Toning shoes are athletic shoes that have a so-called "rocker bottom," which is marketed as forcing the wearer's leg muscles to work harder during normal activities, thereby improving muscle tone. The shoes are designed to be somewhat unstable, changing how the wearer walks. Marketing for the shoes advertised that they would tone up the wearer's legs, promote weight loss, improve the wearer's posture and reduce the stress on the wearer's joints.
Critics of the shoes argue that there is no proven benefit to wearing the shoes over wearing regular athletic shoes while exercising. A study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) reportedly showed that wearers of the shoes showed no significant benefits in muscle activation when wearers wore the shoes while exercising.
The Federal Trade Commission even got involved, filing a lawsuit against Reebok over its claims that its toning shoes would strengthen calf and hamstring muscles by 11 percent. Reebok settled the lawsuit for $25 million without admitting wrongdoing. Money from the settlement will go to refunding customers.
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Furthermore, because the shoes are inherently unstable, the wearer runs the risk of suffering injury from a fall. Injuries sustained as a result of falls from the toning shoes, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, include broken bones.