Toning Shoes – Do They Really Work?

by | Aug 11, 2010 | Exercise and Fitness, Foot Care & Foot Fitness, Health, Links to Interesting Articles | 1 comment

Do Specialized Shoes Like MBT’s and Sketchers Shape Ups Really Help Tone your Legs and Give You a Better Workout?

The American Council on Exercise, ACE Fitness research results are in on the benefits of “Toning Shoes” MBT’s, Sketchers Shape Ups and Reebok Easytone Shoes compared to a regular pair of running shoes.

This question about the difference between toning shoes vs. a regular pair of running or walking shoes always comes up when I teach my Fantastic Feet Workshop!

Everybody’s looking for the best option to get the most bang for their buck for a workout. But lots of bucks it takes to buy these fancy “toning” shoes! Is the cost for the claims of burning more calories, solving joint pain, working your hamstrings, butt and calves harder really worth it?

According to the ACE study – there is no statistically significant increases or evidence to support the advertising claims. A regular pair of tennis shoes can provide the same benefits as your MBT’s or other Shape-Up shoes, based on the ACE research study which measured fitness and wellness benefits.

Do I own a pair of Toning Shoes – YES. Do I wear them often – NO.

Why did I buy them? Because I had so many clients asking if they should buy a pair that I wanted to experience what it felt like to wear them so I could give a more educated opinion on what these shoes felt like during a workout and how they affected my gait and stride.

What’s my opinion?
Since so many people are running around in flip-flops and other strapless or backless shoes – in general, for most of the population – stride length has been compromised. If you watch people walk, the legs swing more to the front of the body than behind the body. (We’ve made this adaptation to keep our flip-flops from falling off our feet!) Because of this the hips, hamstrings, and glutes don’t get a chance to work like they should because the legs are never in extension (behind the body) far enough for these muscles to fire.

Our strength to propel the body forward when we walk and run comes from the back of the legs – hamstrings, glutes, ankle and foot. Without a long enough stride, hip, knee, and ankle mechanics are compromised. And if you take a look at most of the cardio equipment on the market (with the exception of a treadmill) the stride/swing for the legs is primarily to the front of the body which continues to enhance the imbalance that has been created by our poor shoe choices and shortened stride!

So accepting by the research that you’re not going to burn more calories, or work harder by wearing toning shoes what might be the value of wearing toning shoes for a workout? For me, the rocker-bottom helps free up the swing of the leg and makes it a bit easier to increase stride length to feel what I should be doing all day long (in any pair of shoes) to get the legs behind the body for better stride length.

I wear my MBT’s every once in a blue moon! The rest of the time I prefer to focus my attention on making my body do things right (rather than rely on my shoes to do the work.)

What Do YOU Think About Toning Shoes?

  • Do you own a pair of toning shoes?
  • Why did you buy them?
  • How much do you wear them?
  • What’s your overall opinion of toning shoes?

If you want to read the research, click here for the ACE Fitness article.

Aliesa George: Over the past three decades, Aliesa George has helped assist people with their personal health journeys by sharing, teaching, and developing Pilates, Foot Fitness, and other Mind-Body programs.

1 Comment

  1. Toning Shoes

    Please look at for scientific studies on the effectiveness of toning shoes and rocker bottom shoes. The site includes peer-reviewed studies published in journals.


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