I’m sure you’ve seen them around. Shoes that claim to shave extra calories just by wearing them. Many of these shoes are designed with a “rocker” or unstable sole that supposedly increases muscle activation, leading to more calorie spent. Many manufacturers have hopped on this wagon (including: Sketchers “shape-ups”, reebok, MBT, etc.). But do these shoes really help tone your body? Lets first take a look at the 2 major claims:
- Toning shoes lead to higher activation of muscles in the lower leg, buttocks, and thigh
- Toning shoes lead to a greater caloric expenditure
So lets look at the research. On a side note, here’s a classic example of how you have to be careful when interpreting studies. Many of the clinical studies that support the benefits of these shoes tend to be funded by the manufacturers themselves. Sometimes it takes a bit of digging to find this out, but trust me, all information can be found if you look hard enough.
Here’s a study that I’m sure was independently conducted. The researchers compared toning shoes (various brands) to normal New Balance runners with respect to physiological variables such as energy expenditure. They also used a technique called electromyography (EMG) to actually measure the muscle activity while the shoes were worn.
Long story short, they found no differences between the toning shoes and the regular runners in terms of energy expenditure OR muscle activity!
So despite the commercials featuring well-toned celebrities, please be aware. Sometimes shortcuts are too good to be true.