We see them everywhere. Sketchers, Reebok and New Balance make them. The athletic shoes with the rounded soles that promise to help us burn more calories and build stronger butt muscles. Several celebrities are saying that they work for them. The shoes cost $60-120 depending on the brand. Are they worth the investment? Do they help people lose weight?
First of all, the research behind these companies claims that their shoes burn more calories and strengthen muscles is very limited and the studies were sponsored by the manufacturers, which makes us question their results. It’s interesting to also note that most people do not walk properly in these types of shoes (they avoid striking their heel on the ground), which minimizes the addition “muscle activation” that the ads claim will occur without stepping in the gym!
Second, many patients find that the rocker action of the shoe can either flare up an existing ankle, leg or low back problem or create one as they try to walk on the unstable surface. The reason that these shoes can increase injuries is because the rocker shape of the shoe forces your ankle to dorsiflex (the tilting of your foot back towards your body — like doing a calf stretch) more than a normal shoe. The majority of adults have a lack of dorsiflexion in their ankles due to old sprains, injuries and tight muscles. When they walk in this shoe, it forces them to move in a direction that they cannot easy do — creating stress on the achilles tendon and calf muscles.
To compensate for this lack of mobility, most people will start walking more on their forefoot or toes, throwing off the alignment of the legs, hips and low back. The end result is tendonitis in the ankle/calf, knee, hip or low back pain after wearing the shoes for several weeks. Because most people wear these shoes all the time, they don’t even realize that their shoes are the culprit, causing their pain.
My advice is to save your $100 for a good pair of running shoes that are fitted to your foot/arch and skip the hype/injuries associated with these fad shoes. Besides they look a little silly, don’t they?
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