Are Skechers Shape-Ups and other rocker-bottom sole toning shoes really miracles of modern engineering that will cause pounds and inches to melt away, tone muscles, and leave you with a behind like Kim Kardashian? According to a new report from the Atlantic, probably not. In fact, there’s very little evidence that Skechers Shape-Ups and similar rounded-sole toning shoes will provide any more benefits than traditional athletic shoes. What’s more, a growing number of lawsuits allege that wearing Skechers Shape-Ups can result in falls and serious injuries, including broken bones and tendon and ligament injuries.
According to the Atlantic, Skechers Shape-Ups have been, by far, the most aggressively marketed toning shoes currently available. Unlike traditional flat-soled athletic shoes, Skechers Shape-Ups and other toning shoes with rounded soles create an unstable gait. Because they are continually adjusting for this unstable gait, wearers of toning shoes will work more muscles and reap greater physical benefits than they would if they wore flat-soled shoes – or so the theory goes. Unfortunately, the theory is based on questionable science.
Skechers points to eight studies that purportedly show more muscle activation with round-sole toning shoes versus flat-soled shoes to support its marketing claims. But according to the Atlantic, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken issue with Skechers’ interpretation of those studies, charging the company cherry-picked results and failed to substantiate its ad claims. Earlier this year, Skechers reached a settlement with the FTC over its toning shoe marketing, and agreed to provide refunds to consumers who purchased its toning shoes. However, the company hasn’t admitted to any wrongdoing.
Then there are the injuries alleged to have been caused by Skechers Shape-Ups. Dozens of lawsuits currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky in Louisville claim the unstable gait created by Skechers Shape-Ups and other toning shoes leaves wearers prone to falls and other injuries, including:
- Hip fractures
- Rolled/twisted ankles
- Broken bones
- Stress fractures
- Joint dislocation
- Fall related injuries
- Back strain
- Torn tendons and ligaments
Many of the plaintiffs involved in the litigation have needed surgery and extensive rehab since they were injured, due to the allegedly dangerous design of Skechers toning shoes. Among other things, plaintiffs point to a May 2011 Consumer Reports article stating that toning shoes had produced more injury reports than any other product in its database.