Tone-up shoes have become a huge business, with claims that they’re unusually shaped soles can help to tone the legs and bum of the wearer as compensation for how ridiculous they look. But sadly, we’ve got bad news. A growing body of evidence suggests that they don’t do anything more than ordinary shoes…
Dr. John Mercer, a professor of biomechanics at the University of Nevada, asked a group of healthy young female students to walk on a treadmill for 10 minutes at a time while wearing either, a normal walking shoe or a toning shoe.
He and his colleagues then attached sensors to the women’s legs to measure the electrical impulses generated by their muscles. They also measured the women’s oxygen consumption and calorific output, to see if they worked harder and burned more calories with one shoe rather than the other.
The results showed that muscle activation and oxygen consumption were almost identical whether the women wore walking shoes or toning shoes. Though previous research has shown that walking in a rocker-style toning shoe, changes the way that the forces generated by the foot striking the ground move up the leg, this shifting of forces didn’t appear to have a significant effect on muscle activation. In fact, according to the authors of the previous study:
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
In yet another study, a team of Canadian researchers at the University of Calgary had volunteers wear toning shoes throughout the day for six weeks. In the beginning, the volunteers wobbled in the unstable shoes, activating and strengthening small, underused muscles in the feet and ankles that stabilize balance. But after six weeks, their bodies had adjusted to the change in balance and those stabilizing muscles were not being exercised to the same extent.
In other words, the shoes had only provided benefits for a limited time and only to small stabilising muscles rather than the muscles in the wearers’ calves and buttocks that are supposed to benefit.
Actually, this limited effect is not really surprising. Due to the fact that the body is designed to perform tasks using as little energy as possible, our muscles will adapt quickly to any changes in the demands made of them, effectively nullifying the effects of any exercise that isn’t progressive. In other words, unless your shoes become progressively hard to walk in, you may as well throw them out after a couple of weeks…
Source : NY Times