Are Balance Shoes Worth It?
Keith Garrison is a physical therapist at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz.
Question. Are the balance shoes that are currently on commercials worth the hype?
Answer: Shoes claiming to tone your tush, sculpt your stomach and poise your posture are a little over-the-top, but they can have more benefit than your traditional sneaker.
The key word with this new shoe is “balance” and the focused exercise is step, repeat. The curved toe and heel shape of the sneaker force your body to feel constantly off balance, increasing muscle activity.
Many people with ankle, knee, back or joint problems are drawn to the balance shoe for added comfort and boost in exercise. The thick sole of the shape-up shoe provides a layer of impact absorbency that makes walking kinder on your knees and joints.
People with perfectly healthy joints are wearing these shoes for extra support and to help prevent future joint issues.
Balance shoes are specifically designed to be walked in, but understand that they are meant to cause the body to work harder to maintain balance. Therefore, if you have any issues with balance or stability, these shoes can increase the risk of loss of balance and possible injury.
These shoes are not designed to be worn while running, hiking or jogging. They do not have supplemental ankle support, the extra sole padding is heavy, and they significantly increase the risk of falling, twisting, or breaking an ankle on uneven terrain.
They are designed for walking, and walking only. The main thing to remember is that exercise is the most important aspect to your life. Whatever product or equipment helps you get up and get going is a good thing. Just remember to use them in moderation, begin slowly and build a tolerance to any shoe to avoid injury.
Reviewed August 2010