Toning shoes are those shoes promoted on late night television by celebrities that make a lot of claims that come from the benefits of using these shoes to a get an additional ‘tone up’ when using them. They are claimed to achieve this by having a design that make the shoes unstable which creates an environment that the muscles need to work harder to counter the unstable design of the shoes. This extra effort is claimed to be responsible for the ‘tone up’. There is certainly debate as to if they actually achieve that and two companies have been forced by the Federal trade Commission to give refunds due to the lack of evidence for the hyped promises that they were making for the shoes. The shoes do seem to have some benefits for some people with some problems.
What about kids? One company has been heavily marketing toning shoes to girls and this is not without controversy, especially with the issues of body image awareness and the promotion of the shoes to give a ‘tone up’. There is no research or evidence to support or not support the use of toning shoes in kids. The feet of kids really need to be left to grow and develop as naturally as possible with no interference from shoes of any kind. Kids do need shoes, but they should not interfere with normal development. If toning shoes are to be used in kids, then they should only be used for very short periods to vary the gait and muscle activity to mix it up.