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Shoes advertised to effortlessly improve balance, tone muscles, and burn more calories while you walk are the latest craze in the shoe market. Designers have honed in on the beveled sole, or rocker-bottom, originally developed by podiatrists to treat some joint and posture problems. These shoes have thicker, rounded soles designed to be unstable, making your muscles work harder to keep you balanced while you walk. The concept sounds good in theory. Who wouldn’t want tighter calves simply from walking around the house? Research has shown that these shoes do indeed increase muscle activation and therefore increase calorie burn slightly, but the claims that they improve balance and joint pain stand on tenuous footing. Since March 11, 36 injury reports due to toning shoes have been filed to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which amounts to more injuries for these shoes than for any other product category. Nearly half of these reports complained of broken bones, which in many cases required surgery. Others complained of tendinitis; foot, leg, and hip pain; and ruptured meniscus, tendons, and ligaments. While the shoe industry has raked in over $1 billion in the past year on this trendy product, an article published on May 25 in Consumer Reports advised its readers to avoid these toning shoes. Meanwhile, Skechers, Reebok and New Balance are among the toning shoes manufacturers already facing product liability lawsuits over injuries related to the shoes. Because of their inherent instability, toning shoes are especially dangerous for older people or people with poor balance or weak ankles. However, everyone should exercise caution when using these products. They are designed for an ideally aligned foot, but since everyone’s feet are shaped a little differently, motion that could ease joint pain in some can cause joint pain and other problems in others. The truth is that the benefits of toning shoes have been overstated while the risks have been downplayed, and the number of unsatisfied and injured consumers clearly illustrates that the risk of injury is not worth a burning a few more calories. If you have sustained injuries from toning shoes or other defective products, please contact the experienced Mobile, Alabama, product liability attorneys at Long & Long, to schedule a free consultation today.

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