Shape-Ups Should Ship Out

Yesterday was a beautiful day and all of Hudson was out walking. This is a good thing- like many communities, Hudson is struggling with obesity among its residents. But, I was very surprised to see how many people were sporting the new “Shape-Ups” sneakers that have been advertised so much over the last few months. So- WARNING! WARNING! Rant and rave begins here……..

The commercials for Shape-Ups, Masai Barefoot Technology, or any other mimic of these shoes are downright misleading. Do you really think that the 18 year old, 5’9 ,110 pound model wearing these shoes got her butt and legs from wearing Shape-Ups? Of course not. Do you really think that these sneakers will produce the same results as a gym workout without the effort? Of course not. These commercials are no different than any other misleading “Miracle Cure” pill, potion or exercise gadget. The commercial even goes on to say it will help with weight loss and tone legs and buttocks. ALL of these claims are false and an exaggeration. Let me tell you why…

Masai Barefoot Technology has been around for a decade or more. It is a shoe designed to mimic the rolling gait of barefoot Masai Warriors on soft sand and grass. The inventor surmised that Masai Warriors have a lower incidence of leg and hip injuries due to their barefoot walking. While this is most likely true (not to mention they don’t sit at a computer all day nor eat junk food)-there ARE many exercise physiologists who encourage barefoot walking- the idea that we can achieve the same healthy gait as the Masai by putting ourselves way up on a platformed shoe is ridiculous. Furthermore, the notion that you will “tone” (I hate that word) muscles and increase weight loss is so highly exaggerated it is close to a downright lie. A miniature study with only 22 participants showed a 2.5% increase in oxygen consumption while wearing these shoes. What does that mean for you? Nothing. This amount of increased oxygen consumption could be as little as a few calories! This same study showed an increase in neurological stimulation of some leg muscles- but again, this will NOT increase tone, act as weight training or substitute for a gym workout. The ONLY thing which the shoes may do is increase ankle workload and improve balance through increased neurological stimulation/proprioception- something that could easily be done by….. ready……. GOING BAREFOOT! WOW. What a revelation!

So- who did I see wearing the Shape-Ups around town? A woman smoking a cigarette and four obese women. I think they would be much better served by attacking the larger issues at hand- poor nutrition, lack of exerise and smoking. And, if you are looking for improved ankle stability and posture, I suggest you contact a trainer,strength coach or physical therapist who can show you the correct way to improve these fitness parameters.

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