A revolutionary sneaker, or overhyped gimmick?

USA Today—July 1, 2010

They are, advertisements say, a game-changer in athletic footwear: sneakers that are supposed to tone muscles, promote healthy weight loss and improve the posture of those who walk, work or shop in them.

The makers of "toning shoes" say the shoes can help give wearers more shapely butts, legs and abs, often without the need for gym workouts. That's partly why toning shoes — which often have a rounded sole like a rocking chair, to stretch the wearer's leg muscles with each stride — represent the fastest-growing segment of the $17 billion-a-year athletic footwear industry.

Busy moms and working women who spend much of the day on their feet — such as teachers, nurses, hairstylists and restaurant servers — are among the most devoted buyers of toning shoes, which typically sell for $100 to $250.

But now a growing number of doctors are warning that toning shoes don't deliver on their marketing promises and could cause injuries by, among other things, changing a person's gait, or way of walking.

Jonathan Deland, chief of foot and ankle service at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, warns the shoes can be "dangerous" for people with balance problems.

On the other hand, Deland acknowledges that he has worn Shape-ups and likes the way they make wearers use their muscles more to maintain balance.

"I don't want people to think these toning shoes are like going to the gym and feeling like you did a really great workout," Deland says.
"Can they help a bit? Yes."

Read the full story at usatoday.com.

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