlops are well known for their extreme comfort. The special toning sole also provides extra support, especially in the area of the arch of the foot, and this lowers the average pressure on the sole of the foot, which makes FitFlops very comfortable to wear and to walk in.
Are Toning Shoes Effective?
The various footwear manufacturers have carried out different tests and trials to verify the effectiveness of their products. Numerous testimonials (unsolicited no doubt) from satisfied toning shoe users also seem to confirm that they are, at least for some people, effective. Of course, there are those – and the American Council for Exercise (ACE) are in this number – who dismiss the study results and say that toning shoe claims are no more than hype.
Nevertheless, toning shoes are becoming ever more popular and are a big hit with their target audience – time starved professional women and soccer moms, who want to stay in shape but struggle to fit visits to the gym into their schedule or their budget. Even if toning shoes meet all the claims made for them, they shouldn’t be considered to be a substitute for regular exercise and a healthy, balanced diet. All the same, they might be a very useful supplement to an existing workout routine – and, if they prompt wearers to walk more than they would otherwise do, then that’s a very worthwhile result in itself.