Exercise shoes can be a pricey item of fitness equipment, but they are one of the most critical items of kit that you use. It doesn’t matter what sport you play or what your fitness program is, you need a good pair of shoes in order to get the maximum enjoyment and health benefits from it. If your shoes are badly designed, or if they don’t fit you properly, then you could get blisters, fail to enjoy your activity and even increase the risk of sprains and other injuries.
Certain types of sports require very specialized shoes, but most people will be happy with tennis shoes or cross trainers for general exercise – walking and jogging for example. At the moment, new designs of exercise shoes are appearing on the market. These are primarily aimed at people who either already walk for exercise or who would like to walk for exercise but struggle to find time to fit it in. They appear to have suddenly popped up from nowhere, and they are becoming so widely used that a new name has been given to them – “toning” shoes.
The theory is that these shoes are designed in a manner which increases the amount of work carried out by the lower body muscles whilst walking normally. There are now a number of different manufacturers, each with their own offerings available, and designs vary, but this is typically achieved by the use of a specially designed sole.
A lot of brands – such as Fit flops sandals, Skechers Shape Ups and Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) include a curved sole. The intent of this is to promote a gentle rolling motion when the foot makes contact with the ground. This replicates the effects of walking barefoot on soft sand and minimizes mechanical shocks.
Reebok Easy Tones are the most recent entrant to the market and these also make use of a specially engineered sole. However, instead of using a curved sole, Easy Tones have air pods included which produce a small amount of imbalance. The theory is that the muscles of the lower body will attempt to regain balance in order to compensate for this. This means that extra work is being carried out and your lower body gets toned. Fitflops also use this principle as well as the curved sole, in the shape of something they have dubbed “microwobbleboard” technology.
Of the brands on the market Fitflops and MBTs look least like exercise shoes. This will be an attractive proposition for many people as the shoes are claimed to be capable of providing you with a “workout while you walk”. Clearly the suggestion is that you can tone up your lower body just by wearing the shoes and going about your normal daily routine. To be strictly accurate, the main market for MBTs may be more from people wishing to reduce back and joint pain whilst improving posture rather than getting toned.
The Skechers Shape Ups range now includes some shoes which don’t look like exercise footwear. For example, Mary Janes are available. The Reebok Easy Tones range is much more focused on the mainstream fitness and exercise market and look very much like what they are – high tech fitness footwear.
So, can you really get a “workout while you walk” just by wearing these new wonder shoes? Can you really tone and trim your lower body just by pulling on a different pair of shoes in the morning? It’s definitely a very appealing proposition. There must be plenty of people who would love to get more exercise but find it difficult to schedule the time for this into their daily routine.
Just at the moment, there are varying opinions. Obviously all of the manufacturers are eager to cite the results of independent clinical tests which confirm the effectiveness of their products. There is certainly a lot of very positive feedback from satisfied users of this type of shoe. On the other hand, many doctors and health specialists have cast serious doubt over the claims made.
When all’s said and done, these shoes retail at around about the same price as normal exercise shoes. There’s a large choice of different brands, styles and colors – there’s bound to be something that you like. Perhaps the next time you need a new pair of shoes anyway, you might want to consider trying a pair of toning shoes and finding out if they work for you.
Tags: Product Reviews