The Truth about Tush-toning Shoes
BY: Karen Asp
As a personal trainer, I'm always looking for ways to sneak more activity into my life and the lives of my clients. So when toning shoes hit the market, I had to give them a try. The promises, after all, were alluring: They supposedly could tone my lower body and give me a workout without a trip to the gym.
The shoes felt goofy when I first put them on, largely because of their balance-challenging curved soles. I adapted quickly to that, fortunately, and my legs did feel a little tired after wearing them for several hours.
But did that mean these toning shoes were actually doing what they claim, getting me fitter and leaner? Not necessarily. According to a recent study conducted by the American Council on Exercise, toning shoes didn’t help exercisers work more intensely, burn more calories or improve muscle strength or tone. What's more, frequently cited studies that support the shoes' supposed effectiveness have been criticized by experts as not being peer-reviewed or well-designed.
Toning shoes may, however, offer some benefits. Other studies have shown that these shoes activate muscles in the foot and ankle that are underworked while wearing traditional shoes. As a result, they may help decrease joint pain, reduce musculoskeletal disorders like osteoarthritis and plantar fasciitis (which causes heel and foot pain), and improve balance.
So do I still wear my toning shoes? The answer is yes -- but only for casual walking, like when I'm cruising through the mall or walking my dog. I don’t wear them for fitness walking or running, as some manufacturers suggest.
Bottom line: Toning shoes can be fun, but if you don’t have heaps of extra cash, stick with your regular walking shoes, commit to daily exercise, and sink the dough you've saved into a gym membership or personal training sessions.
Karen Asp is a fitness and health writer and a certified personal trainer who writes for numerous publications, including SELF, Glamour, Women’s Health, Family Circle, Prevention, Redbook and Men’s Fitness. Karen is a frequent contributor to Live Right Live Well.