by: Melissa L. Stuart, Attorney
The use of toning shoes as a fitness aid has been widely disputed. Toning shoes are sneakers that are designed with unstable or rocker-bottomed soles. This design forces the wearer to engage various muscle groups in order to maintain balance while walking and doing other activities. While the manufacturers of these shoes cite studies revealing increased calorie burn and muscle tone, many of these studies were conducted or funded by the manufacturer and lack statistical relevance. Third party studies conducted on the effectiveness of toning shoes tell a different story.
Many independent studies find that toning shoe wearers not only fail to gain any significant fitness benefits from these shoes, but they also place themselves at risk for serious injury with each wear. One study conducted by Dr. Albert Esquenazi, in conjunction with the IRCCS, an Italian research hospital, found that toning shoes such as Skechers Shape Ups can contribute to neuromuscular problems for wearers.
The study conducted by Dr. Esquenazi examined the gait of ten healthy volunteers and compared the performance results of Skechers Shape Ups, MBT toning shoes, and New Balance walking shoes in an effort to measure the effectiveness of walking patterns and muscle activation while wearing toning shoes. The goal of the study was to determine if these changes in muscle activation could improve fitness levels of the wearers similar to the claims made by the manufacturers of these shoes.
Dr. Esquenazi found the subjects’ gait was less efficient when wearing the toning shoes. Subjects who wore the MBT toning shoes and Skechers Shape Ups had a 60%-70% increase in ankle rotation. This is problematic. As the ankle rotates outward during a stride, the wearer can lose their balance and suffer a sprain or fall which can cause greater injury. The study also indicated an increase in vertical force on the leg, knee and ankle due to the altered gait caused by toning shoes. This increase in force can cause serious wear and injury to knee and ankle joints. Over half of the study subjects experienced an increase in vertical force, which can cause painful tendonitis, cartilage injuries and swelling of ligaments such as the ACL and MCL.
The study concluded that toning shoes made by manufacturers like Skechers and MBT create enough instability for the wearer to affect a change in normal walking patterns. These gait changes increase force on knee and ankle joints, which also increase the likelihood of injury. The change in gait also impacts muscle activation and over the long run can contribute to neuromuscular problems such as plantar fasciitis, bursitis, and hammer toe.
The medical community states that more research is necessary to determine the long-term effects of wearing toning shoes. However, many people have already witnessed first-hand the impact that toning shoes have had on their bodies via serious injuries and have filed lawsuits against manufacturers like Skechers. Claims involving broken bones, tendon and ligament injuries, and head trauma due to falls have been filed against toning shoe manufacturers. If you or someone you care about has purchased a pair of Skechers Shape Ups and has suffered a serious injury, you may be entitled to compensation.
Toning Shoes Can Cause Neuromuscular Problems
by: Melissa L. Stuart, Attorney