Change the world? Nah, I just want an ass like Kim Kardashian. Well in order to get “dat ass”, you have to wear shape shoes, according to the ass herself. Yes, shape shoes.
What are shape shoes, I hear you ask? Well, my friend, they’re shoes that look like canoes. Yes, they’re shoe canoes! Apparently the odd shape of these shoes makes your lower limbs unstable when you walk, causing you to contract the muscles of the lower limb more than normal. Additionally, the rocking back and forth of the shoes is said to lead to greater activation of the glutes, giving you a fabulous fanny, dashing derriere and a plush posterior! Yum.
The companies themselves have released many “research papers” on the topic, showing these shoes to: sculpt yo’ ass, make you mo’ muscular and probably cure cancer. Today we’re giving those papers a bit of a miss and focusing on the proper scientific literature on the topic, to answer once and for all: will shape shoes shape you?
So, will they?
Great question! Let’s see.
In one very small study, individuals were asked to stand and then walk along a plate in normal shoes, or shape shoes (Reebok Easy Tones). While they did this sensors were attached to their muscles – including, but not limited to, their butt! When individuals stood on the plate, the force going through the plate and the activation of the muscles was the same in both groups. This indicates, at least, that standing in shape shoes isn’t going to sculpt your butt, or any other muscles!
What about walking? When walking there was no difference in gluteal activation between the two shoes. There was a very minor increase in quad muscle activity, but after statistical analysis the authors stated this may have been due to chance (1). It looks like Kim might be lying to you!
But before we unequivocally accuse Kim of fibbing let’s scratch deeper. A second study (small again) showed a shape shoe to slightly increase the force placed through the lower limbs. However, shape shoers, there was NO increase in gluteal, or other lower limb, muscle activation when compared to normal shoes (2) Suggesting, again, that shape shoes are unlikely to sculpt that behind of yours.
Okay, Kim, one last shot for redemption. A third study was more positive. It found rocker shoes to slightly increase calf and quadricep muscle activity. However, once again there was no notable change in gluteal activity when wearing shape shoes (3). So what does this mean? Are shape shoes healthful?
Is it healthful?
Booty building: When it comes to toning your bottom, walking or standing in shape shoes isn’t going to have any effect, based on current data. Yes, the scientific evidence isn’t strong; but in the studies to date there isn’t a single sign of increased gluteal activity, or any evidence to suggest that shape shoes might work for this. The verdict: unhealthful.
Strengthening other lower limb muscles: Shape shoes MAY increase the amount you work the calf muscles and quadriceps when walking. However, this is a MAY and I very much doubt this will lead to a significant change in the appearance or function of these muscles. For this reason, shape shoes are unhealthful, or slightly healthful for toning lower limb muscles.
Before I finish, I should note that there is good evidence that rocker type shoes may be beneficial for certain ankle conditions. But that isn’t the focus of this article.
As always, I hope this has been healthful! What are your thoughts? Have you tried shape shoes?