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THE LOWDOWN ON TONING SHOES

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Can the instability created by toning shoes really help you get into better shape? Jagruti Verma finds out

A number of well-known shoe brands including Reebok and Adidas are known for their range of toning shoes. The attractively advertised shoe type, it is claimed, is made with designs backed by research that help to tone your bottom and calf muscles as you walk or run. We weren’t sure whether to get on board, especially since Nike has held its ground against the shoes since 2010, claiming that there are no shortcuts to toning — training is the best way to get it. Experts who studied the effectiveness of the toning shoe for the American Council of Exercise, concluded that although the claims about bottom toning and calorie burning are misleading, these shoes do serve as a motivational tool and so they could help you to tone certain parts of your body — if you also train well, of course. 

THE BASICS INVOLVED
Unwilling to depend on a single study, we decided to speak with G. K. Balaji, head of the physiotherapy department at S. L. Raheja Hospital, Fortis Associate, Mahim, to find out more about this type of shoe. He tells us that these days, rocker sole shoes — they help you get a curve in your feet if you suffer from flat foot — are being marketed as toning shoes and despite the fact that brands differ in technical and design aspects, their shoes make use of the same basic principles. A few have unstable, strongly curved soles, and walking in these shoes is similar to exercising on a wobble or balance board, or walking on a sandy beach. Although claims by manufacturers remain the same, the instability created by the shoes does demand that the muscles of your feet, legs, bottom and abdominal area work more, which promotes weight loss. However, despite these claims, there is no evidence that wearing toning shoes will assist in toning your legs or help you to burn more calories. In fact, researchers actually suggest that using these shoes incorrectly and for long stretches at a time could lead to neuromuscular problems such as muscle soreness, ankle sprains, tendonitis, cartilage injuries, ligament injuries and plantar fasciitis.

WORKING THE MUSCLES
Can wearing a pair of shoes, albeit a specially designed pair, replace the hard work that it takes to achieve a toned physique? Perhaps they supplement the task, making your job easier. We spoke with Sourabh Kulkarni, technical head of strength and conditioning at the H.E.A.L Institute, to know more.
What you have to understand is that these shoes have a significant effect on the way your foot touches the ground and on the way you walk (your walking mechanics). Sourabh explains that although these factors can result in temporary muscle soreness, the pain eventually goes away as your foot gets accustomed to the shoe. And, when you go back to your regular shoes, you will go through the same process in reverse. However, he stresses on the fact that there has been no concrete research conducted on the effects of these shoes on body strength, muscle toning and their ability to boost metabolism (or even burn calories). So, not much can be said about the effects that these shoes might have on an individual as they’re working out.

WHAT IF I DON’T WORK OUT?
Manasi Rajadhyaksha, senior physiotherapist at the H.E.A.L Institute, is also of the opinion that more research needs to be done on the subject. So, don’t blindly believe the claims. She tells us, “Some varieties tend to increase the ground reaction that is forced up the body and may help to stimulate the bottom muscles and quadriceps (the muscles on the front of your thigh) more than regular shoes. However, there is no specific data to support this.” But, if you are still willing to give them a shot, she suggests considering your foot type before you buy a pair. Remember though, that the greater instability can increase your chances of picking up an injury.

THINGS YOU SHOULD REMEMBER
We know that you’re in a hurry to get your legs toned. However, take a few moments to read through these points, which will help you make a better decision.

Don’t depend on your shoes to get toned legs. Instead, exercise and eat healthy!

If you have any history of leg injuries, consult your physiotherapist before buying a pair.

Before buying a pair of toning shoes, make sure you know what your foot type is and choose accordingly.

If you go to the gym regularly, you should discuss your shoe concerns with your trainer.

It will take you a little time to adjust to the unstable sole of the shoe. Be patient.

Do you really need a pair of toning shoes? Only buy the pair that you are really sure of.

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