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Can shoes really shape you up?

July 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
"I can definitely feel it on my calves when I'm walking, which is great," said Ivonne Sanchez, who hopes the benefits of Reebok's new EasyTone athletic shoes will work their wonders. Like other "body sculpting" shoes on the market, the EasyTones suggest women burn more energy in key areas like their buns and thighs.Often touted as the anti-cellulite shoe, the MBT's came out about 4 years ago. Sketchers also launched their Shape Ups this past December.

All the shoe companies commissioned studies in which research indicated a shoe's intentional instability forces the body to work harder. The body then recruits and strengthens small support muscles, as well as targeting the backside.

"28 percent more muscle activity in the gluteus maximus, or butt; 11 percent in the thigh and hamstring area; and 11 percent in down in your calves as well," said Bill McInnis, the creator of the Reebok EasyTone.

McInnis claims the pods on the bottom of the shoe act like mini balance balls, similar to the stability balls you see at the gym.

"Out of all of them I like the Reebok the best because it looks and it functions more like a regular shoe than these shoes do," said Podiatrist Dr. Benjamin Nikravesh.

Dr. Nikravesh takes issue with the 'step and roll' concept of other wide-bottom, heavy and oversized shoes.

"I don't see very many indications for what we call a rocker-bottom shoe, medically, for a normal healthy adult," said Dr. Nikravesh.

He feels there is a chance for injury when doing activities other than walking, which is the intended use for the shoes. The rocker-bottom shoe is typically used for the elderly and for people with specific conditions like injuries or arthritis; to increase pressure in some areas and alleviate it in others.

"It's a very narrow spectrum of patients who could benefit from this shoe, medically," said Dr. Nikravesh.

Another consideration is the price of the shaping shoes. They range from $99 to over $200. So keep in mind, these shoes were designed just for walking. If you run, take exercise classes, or play sports, you will need a different pair of shoes.

For more questions about foot issues, you may contact Dr. Benjamin Nikravesh at (323)782-8586.

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