You’ve probably seen the ads for toning shoes that claim you’ll get a better contoured derrière by wearing them. But do they really work?

Since the summer of 2009, toning shoes have become the fastest-growing division of the shoe industry. According to shoe manufacturers, toning shoes are athletic shoes that are designed to improve your health by making your leg muscles work harder with regular everyday wear. Toning shoes are also called wellness shoes, fitness shoes, and/or rocker bottom or rocker sole shoes. And they are projected to grow into a $1 billion market within a few years.

How Are Toning Shoes Different from Normal Athletic Shoes?

Toning shoes are constructed with cushioned insoles that mold to your individual feet and thicker outer soles that are often curved. These shoes are designed to create stability issues as you walk, therefore causing you to use different muscles in order to maintain control of your body’s natural equilibrium. They activate muscles in your legs, glutes, hips, back, stomach, neck and shoulders.

There are three types of toning shoes based upon the outer sole design:

Rocker bottom sole – The design of these shoes are intended to promote a natural walking gait. The round shape of the outer sole causes your foot and lower leg to rock forward as weight is transferred from your heel to your toe as you walk. They come in ridged soles used for walking only; semi-ridged soles used for walking and jogging; and flexible soles used for walking, jogging, running, and cross-training.

Curved sole – These shoes produce lateral instability and can be used for walking and jogging. However, any activities that require sideways movement should be avoided.

Collapsible heel – These shoes simulate the motion of walking in sand and should only be used for walking.

The Benefits of Toning Shoes

According to the shoe manufacturers and fans of toning shoes, there are several advantages to wearing these shoes. Toning shoes can:

  • Improve balance and posture.
  • Strengthen and condition the muscles of the legs and butt.
  • Reduce stress on the joints.
  • Cause you to burn more calories by increasing metabolism.
  • Reduce back, leg, or foot pain due to altered weight distribution.
  • Improve your gait.

Health and Safety Risks Associated with Toning Shoes

Several studies suggest that there isn’t enough evidence to support the beneficial claims that manufacturers make about toning shoes. Also, many medical experts say there are several health and safety risks associated with their use. These include:

  • An increased risk of falls, especially in people with a history of falls, ankle instability, vertigo, or poor balance.
  • An increased risk of tripping or falling in people with in-toeing or out-toeing conditions.
  • Problems with the knees, feet, and strained Achilles tendons.
  • Problems with balance.
  • Altered gait.
  • An increased risk of stress fractures.

Other considerations that have been voiced about toning shoes include:

  • Their appearance, which many feel are uglier than normal athletic shoes.
  • They’re heavier, causing your legs to feel tired and sore at the end of the day.

Should You Wear Them?

While manufacturers tout them for everyday use, experts say you shouldn’t wear them to replace regular exercise. If you do wear them, you should incorporate them into an existing weekly exercise routine of walking or jogging.

If you do decide to wear toning shoes, and you have any foot issues, like plantar faciitis, arch or heel pain, you may want to consider wearing a supportive insole, like the ezWalker® Performance Insole, with your toning shoes. These insoles are custom made for each of your feet to provide you with improved biomechanical position to realign your gait correctly. You’ll have better balance, stability, and posture with every step you make. And ezWalker® Performance Insoles can be worn in any of your shoes – casual and athletic footwear, work shoes and boots, and even fashionable high heels. So order your ezWalker® insoles today.

ezWalker® insoles make all your shoes feel like they walk for you.