By Dr. Bruce Pinker

According to the Chicago Tribune on May 16, 2012, Skechers, the footwear company, has agreed to pay $40 million to settle charges by federal officials that it deceived consumers by making unfounded claims about the health benefits of its rocker-bottom shoes. The Shape-ups, the Resistance Runner, Toners, and Tone-ups, all which cost between $60 and $100 a pair, have been under investigation due to unsubstantiated claims. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stated that the company also ran ads that misrepresented clinical studies, failed to support the claims, and “cherry picked” the results. Consumers who purchased shoes from Skechers can apply for refunds as part of the settlement.

It now appears that the toning footwear phenomenon is over. Interestingly, the FTC settled a similar case with Reebok International Ltd last year for its inappropriate “Easy Tone” shoe ads. The rocker-bottom toning shoes are a unique design, originally created by a company called MBT (Masai Barefoot technology). These shoes create instability which challenges the individual to use special muscle groups they normally do not use in order to maintain balance. By doing so, it gives the wearer of the shoe the impression that they are “getting a workout.”

As we see from the lawsuit against Skechers, there is no substitute for exercise. When performed properly, a good workout can strengthen our cardiovascular system, provide for weight loss, and fortify muscles and bones. We all need to exercise regularly to maintain good health. Thousands of years ago, people participated in activity as a means of survival through hunting animals and gathering food. Still, to this day, it is important for both children and adults to exercise daily.

It is not possible to support your heart and major muscle groups of the body by simply walking in rocker-bottom footwear. A solid workout for at least 30 minutes per day promotes enhanced health and also provides stress relief. Wearing proper shoes is essential to working out and exercising effectively.

Taking good care of your feet can be your first step towards good health. Remember, your feet are the foundation for your body.

Dr. Bruce Pinker is a podiatrist with offices in Pomona and White Plains

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