For muscle activation, researchers used electromyography to record muscle activity in six muscles: the calf muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks, back and abdominals. They found no significant difference between the toning and running shoes for oxygen consumption, how much oxygen people took in versus being at rest, and caloric expenditure. The second muscle activation study revealed subtle differences, sometimes favoring each shoe, but ultimately no significant differences among the shoes.
Shoe manufacturers back their claims with studies, but the American Council of Exercise said those studies are not peer-reviewed. To read the study, visit www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/720/.
Toning shoes join a long list of fad shoes and marketing ploys — not all necessarily fitness-related. A few popular concepts and brands are Reebok’s Pumps, Moon boots/shoes, L.A. Lights, Wheelies, flip-flops, Crocs and Nike Shox.
Huff said one brand similar to toning shoes is Earth Footwear, which have a 3.7-degree incline from heel to toe. The company states on its website that the negative heel helps people strengthen and tone their bodies with every step and naturally redistributes body weight.
Huff disagrees with those claims and said that the incline doesn’t promote better posture either.
LaMoure said some of her runner friends are trying the barefoot shoes like those by Masai, which separate the toes.
“They protect the bottom of your feet from the elements, but it’s like a very expensive sock,” LaMoure said. “People are supposed to build up slowly (their tolerance) with miles but (friends) say they are getting great results.”
Overall, LaMoure said she wouldn’t recommend the toning shoes for people who do a lot of activity.
“If they say they can’t run, I ask them how they can increase their heart rate on a walk. Do you incorporate a hill on your walk, wear weighted vests or backpacks by putting weight closer to your body?” she said.
LaMoure recommends people talk to a trainer or a doctor before wearing the shoes.
Huff said he has patients who enjoy toning shoes.
“A lot of people are bulletproof and they could wear anything without lower extremity problems,” Huff said. “People like fads and (toning shoes) are making their manufacturers a lot of money.”
He said those without leg, foot or ankle troubles need not consult a doctor about the shoes unless there are existing or developing problems in the lower extremities.
Toning shoes are available at most shoe dealers in the county and online and cost about $100.
Reach Matthew Nash at email@example.com.