Aug 24, 2010

The New Butt-Firming Shoes: Do They Work?

Squats. When it comes to analyzing the pros and cons of the new butt-firming shoes, probably the real villain here is everyone’s powerful dislike of squats. After all, if we liked doing squats, who’d need the shoes? Everybody wants a glorious butt; no one wants to earn it the old-fashioned way.

So, can a specially designed shoe reward you with an impressive tush? As a podiatrist, I’ve had several patients recently ask me about the virtues of the new line of athletic shoes that are specifically designed to tone leg and buttock muscles. Sorry, but the short answer is “No.” In fact, the potential injuries stemming from these shoes can range from inflamed Achilles tendons to broken ankles.

Here’s the important thing to understand about the design of these new butt-firming shoes: The principle is to throw you off-balance. It is your body’s struggle to regain its balance that gives the illusion that the shoes are “working” your muscles.

This isn’t exercise, it’s your body in crisis-management mode.
“The instability built into [butt-enhancing shoes] makes a wearer work harder to maintain his or her balance – effectively giving muscles a more rigorous workout, shoe companies say,” writes USA Today’s Michael McCarthy in his June 30, 2010 article, “A revolutionary sneaker, or overhyped gimmick?”

This same principle is at work when you wear six-inch high heels. Again, your body is rushing to keep from toppling over, thus that energized feeling in your legs, which, BTW, I’m told wears thin rather quickly.

All shoes, even the new butt-firmers, change a person’s gait. This is why I regularly suggest to my male patients that they switch up their shoes and not wear the same pair every day. (Women seem to do this without much encouragement.) The idea is to switch around the pressure points on your feet. But routinely alternating shoes is a long way from trying to throw you off balance.

Here’s what I can enthusiastically recommend to those seeking a better butt: Skip the donut at breakfast and (in appropriate shoes) walk an extra block each day. The results will be the same, yet you will avoid (1) the cost of the shoes, (2) a trip to the emergency room, and, even better, (3) no squats!

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