Toning Shoes, Are They For You?

By on October 11, 2011

By Alice Burron –

Are you struggling to find the time to increase your physical fitness with your hectic lifestyle? Like you, many people are looking for easy ways to get fit, and toning shoes seems like a reasonable answer—do what you normally do with these shoes on and get in shape—how easy is that?

Toning shoes, also called balance shoes, have zoomed up to a full-fledged active footwear category that is still growing. Almost every shoe brand has jumped on board, and it currently is the fastest-growing segment in the footwear industry, with sales expected to be in the billions this year alone.

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Manufacturers state that these shoes help you burn more calories, reduce joint stress and improve posture. Some shoes tie in other features to add an extra challenge such as a midsole material that simulates the feel of walking in sand, extra weight in the front of the shoe, and pods of air in the midsole.

But are these shoes all that? 

Toning shoes offer a promise for quick and easy fitness. The American Council on Exercise conducted a study to see if toning shoes kept the promise they made to consumers. Findings revealed that toning shoes are not the magic solution to fitness, and do not offer any exceptional benefits that people can’t obtain with regular athletic shoes.

Also, podiatrists are reporting more injuries from people who wear toning shoes for long periods of time or in unsafe environments. Since toning shoes disrupt normal foot motion, there are often complaints of tightness in the heel, calf, and Achilles tendon. And since the shoe is not made to accommodate for side motion, injuries often result when someone moves out of the forward/backward plane quickly, such as when tripping, playing in ball sports or walking on uneven surfaces.

Should you invest in toning shoes? At $100 or more a pair, they truly are an investment. If these shoes can motivate you to get active, then go for it—buy a pair. There are dozens to choose from, but one brand you won’t see is Nike. They claim they won’t compromise on flexibility or stability, and it sounds as if you won’t see a toning shoe from them any time soon.

If you like the idea of an unconventional training shoe, you may want to read Christopher McDougall’s bestselling book “Born to Run”. His opinion is that the closer you are to barefoot, the better, since shoes interrupt the natural workings of the muscles of the foot and ankle. As a result, those muscles atrophy, which then results in foot and ankle instability. Not many people can get away with going barefoot at work, however, so perhaps a toning shoe might just be the ticket.

Alice Burron earned a master’s in physical education with an emphasis in exercise physiology from the University of Wyoming. She is an affiliate spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and is an ACE certified personal trainer and certified Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant. Her first book, Four Weeks to Fabulous, is aimed at helping the busy person lose weight using sound nutrition, weight control and exercise principles that are proven successful. Visit her on her website at

About Alice Burron

Alice Burron, one of the co-authors of the “Stress As Trigger, Your Body As Target” book, is a life-long student of health and wellness. Her experience includes worksite wellness, wellness coaching, personal training, writing, speaking and community wellness initiatives. She can be contacted at [email protected] The book can be purchased at

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Toning Shoes, Are They For You?