FitFlops: Fashion or Fitness?

Specialists give their take on the FitFlop — a shoe that aims for relaxation and muscle toning.

Adeena Babbitt, a 33-year old public relations executive, sports in and day out. An enthusiastic walker like most Manhattanites, she’s expecting that these new shoes — the very ones that TV host Oprah Winfrey gave a “thumbs up” to on a recent show — will tone her buttocks and legs as she carries on business as usual.

Developed by a fitness expert with input FitFlops have a thick midsole, which motivates wearers to use leg muscles and feet . Research conducted by the producer indicates this thick midsole works the gluteals, hamstrings, thighs, and calf muscles more.

They’re expensive. FitFlops cost considerably more than conventional flip flops.

But are they worth it? Everything depends on who you ask.

“They’re extremely comfy, and so I definitely walk more, but I’m not certain I’m seeing any discernable effects within my thighs, buttocks, or calf,” says Babbitt, who began wearing FitFlop shoes about monthly past. She is still confident that she’ll begin seeing an alteration in her physique. “I adore them and everywhere I go people ask about them.”

 

Shoes Made for Walking?

One thing is clear: FitFlops, which come in a host of colours and can be found at many retailers including Lady Footlocker and Macy’s, are flying off store shelves.

As well as sandals, the firm makes an ankle and a clog -length shearling-lined boot.

FitFlops are “the multitasking ideal,” says Katie Neiman, a spokeswoman and research coordinator for FitFlop Ltd. in London. “They give individuals the chance to to incorporate exercise into their increasingly hectic schedule.”

The firm also reports receiving testimonials and letters from people who experienced relief from heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, arthritis, back pain, and more when they began walking in FitFlops.

But she acknowledges they aren’t any magic bullet. “You’ll tone — provided you walk and do not simply stand around,” she says. “We strongly suggest joining FitFlops with a healthful diet and a more energetic lifestyle.”

 

What the Experts Say

Not everybody is sold on their perks while FitFlops definitely have their supporters.

“The goals are great, but these shoes aren’t all they have been cracked up to be,” says Fabio Comana, MA, MS, an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise in San Diego.

“It’s a fine thick shock-absorbing heel that will prevent overpronating, which in theory is an excellent thing,” he says. In individuals who overpronate, the foot continues to roll in when it causing pain, turning the foot, shin, and knee — and should be pushing off.

But, he says, “I ‘d rather take someone who’s overpronating and train or instruct them the best way to place their foot or advocate orthotics,” he says. “FitFlops are a temporary alternative. What occurs when you take them away?”

The bottom of Comana line? “FitFlops are a comfy shoe to stand or walk in, so proceed and use them,” he says. “If you’re feeling that when you stand in the shoe, the glutes and calf muscles are firing more, wear the shoe but do not overuse them.”

Cary M. Golub, DPM, a podiatrist in private practice in Long Beach, N.Y., believes FitFlop shoes have their appropriate position in particular people’s shoe sets. But “they aren’t meant for everybody, particularly the man with flat feet,” says Golub. “For these folks, it is like putting a stone in the arch, which pushes the arch upwards, creating calf pain,” he says, adding that he’s found several patients reporting such criticisms.

For individuals who can wear FitFlops, “I advocate breaking them in by wearing them for an hour or so a day and raising it by an hour every day,” he says.

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