Are Toning Shoes Likely To Do You More Harm Than Good?
For many busy women, trying to juggle a career with family commitments, toning shoes must seem like a gift from the gods. Toning shoes promise to give their wearers a free lower body workout - just by walking about like they would be doing anyway over the course of their normal day.
They do this thanks to a specially designed sole. The actual design varies from brand to brand - but the common principle seems to be the addition of a small amount of imbalance and instability to the normal walking process. This causes the lower body muscles to react by trying to re-establish the natural equilibrium of the body, during which process a little additional work is performed. That's how the toning benefits are generated.
Toning your legs and trimming your butt by doing nothing other than pulling on a different pair of shoes is something of a big deal - so it's hardly surprising that toning shoes are proving to be very popular with women worldwide. Toning shoe sales have sky-rocketed over the last couple of years. Toning shoe sales amounted to just $ 17 million in 2008 - sales estimates for 2010 are somewhere between $ 1 billion and $ 1.5 billion. Toning shoes have become very popular very quickly.
However, notwithstanding the surge in toning shoe popularity, potential buyers may well have been given pause for thought in light of recent events. A 38 year old waitress from Ohio is suing Skechers, claiming that the extended use of Skechers Shape Up Shoes caused her to suffer two hip fractures after she wore her Shape Ups, mainly at work, for a five month period.
It's anything but an open and shut case. Extended use was involved and it sounds as if the shoes were being used as work wear rather than as an aid to an exercise program or walking routine. Even so, Skechers have attracted a fair bit of bad publicity - as have toning shoes in general. It would be quite understandable if some people were experiencing doubts about either buying toning shoes or the continued use of toning shoes that they already own.
Some Sensible Precautions
Thankfully, there are a number of fairly simple steps that you can take to help put your mind at ease. For example, the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) has reviewed and examined a variety of different styles and brands of toning shoes - some of which have been awarded the APMA seal of acceptance. Whilst this shouldn't be taken to mean that the APMA validate the claimed toning benefits, it does mean that toning shoes which have received the APMA can be considered to be "foot friendly" and conducive to good foot health.
As mentioned previously, most toning shoes operate on the principle of introducing imbalance into the walking process in order to make the lower body muscles work a little harder. What that means is that, if you suffer from balance problems, toning shoes may not be a good choice for you. Anyone who has Achilles tendon problems might also be well advised to avoid the use of toning shoes.
Toning shoes should also be used strictly in accordance with the manufacturer's instruction. There are now some toning shoes available which are suitable for jogging or running - but most of them are specifically designed for walking. If your toning shoes are designed for walking, don't use them for jogging, running or any other sporting activity that involves rapid changes in either direction or pace. That could cause problems due to the generated imbalance.
When you first get your toning shoes, take time to break them in - just like you would do with any normal pair of shoes. Wear them for short spells only to begin with and build up to longer stints over time.
If you do experience any unusual pain or discomfort, either during or after walking in your toning shoes, then seek the advice of your doctor - which is always a good idea before embarking on any new fitness regime anyway.
In summary, for most people, toning shoes are not just perfectly safe to wear but, as long as you take a few sensible precautions, could prove to be very beneficial to them.
1. Select toning shoes which have been awarded the APMA seal of acceptance.
2. Use toning shoes in strict accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines.
3. Never use toning shoes for activities, sporting or otherwise, for which they were not designed.
4. Do not use toning shoes if you have pre-existing health problems with your balance or Achilles tendon.
5. Take some time to break in your toning shoes – just as you would with conventional footwear.
6. Seek medical advice if you suffer from abnormal discomfort or pain.
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