This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
If you believe the advertisements on TV or in magazines, a simple pair of walking shoes can help you get better legs and a better bottom.
The ads sound too good to be true. And they are.
Toning shoes, made by numerous companies including Reebok, New Balance and Crocs, are popular among women and girls because they seem like a simple way to become toned and thin. However, the damage these shoes can cause outweighs any benefits which studies have shown are negligible.
The American College of Sports Medicine released a report in June that showed muscle activation and oxygen consumption were virtually the same whether women wore Skechers Shape-ups or not.
A similar study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse found the number of calories burned was the same whether subjects wore ordinary athletic shoes or toning shoes.
Toning shoes also might lead to posture problems and poor proprioception or the body's ability to detect subtle changes in movement, position and force, thus protecting us from injury.
A study by the University of Calgary found volunteers had trouble adjusting to rocker shoes. Initially, there was some strengthening and stabilizing of certain muscles in the feet, but the imbalances diminished as the bodies adjusted to the shoes.
This could explain why there is little caloric benefit to toning shoes. It also illustrates what is wrong with them they put the wearer's body in an unnatural position.
While there is little scientific evidence about the injury risk of the shoes, any time you are changing the body's natural gait, it is a concern. Every step you take doesn't just affect the foot, it affects everything from the low back all the way up to the neck and head.
We already know that women who frequently wear high heels often have posture problems because the body must alter its natural alignment to compensate for the forward posture high heels create.
It's also not uncommon for frequent wearers of high heels to have increased back curvatures, forward head posture and hyperextended knees, all of which can lead to joint aches, headaches and other ailments.
Rather than forcing the body to work in an abnormal pattern, it is far better to let it work as it was designed, with as minimal a shoe as possible.
This explains why minimalist shoes and barefoot running have also become popular.
Many experts believe these are far better for the body because they allow the foot to work as it is designed. These shoes don't push the body forward, and thus they help to keep your eyes on the horizon. As your eyes go, so too will the rest of your body. If your head and neck are balanced, the more likely the rest of your body will be in proper alignment, too.
The best thing you can do for your body is allow it to move naturally. In the end, you'll probably burn more calories and feel better.
Lya Wodraska is a certified CHEK Practitioner and Holistic Lifestyle Coach. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook: @lyatribuneTwitter: @LyaWodraska