Toning Shoes

The latest trend in sneaker sales is toning shoes – athletic footwear that has an other than flat sole. The Globe reports today that the sky rocketing sales of these shoes has revived the sagging sneaker industry. The theory is that the oddly shaped bottom – some are curved like the bottom of a rocking chair, others are more randomly configured – give the leg muscles an extra workout just by maintaining one’s balance while wearing the shoes. The shoe industry claims they work; podiatrist claim they can cause injury.

Coincidentally, I had just spoken with someone who recently purchased a pair of these shoes and had a few observations gained after wearing the sneakers on a couple of neighborhood walks: they are extremely comfortable but they do force you to change your gait. Rather than walk in a normal stride which would be somewhat unstable, the rocker soles cause you to walk heel to toe. That unusual motion uses different muscles or the same muscles differently so you do feel like you’ve had a workout once you’re done. Thus far, no adverse effects have been experienced.

As for me, I won’t be buying a pair. I’ve been running for exercise and enjoyment for more than 30 years but for the past five I’ve noticed that if I change anything about my footwear the result is knee pain. In fact, I regularly surf the internet looking for the particular model of size 11 Reebok running shoes that allows me pain-free running. When I find some, I stock up, sometimes buying multiple pairs for future use since they get pretty beaten up after a year’s use.

As for the toning shoes, if anyone’s tried them out, please share your experience with us.