Thursday, March 3, 2011

The New Breakout Category in Athletic Footwear

EasyTone Reebok Advertisement
I’m sure you have come across an advert in a magazine or have at least seen one of the many “toning shoes” available in shop windows. In the last 6 months there has been an emergence of a number of toning shoes made for women by a variety of leading sports brands. The manufacturers seem to promise similar outcomes namely of increased leg muscle activation that would result in a firmer butt and more toned leg muscles by simply walking in their shoes.

However being an exercise scientist I had my reservations of the accuracy of the above claims. I began doing my homework reading a number of different reviews of the Easy tone (Reebok), bodytrain (Puma), trubalance (New balance) and shape-ups (sketchers). All these reviews touched on design, price, color and the level comfort experienced by the wearer. I must say after reading the reviews I was impressed with the aesthetic attributes of the shoe. 
But my search for scientific based evidence was not over. There is a variety of “scientific evidence” available on the web. Most of the brands that have launched toning shoes have claimed to have done studies backing the effectiveness of their particular shoe. But it must be noted that these studies have not been open to peer-review and have often followed a questionable experimental design. These research studies have often been funded by the respective brands themselves. This in my opinion raises some suspicion to the reliability and validity of their findings.
In my pursuit of some validation the American Council of Exercise (ACE) came to my aid. The ACE devised a study to test the effectiveness of the shoes and to test the claims. “Across the board, none of the toning shoes showed statistically significant increases in either exercise response or muscle activation during any of the treadmill trials .There is simply no evidence to support the claims that these shoes will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories or improve muscle strength and tone."

Results of the ACE study
I got my answer -the shoes don’t work. Regardless of my findings that would not stop me from buying a pair, purely on the basis of making a fashion statement. ;-)

To read the actual ACE articles go to the link above
Written by : Jade Davids             

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