I've seen ads for several brands of toning shoes. Can these shoes make my legs more toned?
Answer 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 misleading claims about the benefits of toning shoes.
Toning shoes are designed to mimic walking barefoot or walking on an uneven surface. Manufacturers claim the unstable design of the shoes forces wearers to use their leg muscles more, burning more calories and toning muscles.
However, researchers haven't found evidence that wearing toning shoes leads to improved muscle tone or greater energy use. Also, no studies have proved that the shoes improve balance or stability to a great degree.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has also received many complaints about foot, leg and hip pain associated with these shoes. So, toning shoes aren't a good fit for anyone who has problems with their feet or legs or who has balance issues.
April 17, 2019
- Horsak B, et al. Effects of toning shoes on lower extremity gait biomechanics. Clinical Biomechanics. 2013;28:344.
- 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 June 20, 2016.
- Are toning shoes unsafe? Reports of injuries raise concern. Consumer Reports. https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2011/05/are-toning-shoes-unsafe-reports-of-injuries-raise-concern/index.htm. Accessed June 20, 2016.
- Consumer Product Safety: New product complaint database. Consumer Product Safety Commission. http://www.saferproducts.gov. Accessed June 20, 2016.
- Horsak B, et al. Muscle co-contraction around the knee when walking with unstable shoes. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology. 2015;25:175.