Point-Counterpoint: Can Toning Shoes Have A Legitimate Impact?

David Y.S. Yee, DPM, FACFAOM, and Eric Fuller, DPM

   5. Patient selection is essential to the success of prescribing rocker-sole shoes. Healthy, able-bodied adults, obese patients and patients experiencing plantar foot pains will benefit from the use of rocker-soled shoes. On the other hand, do not prescribe rocker-sole shoes to patients at risk for falls, patients with compromised balance and patients who are severely out of shape.6

In Conclusion

While more studies need to occur to establish the efficacy of rocker-sole shoes on exercise, they will become a fixture of every podiatric practice simply because the aggressive advertising campaigns of the manufacturers place them front and center in the minds of almost every patient entering our offices.

   Every podiatrist needs to have a basic understanding of the shoes’ effects on the human foot in order to take proper precautions and place shoes in an appropriate position in the treatment armamentarium.

   Dr. Yee is in private practice in Honolulu and is a member of the staff of Straub Clinic and Hospital in Honolulu. He is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Orthopedics and Medicine.

1. Skecher Shape Ups instructional DVD.
2. MBT physiologic shoegear instructional pamphlet.
3. American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine statement on toning shoes, 2011. Available at http://www.aapsm.org/toningshoes.html .
4. Cheskin M. The rocker sole revolution. Podiatr Manage. 2010; 29(8):89-96.
5. Porcari J, Greany J, Tepper S, Edmonson B, Foster C, Anders M. Will toning shoes really give you a better body? American Council on Exercise. 2010; 8:1-4.
6. Landry SC. Unstable shoe designs: functional implications. Lower Ext Rev. 2011; 3(3):31-36.
7. Landry SC, Nigg BM, Tecante KE. Standing in an unstable shoe increases postural sway and muscle activity of selected smaller extrinsic foot muscles. Gait Posture. 2010; 32(2):215-19.
8. Myers KA, Long JT, Klein JP, Wertsch JJ, Janisse D, Harris GF. Biomechanical implications of the negative heel rocker sole shoe: gait kinematics and kinetics. Gait Posture. 2006; 24(3):323-330.
9. Gasser BA, Stauber AM, et al. Does wearing shoes with unstable shoe construction stimulate metabolic activity in lower limbs? University of Bern Switzerland, 2008.
10. McCurdy B. Study says toning shoes don’t live up to the hype. Podiatry Today. 2010; 23(9):12.
11. Stewart L, Gibson JNA, Thomson CE. In-shoe pressure distribution in “unstable” (MBT) shoes and flat-bottomed training shoes: a comparative study. Gait Posture. 2007; 25(4):648-51.
12. Long JT, Klein JP, et al. Biomechanics of the double rocker sole shoe: gait kinematics and kinetics. Gait Posture. 2007; 40(3):2882-2890.
13. Kirby KA. The effect of shoe design parameters on foot function. March 1987. Foot and lower extremity biomechanics: a ten-year collection of Precision Intricast newsletters. Precision Intricast, Inc., Payson, AZ, 1997, pp. 87-89.
14. Praet SF, Louwerens JW. The influence of shoe design on plantar pressures in neuropathic feet. Diabetes Care. 2003; 26(2):441-5.
15. Brown D, Wertsch JJ, Harris GF, Klein J, Janisse D. Effect of rocker soles on plantar pressures. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2004; 85(1):81-86.
16. Foster JB. Forefoot plantar pressures respond to rocker bottom diabetic footwear. Lower Ext Rev. 2011; 3(5):11.
17. Can rocker sole shoes cause sciatica? Available at http://bit.ly/v3dsC4 .
18. Skechers Shape-Ups shoes blamed for hip injuries/Injury Board Kansas City. Available at http://bit.ly/rERLEc .
19. Busman P. Letters to the editor: rocker bottoms. Podiatr Manage. 2011; 30(5):30.
20. Root ML, Orien WP, Weed JN. Normal and abnormal function of the foot, vol. II. Clinical Biomechanics Corp., Los Angeles, 1977, p. 38.

   For further reading, see “Key Principles To Evaluating Athletic Footwear” in the September 2010 issue of Podiatry Today.

Add new comment