Food Coach

Toning shoes: toning unclear, injury risk real

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

TV commercials for pricey toning shoes promise you'll get in shape fast just by walking in them. Toning shoe sales totaled more than $1 billion last year, about three times more than the year before. Consumer Reports released important information about those claims.

The commercials for a variety of toning shoes make it look so easy to get in shape.

But, as more people buy them, Consumer Reports medical adviser Dr. Orly Avitzur is hearing more frequently about injuries.

"One patient was breaking in a pair of toning sneakers, and less than 45 minutes after putting them on, felt her ankle turn and a bone break," said Avitzur.

Dr. Joel Buchalter, an orthopedic surgeon, says that's no big surprise. He says toning shoes are intentionally designed to create instability.

"If you take a patient who is elderly or someone who has a balance issue and you put that shoe on them you're looking for disaster," said Buchalter.

But even younger people complain of problems, including the physician's assistant in Buchalter's office who bought some Skechers Shape-Ups.

"I was scrubbed in surgery, wore them for several hours. Had back pain for probably three or four days," said physician's assistant Kara Lombardo.

Skechers instructs people to wear the shoes for short periods of time at first to give the body time to adjust. As for the health benefits? The company says two studies it sponsored show improvement in fitness.

But Avitzur says another study tells a different story.

"An independent study by the American Council on Exercise found no significant difference between exercising in toning sneakers as compared to regular sneakers," said Avitzur.

Bottom line: the health benefit touted in the commercials is uncertain, but the risk of injury is very real. Consumer Reports Health says if you have any balance or medical problems in your legs and feet, avoid toning shoes

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health, exercise, food coach, lori corbin
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