I came across an article in the Vancouver Sun Health Section yesterday titled “Shoes your butt will love” and sadly the article was promoting the benefits of toning sneakers, more specifically Reebok Easy Tone. The name of the shoe itself should be a warning light, easy and tone do not belong together, it takes hard work and tension in your body to create tone. The name of this shoe is just another way marketing perpetrates the myth that it is EASY to get into shape and marketing gurus use the idea that individuals are looking for a quick way to solve their health and fitness issues when this is simply not the case for a majority of the population.
The article states that the shoes “force you to engage your glutes, thighs and calves while providing a comfortable, shock-absorbing padding for your foot and knee” and “increases engagement of the abdominal muscles.” These statements were backed up with the following numbers from a Physical Therapist “because the shoes cause that slight instability they can increase muscle activation BY UP TO (bolded by me) 14% in your calves, 29% in your quads and 16 to 28% in your glutes and hamstrings.” I thought these were pretty impressive statements so I wanted to find out more about these shoes. I did a quick search to find out if any of these claims were backed by a published peer-reviewed academic journal article and I found nothing. What I did find was a great article in the New York times that reviewed these vary same shoes http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/health/08well.html and within the article I found some great information that I would like to share.
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.
After finding the above statement I stopped my search for credible research. Further along in the NY Time article I found the following…
The shoes are designed only for walking, and because of the instability design, wearers are discouraged from running, jumping and engaging in other athletic activities while wearing them. So the real effect may come from simple awareness that they are wearing a muscle-activating shoe, causing them to walk more briskly and with purpose.
NOTE: I visited the Reebok website to find out more information about the shoe and I found a collection of exercises that involves all of the discouraged uses of the shoes. Again look out for marketing, the road to health and fitness is not found through a quick fix.
So there is the answer, by simply wearing these shoes a person is more likely to walk more briskly and with purpose. Any movement done with conscientious and deliberate thought including washing dishes, chopping vegetables, swinging Kettlebells, lifting weights, and walking briskly will cause an increase in muscle activation of the muscles required to perform the movement. By simply thinking of a movement your nervous system activates your brain to run the motor program necessary for creating the movement, thus preparing your muscles to move. So if you want to get better muscles activation when exercising and moving you don’t need any gimmick all you need is your thoughts!
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about conscious movement and personal training.
Move to Live, Live to Move,
Josh Neumann, BHK, PTS, TSCC-1
Monday and Thursday #FitTip at www.twitter.com/stayfitanywhere