Since their release in 2009, the so-called “toning shoes” quickly became a fad. With compelling claims such as burn more calories while performing daily activities, or tone your buttocks and thighs by simply walking, these shoes seemed to be an amazing fitness solution.

These claims are based on their innovative design. “Toning shoes” generally present an unstable sole that is supposed to challenge your balance, forcing you to use additional muscles to stabilize the body when wearing them. This extra challenge would supposedly make you burn more calories and make your leg muscles work harder.

However, a study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) could not find any evidence that these shoes can make you exercise harder, burn more calories, or improve your muscle strength and tone. The conclusion was that they are no better than regular running shoes[1].

Actually, because of their distinct sole design, “toning shoes” change your gait, placing stress on joints and tendons that might not be able to handle it well.  The abuse of this particular type of footwear could lead to overuse injuries such as sprains, tendinitis, and shin splints[2]. Experts point out that these shoes should be treated as fitness products and be used only for the activities indicated by the manufacturers. Also, keep in mind that these shoes are not for everyone. The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine warns that the unstable design may increase the risk of falls. So if you have history of falls, ankle instability, vertigo, or poor balance, you are probably not a good candidate to wear these shoes[3].

Apparently, the number of complaints against these shoes is increasing, according to “The Consumer Reports.” The Consumer Product Safety Commission has received several complaints that suggest that toning shoes may cause injuries.

So before you purchase this type of footwear, be sure you are able to deal with the instability. Also, use the shoes as the manufacturer specifies; many of those are designed for walking, not running or lifting weights. Remember that your safety depends on you.

As expected, “toning shoes” are far away from being a quick and easy fitness solution. However, if you bought a pair and feel motivated to exercise just by looking at your new gadget, go ahead and enjoy it. Just don’t think that you are getting more bang for your buck because of them.


Sprains – Traumatic injury to ligaments around a joint.

Tendinitis – Inflammation of a tendon (fibrous tissue that connects muscles to bones). Also spelled tendonitis.

Shin splints – Sharp pain in the front part of lower leg.


[1] “Will Toning Shoes Really Give You A Better Body?” Available at

[2] “Five Essential Steps to Choosing Toning Footwear.” Available at

[3] “Toning Shoes.” Available at