Toning shoes, which are also known as rocker bottom shoes or round bottom shoes, are an enormously popular type of footwear, especially among the middle-aged and older segments of the population. They are easily discernible by their distinctive shape, which is reminiscent of the base of a rocker chair (hence, “rocker bottoms”), and this strange shape allegedly serves a special purpose. The shoes are shaped such that different leg muscles are supposedly engaged when moving, and these types of shoes claim to help the user strengthen his or her leg muscles and get a workout by simply walking around as normal. But how true are these claims? And are these shoes even safe? Below you will find the top three basic facts about toning shoes:
1. They probably don’t work.
Despite the claims of toning shoe manufacturers, the effectiveness of these shoes is hotly debated. While the makers of rocker bottom shoes claim that the shoes tone the leg muscles and provide the user with a complete workout because of their special shape, there is much evidence suggesting otherwise. A number of universities have conducted studies on toning shoes to test whether the manufacturers’ claims were, in fact, accurate, and the vast majority of these studies concluded that the shoes simply do not live up to their hype.
In these studies, despite exercisers claiming to feel a difference in their legs, those exercisers who wore toning shoes during their workouts engaged the same leg muscles, used the same amount of oxygen (a measure of an aerobic activity’s intensity), and ultimately burned the same number of calories as they did when wearing regular workout shoes. What’s more, it was also found that many of the studies that did support the claims of toning shoe manufacturers were actually sponsored by the manufacturing companies themselves!
2. They could be dangerous.
Anything that alters your natural gait is potentially dangerous, and toning shoes are designed to do just that. These shoes are designed to change the way you walk, and they purposely aim to put you slightly off balance in order to force you to engage muscles that you might not ordinarily use. While this might not sound like an immediate danger, it can pose a number of problems to the shoes’ wearers. Although there have been few conclusive studies on the shoes’ dangers, the lack of balance caused by toning shoes can result in falls, as well as undue stress and strain placed on the hips and ankles. In fact, class action lawsuits have recently been filed against toning shoe manufacturers as a result of these injuries. The fact that these shoes are quite popular among the elderly only enhances these risks.
3. But they aren’t all bad.
The fact that toning shoes probably don’t live up to their hype does not mean that they are without merit. Although rocker shoes probably do not cause you to use different muscles or work harder to move, they ARE effective in that they can act as a motivation to workout. If toning shoes cause their wearers to become more physically active – even if only by acting as a reminder that one should exercise regularly – then they still serve a beneficial purpose. Toning shoes might not be effective in and of themselves, but, if wearing toning shoes will motivate you to exercise more often, then by all means, purchase a pair.
The question of whether or not toning shoes are a smart option for consumers has a very personal answer. They might not live up to their lofty fitness claims, and they could be dangerous for some users, but if they will act as an effective reminder to remain physically active, then they could be a viable shoe choice.
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