How would you like to be able to tone your legs and trim your butt without ever setting foot in the gym? It sounds too good to be true – but there are now a whole range of shoes from a variety of different manufacturers which claim to be able to help you do exactly that. They come in a range of colors and styles – some of them look nothing like exercise shoes at all and are very fashionable.
The general approach seems to be to replicate the mechanics of walking barefoot on soft ground – like sand or lush grass for example. Most of these new high tech fitness shoes achieve this by the use of specially designed soles. Use of the correct density of materials in the construction of the shoes also seems to be an important factor.
Masai Barefoot Technology Shoes (MBTs)
These are probably the forerunner of the current range of shoes on the market. Strictly speaking, they aren’t fitness shoes at all. They were developed by a Swiss engineer called Karl Muller. Walking barefoot across a rice field in Korea one day, he noticed that his back pain, an ongoing problem for him, was less troublesome than usual.
He investigated a little further and, after some research, discovered that the Masai are well known for their good posture and have a much lower incidence rate of lower back pain than western societies. He specifically designed the MBT range of shoes in such a way as to produce a rolling motion when your foot comes into contact with the ground. Users certainly seem happy with he benefits.
Fitflops Sandals, Boots And Shoes
The Fitflops range of exercise footwear was developed in the UK by ex-personal fitness trainer Marcia Kilgore. These also feature a curved sole to mimic walking on soft ground in bare feet and incorporate something called “microwobbleboard” technology. Testing at London South Bank University and Salford University in the UK has shown that the lower body muscles are engaged for longer when walking in Fitflops, in comparison with standard shoes. According to the company website, Fit flops are the sandal with the gym built in. They tone your lower body as you walk around during the course of your daily routine.
Of the different specially designed exercise shoes available, Fitflops are probably the least like fitness footwear. Their range includes sandals in a wide selection of colors and styles and slippers, clogs and boots have now been introduced. Additional to the independent testing, anecdotal feedback from Fitflops wearers suggests that a wide variety of different benefits are available as a result of wearing these shoes. Improved posture, reduced cellulite and reduced heel spur pain are amongst the various benefits cited. Conventional flip flop type sandals can actually be a source of significant foot problems. Fitflops however, are approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).
Skechers Shape Ups
Skechers Shape Ups shoes also incorporate a curved sole which uses specially selected materials in its construction. Again the idea is to reproduce the effect of walking barefoot on soft sand. Studies in the USA and Japan have concluded that wearing Shape Ups while you walk can provide a number of benefits to wearers.
Reeboks Easy Tones
The Reebok contribution to the latest trend in fitness shoes is the most recent addition to the market. These do not use curved soles like the other shoes discussed so far but have air filled balance pods incorporated into the soles. These generate “natural instability” when you wear them and this makes your muscles work harder as they try to readjust to compensate for the instability.
Once again, there have been a number of independent tests which seem to concur with the claims that walking in this type of shoe encourages the lower body muscles to work a little harder. There are also any number of rave reviews from actual users, both on the company website and in other locations.
Intuitively, it’s just about possible to imagine how shoes that reproduce the effect of walking in soft sand might make your muscles perform some additional work. It’s probably also reasonable to assume that, if you’re trying to regain your balance on a constant basis, then that might make your muscles work a little bit harder. It’s definitely a very appealing notion – walking around as you would normally do and getting a free lower body workout. It might be worth a try. There are so many of these wonder shoes on the market right now – and they cost no more than ordinary fitness shoes – that you could probably get a pair that you liked the next time you need new shoes anyway.