The commercials for a variety of toning shoes make it look so easy to get in shape.
Users say, "I'm toning my muscles, strengthening my core …" and claim they're, "Proven to tone your hamstrings …"
But, as more people buy them, Consumer Reports medical adviser Dr. Orly Avitzur is hearing more frequently about injuries.
He says, "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."
Doctor Joel Buchalter, an orthopedic surgeon, says that's no big surprise. He says toning shoes are intentionally designed to create instability.
Dr. Buchalter warns, "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."
But even younger people complain of problems, including the physician's assistant in Dr. Buchalter's office who bought some Skechers Shape-Ups.
Kara Lomardo says, "I was scrubbed in surgery, wore them for several hours. Had back pain for probably three or four days."
Skechers instructs people to wear the shoes for short periods of time at first to give the body time to adjust. As to 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."
Bottom line: the health benefit touted in the commercials is uncertain, but the risk of injury is very 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, some of them serious.
Just since March the C-P-S-C has received 35 complaints about toning shoes.
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