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Can you really walk your way to a better butt?

May 7, 2010

That’s the claim for both Sketchers’ Shape Ups and Reebok’s Easy Tone sneakers.  Their claim lies in the shoes’ designs, which creates an unstable walking pattern that forces leg muscles to work harder.

“There’s a fair amount of biomechanical related research that has been conducted on unstable rocker soled shoes,” said Kendrick Whitney, a professor of podiatric medicine at Temple University, and director of the pedorthics program.  He cites research which shows that unstable shoes like these have led to better muscle strengthening than a leg workout at the gym.

He added that these shoes may have other benefits as well – research conducted by the Human Performance Laboratory in Canada found that the instability of these shoes can help to reduce pain and osteoarthritic changes and could also improve back pain by improving posture.

Whitney cites the MBT shoe, a rocker-bottomed shoe, as the gold standard of these unstable types of shoes.

“It leads the pack in research, quality and stressing the importance of appropriate training with a gradual break-in during initial wearing of their shoes,” he said.  “But, I worry that as this fad gains popularity, it will also lead to shortcuts in quality, fitting and lack of gait training.”

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