Footwear a workout

A flip flop that firms and tones as you walk sounds too good to be true. Is it? The makers of FitFlop — the shoe sold at 4,500 stores around the world — say the shoe was designed to be a workout while you walk, with “side-effects” of comfort and relief from chronic lower back pain.

A pair of Fitflop boots: calf and thigh muscles were activated for longer during walking with these shoes

MIAMI — A flip flop that firms and tones as you walk sounds too good to be true.

Is it? The makers of FitFlop — the shoe sold at 4,500 stores around the world — say the shoe was designed to be a workout while you walk, with “side-effects” of comfort and relief from chronic lower back pain.

The premise of the FitFlop’s rubber sole with different densities (also known as the micro-wobble board) is that it helps tone because it creates instability during walking, forcing leg muscles to work harder to maintain posture and balance.

Skechers and Dr. Scholl’s make their own versions.

Dr. Phil Graham-Smith, head of the Directorate of Sport at the University of Salford, did an independent study on the shoe.

He said data has indicated that calf and thigh muscles were activated for longer during walking with these shoes, and that the speed of walking was slightly faster.

He’s still studying the effects.

“I think the comfort element of it is that you probably feel more motivated to do more exercise as well,” he said.

The idea was to mimic the natural roll over of the foot, said Dr. David Cook, senior lecturer of biomechanics at London South Bank University, who along with a doctoral student created the FitFlop. Cook also said toning depends on a person’s diet, exercise and duration of wearing the shoe.

I wore the FitFlops intermittently for about two weeks and I did feel the familiar burn of exercise in my knees and back leg muscles.

I scanned myself in the mirror daily to see if there was any minute difference and I have to say I felt better, even if I couldn’t see a difference.

My pair was red and white, but there are other styles with sequins, suede and bright colours with transparent soles. (Women’s sandals range from about US$50 to $60, while men’s go for about $60.)

When I got caught in a torrential South Florida summer rainstorm one weekend, the red dye ran all over my toes making me look as if I had cut myself.

A Miami-based orthopedic surgeon and a podiatrist who were asked to examine the shoe both said that wearing an uneven shoe could actually create more problems for people with foot conditions and that sandals are not the safest shoes to wear.

As for an extra workout in a walk? They said it is possible theoretically, but hard to quantify.

“The big question in my mind is to what extent is this enough of a wobble that it actually produces a medical effect, where you’re actually toning muscles and building strength,” said Marc Umlas, an orthopedic surgeon at Mount Sinai Medical Centre in Miami Beach.

“The other question is to what extent does it cause damage? We don’t know how much this can increase in sprains or strains or other muscular skeletal injuries.”

He added that women have been wearing narrow, high-heeled shoes that create a wobble for ages.

Podiatrist James Losito of the Barry University Foot&Ankle Institute said walking barefoot isn’t necessarily a good thing nowadays.

“Walking barefoot isn’t something we would recommend for most people based on the terrains of our civilization,” he said.

Just Posted

UPDATED: Economy and health care expected to be hot election topics

Premier Rachel Notley makes announcement on Tuesday morning

Cruel and sadistic: Central Alberta dog rescuers believe there are dog fighting rings in province

With the increased number of stolen dogs, some central Alberta rescuers are… Continue reading

Red Deer hospital expansion recognized in throne speech

Society for Hospital Expansion in Central Alberta calls for more details

Mixed Nuts revue presented Saturday to kick off first Carole Forhan Theatrical Scholarship

Broadway songs, comedy skits are part of the Red Deer Players production

Opinion: Let’s be heard ‘loud and clear’ during provincial election campaign

By David Marsden During the banquet for Sunday’s Boston Bruins alumni game,… Continue reading

Documentary on Colten Boushie case to open Toronto’s Hot Docs festival

TORONTO — A film examining the case of a young Indigenous man… Continue reading

Want to help bees? Plant flowering herbs

Herbs are among the most useful plants in nature. They can tantalize… Continue reading

UN: Gene editing for human reproduction is ‘irresponsible’

GENEVA — A panel convened by the World Health Organization said it… Continue reading

Photos: Three moose spotted in Red Deer Tuesday

Three moose were spotted in Red Deer Tuesday morning. Red Deer resident… Continue reading

Andreescu rockets to No. 24 in WTA Tour rankings after Indian Wells title

Canada’s Bianca Andreescu has rocketed to No. 24 in the WTA Tour… Continue reading

Canadian figure skaters looking to reach new heights at world championships

Nam Nguyen, Alaine Chartrand and Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro all have… Continue reading

Man linked to largest art heist in history freed from prison

HARTFORD, Conn. — A reputed Connecticut mobster who federal authorities believe is… Continue reading

Most Read