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Monday, July 27, 2009

Functional Footwear: A wobble board by any other name

Functional footwear is the new buzz term for shoes which purport to exercise the body. Exercise footwear has quite a history starting with the Earth shoe and exercise sandal in the 60s. More recently however the MBT (Masai Barefoot Technology) trainer and FitFlops have enjoyed significant sales. Now Reebok have joined the ranks with the EasyTones. The manufacturers’ claims of efficacious effects from wearing the balance (wobble) board type shoes have caused several scientists around the globe to scurry to their laboratories to look for evidence shoes (alone) can exercise the body. The majority of the scientific evidence available is however based on small trials and almost exclusively self-funded by the companies involved. This should make consumers very wary. The few independent studies have shown little benefit leaving critics sceptical and concerned functional footwear may lead to injury in some people. So consumers should exercise caution. The popularity of Earth Shoes dwindled after many people found only temporary benefit wearing a negative heel and people wearing Exercise sandals usually had to endure long ‘break in’ periods before they eventually found the flats comfortable.

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