Fitness shoes have become very popular, and ads for them are popping up all over the place. The ads claim that the shoes will tone and sculpt your legs, thighs and butt, strengthen your core muscles, and improve your posture without additional workouts. The shoes are quite pricey, so it may be hard for you to decide whether or not you should invest in them. Here is some information that may help you with your decision.
How Do Fitness Shoes Work?
Fitness shoes have a negative heel, which means that the heel is lower than the toes. This forces the foot to rock from heel to toe while walking, and therefore working muscle groups around the ankles. The design of the shoes causes you to be slightly off-balance as you walk, thus engaging more muscles. For some designs, the effect is similar to walking barefoot in sand. The extra tension helps to tone muscles and burn more calories.
The Benefits of Fitness Shoes
Fitness shoes can be a great exercise tool for walkers. The imbalance created by the shoes does help to work several muscle groups, and posture is improved. Several styles and brands are available, so you are sure to find something that fits your wardrobe needs. Their design makes them very comfortable for most feet. Some people that suffer from knee pain caused by osteoarthritis or certain types of back pain may benefit from the imbalance caused by the negative heel. Fitness shoe advocates claim that the high comfort level of the shoes encourages them to want to walk more, which improves their overall well-being and health.
Things to Consider
The imbalance caused by the shoes may cause difficulties for those that already have issues with balance. It may also cause pain for people that have lower back problems. The walking shoes are not designed for running, but new shoes are available that are made for runners. Fitness shoes are best used on flat surfaces, because they can cause stumbling and missteps on rocky or uneven terrain. The shoes may cause pain for those that suffer from Achilles' tendon or that have a tight heel cord.
The Bottom Line
If you decide to try fitness shoes, stretch regularly before walking in them to increase your flexibility. If you suffer from foot problems, talk to your doctor before trying fitness shoes, as they may aggravate the problem. The shoes may, however, improve certain back and knee pains. It takes some adjustment to learn how to walk again when wearing fitness shoes, but it may be well worth the effort for certain people.
If you like to walk for exercise, and you regularly walk on smooth surfaces, then give the shoes a try. If you prefer running or hiking, fitness shoes may not be the best match. You won't see a difference overnight after wearing fitness shoes, but subtle improvements may come with time, depending on how often you wear them.