Consumer Reports Investigates Claims Of Injury From Toning Shoes

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — You’ve no doubt seen the commercials for shoes that promise to get you in shape fast, just by walking in them. Sales of toning shoes totaled more than a billion dollars last year – that’s about three times the year before.

But are they doing more harm than good? Consumer Reports Health recently looked into claims that the shoes are causing serious injuries.

The commercials for a variety of toning shoes make it look so easy to get in shape. However, as more people buy them, Consumer Reports’ medical adviser Dr. Orly Avitzur is hearing more frequently about injuries.

“One patient was breaking in a pair of toning sneakers, and less than 45 minutes after putting them on felt her ankle turn and a bone break,” said Dr. Avitzur.

Dr. Joel Buchalter, an orthopedic surgeon, says that’s no big surprise. He says toning shoes are intentionally designed to create instability.

“If you take a patient who is elderly or someone who has a balance issue and you put that shoe on them, you’re looking for disaster,” said Dr. Buchalter.

But even younger people complain of problems, including the physician’s assistant in Dr. Buchalter’s office who bought some Skechers Shape-Ups.

“I was scrubbed in surgery, wore them for several hours, had back pain for probably three or four days,” said Kara Lombardo.

Skechers instructs people to wear the shoes for short periods of time at first to give the body time to adjust.

As for the health benefits? The company says two studies it sponsored show improvement in fitness.

But Dr. Avitzur says another study tells a different story.

“An independent study by the American Council on Exercise found no significant difference between exercising in toning sneakers as compared to regular sneakers,” Dr. Avitzur said.

The bottom line is that the health benefit touted in the commercials is uncertain, but the risk of injury is real.

Consumer Reports Health says if you have any balance or medical problems in your legs and feet, avoid toning shoes altogether.

New injury statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission show that even younger people in good physical shape have had problems with toning shoes, some of them serious.

Just since March, the CPSC has received 36 complaints about the shoes.

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  • susan rausch

    I own two pair of shape-ups and so does my husband and I suffer from vertigo and am 59 years old and my husband is 61 years and has heal spurs and those shoes help him and I hve no problems with the shoes.

  • M. Free

    I also own two pair of these shoes and they have helped my knees. I will say that mine are not Sketchers – I found Sketchers to be high and unstable but not Dr. Shoell’s and my orthopedic physician looked at these and is pleased with the results I’ve had. They are the only shoes I wear.

  • Jeanie

    I own two pairs of generic skechers from Pay Less and I can say I have nothing but positive results. I have compressed discs in my neck and since I wear them while walking I have no shouler and back pain and my feet are never tired and sore no matter how much I walk .I am 64 years old and they are all I wear.

  • Joanne

    I own a pair of Curves from Avon and I’ve had nothing but positive results from these shoes. I use them to walk. They are after all WALKING shoes.They can be difficult to stand in. I don’t recommend it for too long….under an hour, I’d say. I am 53 years old and I’ve lost 50 pounds. These shoes made it possible because they have helped my knees while I walk. All the extra weight is tough on the knees. They also firmed and lifted everything else too…if you know what I mean. I look and feel TWENTY years younger and I’m not even done…I still have 50 pounds to go. My daughter who is a 24 year old server (waitress) also bought a pair of Skechers to work in. She got them last fall and already she’s buff compared to waify before. She loves them and tells everyone about them. I’ve even been told that in Europe they’ve been making them in workshoes for men. I sure hope the trend catches on and America gets fit with something so enjoyable. Yes, they make walking fun again.
    I’d suggest that if someone broke their ankle due to the shoes that something else is going on there. Don’t brand them bad cause of that.

  • psychrn

    I have not one but two pairs of Avia aivmotion shoes. I don’t know about toning up but personally my legs and back feel great. I think most Americans are easily mislead by the get in shape easy fad and need to remember that working out and proper diet are the main things you need. The shoes just make it much more enjoyable in doing so. I work as a RN and wear the toning shoes when I work which many times are 12 or voluntary 16hr shifts. The shoes just make my legs back and calves feel so much better. I have two pairs…one for work and one for home/exercise/bike trail. Mine are made to be jogged in/running in. Maybe they aren’t for everyone but I have had no issues.

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