Roughly ten years ago, the toning shoes were all the rage. These were footwear that were supposed to help you firm up and get an additional workout whenever using them. Many actually stated to be able to shape the ‘butt’ and remedy cellulite. That did not work out very good for the manufacturers with legal settlements and even with endorsements from celebrities the toning footwear rapidly fell off from being widely used.

Toning shoes or what’s also known as unstable footwear is footwear which is deliberately developed with rockers along with other design characteristics to make the shoes unstable to ensure that the muscles are meant to work harder to improve stability. It is this increased muscle exercise which had been alleged being a heightened workout when wearing the shoes, ie a tone up. After the shoes came to the market the medical assertions and presumed features made for them was really phenomenal. Several celebs and sports stars were used in publicity material to back up and market the assertions. Sales of these shoes were pretty large on the basis of these claims and believed health benefits.

As soon as the proper research was completed on these shoes, it did not support the claims which were being made for the advantages of the footwear. The research did demonstrate that muscle activity was greater and also the gait was relatively different when using the footwear, but it wasn’t adequate to provide all the many benefits that had been advertised for the shoes. As these were health alleged benefits that were getting made that were never supported by the research this caught the attention of the health and marketing regulating agencies in lots of countries and they became involved with lawsuits. This ended up with considerable multi-million dollar fines and settlements by several of the companies who were doing the false health alleged benefits. Several class action suits were in addition paid out based on assertions that those that used the footwear just didn’t obtain the advertised benefits from the shoes. This greatly affected sales and interest in this footwear and they essentially faded away.

There are still a number of toning shoes on the market that will be viewed as toning or unstable shoes and there is still some research happening with them. This does not necessarily imply that there is really anything erroneous with these types of shoes. The issue was simply the dramatically embellished assertions made for the shoes and the advertising and marketing about that. These kinds of toning footwear may have their uses. Health professionals continue to find the toning footwear to be extremely helpful for adjusting the way people move with conditions like painful knee osteoarthritis and many people who have lower back conditions that can be associated with the way in which individuals move. The reasoning is that if walking one way is difficult, then if a subtle modification can be achieved in the manner they move by using the toning shoes, after that there might be a lowering of discomfort. The only problem using this strategy is that the research is unclear on who could and will not benefit. They are also especially useful for individuals who have painful arthritis within the big toe joints.


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Craig Payne Author
University lecturer, runner, cynic, researcher, skeptic, forum admin, woo basher, clinician, rabble-rouser, blogger, dad.