I've seen ads for several brands of toning shoes. Can these shoes make my legs more toned?
Answers from Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.
Despite the claims, there is no credible evidence that wearing toning shoes will make your legs more toned or cause you to burn extra calories. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission took action against one manufacturer for making deceptive claims about the benefits of toning shoes.
Toning shoes are designed to simulate walking barefoot or walking on an uneven surface.Manufacturers say the unstable design of the shoes forces wearers to use their leg muscles more — which burns more calories and tones the muscles.
However, researchers have found no evidence that wearing toning shoes leads to improved muscle tone or greater energy expenditure. In addition, there are no studies that prove that the shoes improve balance or stability to a great degree.
In addition, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has received numerous complaints about foot, leg and hip pain associated with these shoes. Thus, toning shoes aren't a good fit for anyone who has problems with their feet or legs or has balance issues.
Sep. 05, 2013
- Horsak B, et al. Effects of toning shoes on lower extremity gait biomechanics. Clinical Biomechanics. In press. Accessed May 1, 2013.
- Landry SC, et al. Standing in an unstable shoe increases postural sway and muscle activity of selected smaller extrinsic foot muscles. Gait Posture. 2010;32:215.
- Skechers will pay $40 million to settle FTC charges that it deceived consumers with ads for toning shoes. Federal Trade Commission. http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/05/consumerrefund.shtm. Accessed May 1, 2013.
- Are toning shoes unsafe? Reports of injuries raise concern. Consumer Reports. http://news.consumerreports.org/safety/2011/05/are-toning-shoes-unsafe-reports-of-injuries-raise-concern.html. Accessed May 1, 2013.
- Consumer Product Safety: New product complaint database. Consumer Product Safety Commission. http://www.saferproducts.gov. Accessed May 1, 2013.