Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Rocker" Shoes Put to the Test...Do They Really Promote Weight Loss?

I've been waiting a long time for this...USA Today recently published an article on "Rocker" shoes. These are the shoes you've seen everywhere lately that have a large sole and claim to promote weight loss, strengthen muscles, and improve posture. I had my doubts when I first saw them advertised and thought they looked like a stylish orthopedic shoe. Turns out, I was right. According to the article, "in the past they were sold as therapeutic footwear for people with medical problems, including arthritis in their feet."

How does it work? The heavily cushioned rocker sole forces wearers to work harder to maintain balance and stand erect, engaging muscles that are otherwise less active. More active muscles burn more calories. The shoes also enforce a rolling heel-to-toe gait that makers say simulates walking barefoot in the sand.

Can anyone wear them? The shoes might help people who stand for long hours or need to improve posture. However, they do limit normal motion in the foot. So you may be under-using some muscles and overusing others. Also, shoes that require good balance might make some people fall.

What do the experts say? So far, the only two published studies are by MBT and Skechers, two companies that sell the rocker shoe, and even their findings are mixed. An exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise (my certifying body, also called ACE), says, "Any added effect on weight or muscle tone may be negligible. If you are walking, you are walking."

You can read more on this topic at

It's a quick read and then you can decide for yourself if you think it's a wise investment. I believe everyone is going to have different results depending on personal fitness levels. However, know that this is not a shoe to wear to a fitness class or in inclement weather. (Read the author's notes on her own self-conducted study regarding walking downhill).

If you have bought these shoes, please let me and the Body by Kelly community know by commenting on this post below. Let us know your results. Or, if you've had a particularly good or bad experience with any workout shoe, I encourage you to post that too.


rebecca said...

I've had a couple of pairs of MBTs, and I no longer wear them. I broke my ankle walking in them about a year ago. I stepped onto some uneven ground, and because of the instability of the rocker soles & their thickness, my ankle turned and it broke. Suffice it to say that any postural benefits were negated many times over by the 12 weeks I spent on crutches. Never again.

Anonymous said...

Here's a link to an article that says the muscle soreness is due to it being a different type of shoe and that your body will get used to it. The soreness, however, does not mean toned muscles!