Thursday, July 8, 2010

Do Sketchers' Shape-Ups Really Shape-Up?

If you are anything like me, you sat riveted to your couch, in awe that there was a shoe that could tone your thighs, calves, and most importantly, rear end. Sketchers Shape-Up sneakers are the first in a new wave of toning shoes which promise that they will make you healthier and more fit. But do they truly fulfill that promise?
The Sketchers Shape-Up commercial claims that they will make you healthier, more fit, and even happier without ever stepping into a gym. Shape-Ups were designed to help you burn more calories, improve your circulation, reduce the impact on your joints and lower back, and stengthen muscles in your lower extremities as well as improve your posture. You can wear them to work, to school, out on your daily errands, or in your everyday life. Their Kinetic Wave Technology has memory foam like materials and the wedge shape helps you properly roll through your foot from heel to toe. This shape is supposed to simulate you walking on sand and again, reduce the impact on your joints. Before embarking on a serious work-out, Sketchers has even created four stretches and warm-ups, including the kick-back, the rock and roll, roll and rock and roll, and finally the lean.

Shape-Ups come in a variety of styles, colors, and levels of fitness training. On, the price of the sneakers starts at $110, but at, the price is slightly lower at $99.95 per pair.

Besides being cost-prohibitive for many people, people with uneven feet or problems balancing need to particularly careful when wearing these shoes. Those with tight posterior calf muscles or Achilles tendons may not do well with toning shoes due to the increased strain on those muscles. Dr. Kathleen Stone, president of the American Podiatric Medical Association reminds patients that these shoes are not a cure-all for for the entire body. "Toning shoes should be utilized similar to any other piece of athletic training equipment." Toning footwear is designed to target different muscles than those that are used in traditional walking and running shoes. Stone recommends a gradual break-in period of toning shoes, starting at 45 minutes to begin with.

When considering purchasing these shoes and wearing them as part of an exercise regime you should always:

1. Break the shoes in. The shoes are built differently than your average sneaker, and will require you time to get use to how not only the shoe moves, but you in it.

2. Look for the APMA Seal. Not all toning shoes have received the APMA Seal of Acceptance, and Sketchers Shape-Up fall into that category. Reebok's Easy Tone, as well as shoes by Grasshoppers, Avia, and Ryka have all received the Seal.

3. Find the proper shoe for you. Not all styles and brands are going to be correct for your foot shape, lifestyle, and natural gait. The shoe should fit you comfortably and you should, once you have broken the shoe in, be able to walk normally.

4. Stretch before using the shoes to exercise. You do not have to use the previously mentioned exercises from Sketchers, but warming up beforehand is a must in any physical activity.

5. Know that claims made on commercials and testimonials are not always true and people are paid for endorsements and promotions. Do not believe that a shoe is going to make you happier; instead believe that a healthier lifestyle with proper exercise will make you happier.

Dr. Tina A. Boucher, DPM
Central Connecticut Foot Care, LLC
Meriden CT Podiatrist
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