No doubt we have all seen people walking around in those interesting looking rocker bottom shoes. While they are used to assist people with conditions such as food ulcers (as they may take pressure off the heel), they have been marketed to help tone your legs and burn more calories. Nice idea – just buy a pair of shoes, go about your normal day while you burn fat and get toned legs. But do they really work?
In the September issue of the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, researchers examined the effects of rocker bottom shoes on muscle activation and calories burned.
For this study, researchers took 28 healthy subjects (17 women and 11 men) in their twenties. The participants walked on a treadmill with 3 different shoes: a regular flat shoe, a rocker bottom shoe and a regular shoe with added weight to equal the weight of the rocker bottom shoe (which was a Skecher Shape-Ups XF-Energy Blast – cool name!). Electrodes were placed on their biceps femoris, rectus femoris, tibialis anterior and gastrocnemius to measure muscle activation. An ORCA metabolic cart was used to measure oxygen consumption - which indicates how hard your metabolism is working and thus calories burned.
The subjects walked for ten minutes on the treadmill with 0% grade at what they considered a comfortable walking speed. After the 10 minutes, there was a 2-5 min rest and the participants changed their shoes to try each of the shod conditions.
Researchers found no difference in muscle activation or oxygen consumption with the 3 different shoe conditions.
Creative products such as rocker bottom shoes have been part of the fitness industry since the beginning. To make a quick buck in this industry, all you have to do is give people what they want – a quick, painless, effortless, easy fix to get them in the shape they want to be. However, the truth is there are no shape-up short cuts. Save your money and don’t buy fitness gimmicks. Train hard and eat right – that’s the real secret!
Santo, Antonio S, Roper, Jenevieve L, Dufek, Janet S, Mercer, John A. Rocker-bottom, profile-type shoes do not increase lower extremity muscle activation or energy cost of walking. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. September 2012, 26(9); p 2426-2431.