Toning Shoes Hurt More Than They Help

The effectiveness of toning sneakers have already been widely met with skepticism by exercise physiologists, but now reports claim that not only are these shoes ineffective, they could also be hurting wearers.

The shoes have been popular, thanks in no small part to massive advertising campaigns from companies like Skechers and Easy Spirit. Last year, Americans spending more than $1 billion on toning shoes (up from about $360 million in 2009).

But reports of injuries have also been growing. Consumer Reports analyzed a database of complaints to, run by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and identified 36 reports associated with toning shoes since March 11. That's more than for any other single type of product in the database.

Most of the reported injuries were minor, including tenditis and foot, leg and hip pain, said Consumer Reports. But 15 of the reports were of broken bones, some requiring surgery.

The American Council on Exercise has said that there's no evidence to support the claims that the toning shoes help burn more calories or improve muscle strength. In fact, the group expressed concern that wearing those shoes regularly could change the walking gait mechanics of wearers.

Consumer Reports warns anyone with balance problems, a history of ankle instability or sprain, or those who suffer from neuropathy, back pain or arthritis, to pass on the toning shoes. And "even if you don't, we think you should wear them with caution, it says.

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