Make my butt look smaller?
Answer: Nope.While most athletic shoes offer support and cushioning, the new muscle-activating shoes are engineered to create a sense of instability. Design elements like curved soles and Reebok’s “balance pods” are said to force the wearer to engage stabilizing muscles further, resulting in additional toning for calf, hamstring and gluteal muscles.
That sounds great, but do they really work? To support the claims, the shoemakers each offer company-financed exercise studies suggesting that the shoes produce a higher level of muscle engagement, at least in a controlled research setting.
But the studies don’t show whether more engagement leads to meaningful changes in muscle tone or appearance over time. Nor is it clear whether the high level of engagement continues once the walker becomes accustomed to the shoe.
Reebok’s EasyTone has made the biggest splash in the muscle-shoe market, especially with its advertising. In one commercial, the camera drifts away from the woman’s face and zooms in on her backside. Another advertisement claims that the leg and butt-toning effects of EasyTone will “make your boobs jealous.”
The advertisements, aimed at younger women, have appeared in magazines and online, and a big television campaign is under way: 3,000 commercial slots have been scheduled on network and cable in November and December.But the claim that the shoes offer muscle toning is backed by a single study involving just five people, not published in a peer-reviewed academic journal. In that study, done at the University of Delaware, five women walked on a treadmill for 500 steps wearing either the EasyTone or another Reebok walking shoe, and while barefoot. Using sensors that measure muscle activity, the researchers showed that wearing the EasyTone worked gluteal muscles an average of 28 percent more than regular walking shoes. Hamstring and calf muscles worked 11 percent harder. [More important news for body-conscious farmers]
Nevertheless, do they make a work boot?
Update: Here's the actual commercial.