What ever happened to the toning shoes?

Approximately 10 years ago, the toning shoes had been all the craze. They were shoes which were expected to allow you to firm up and obtain an extra workout if using them. Several even stated to condition the “butts” and cure cellulite on the legs. That did not work out too well for the businesses with legal agreements and despite endorsements from celebrities they soon fell off from selling well.

Toning footwear or what is also referred to as unstable footwear are shoes that is intentionally designed with rocker soles as well as other design characteristics to make the footwear unstable in order that the muscles are claimed to work harder to improve stability. It is primarily the higher muscle exercise that was promoted being a greater workout when using the footwear, ie a tone up. After the footwear arrived on the market the health assertions and alleged advantages made for them were rather astounding. A number of celebrities and sports stars were utilized in advertising material to support and advertise the assertions. Sales of this footwear were pretty considerable on the basis of these assertions and claimed health benefits.

When the appropriate research was completed on these shoes, it didn’t support the claims that were being claimed for the benefits of the shoes. The research did demonstrate that muscle activity was greater and the walking was somewhat distinctive while using the footwear, however it wasn’t enough to give all the many benefits that have been claimed for the toning shoes. As these were health promises that were being made which were never backed up by the research this caught the attention of the medical and advertising regulatory agencies in several countries and they became involved in lawsuits. This finished up in substantial multi-million dollar fines and settlements by a few of the shoe companies that were doing the unrealistic health alleged benefits. A number of class action legal cases were furthermore paid out based on claims that those who purchased the shoes just didn’t have the advertised health benefits from them. This drastically impacted sales and interest in this footwear and they more or less faded away.

There are still a few shoes available on the market that would be viewed as toning or unstable footwear and there is still some research going on with them. All of this doesn’t mean that there is actually something inappropriate using these sorts of footwear. The problem was just the substantially embellished assertions made for the shoes and the advertising around those claims. These types of toning shoes can have their uses. Clinicians continue to find these toning footwear to be extremely ideal for modifying the way people walk with conditions like painful knee arthritis plus some individuals with lower back conditions that may be associated with the way that individuals move. The rationale is when walking one way is uncomfortable, then if the subtle modification can be produced in the way they walk with the aid of these shoes, then there could be a reduction in pain. A possible problem with this strategy could be that the studies are unclear on who might and will likely not benefit. They are also especially useful for individuals who have painful arthritis within the big toe or hallux joints.

What running shoes can I use if I have bunions?

There is an abundance of good information on bunions online, so there is no point going over all that information again.

The running shoes that are best if you have bunions are those that are wider in the forefoot to accommodate the bunion. The most typical running shoes that are made on a wider last is often not wide enough. You could try on the wider last models of each of the brands to see how they feel on you in the store. There is really only one brand that is any good here and they are the Altra running shoes. They are very wide in the forefoot compared to other brands and they have the width to accommodate the enlarged joint that is associated with the bunion. If you have a bunion, then try a pair in a running shoe store to see if they are for you.

The Altra Footshape Toe box can accommodate bunions

What else could you do if you have bunions?

The only way to get rid of bunion is with surgery, however, there are other options to help with the symptoms. What is important is to keep the joint supple and flexible with exercises as it does have a tendency to become stiffer or more rigid. A bunion corrector can also be used to help with that somewhat. If you can not get the shoes right, then there are pads chapped like donuts that can be worn to keep the pressure off the joint.

Why was barefoot running such a fad?

Barefoot running has been a large novelty about 10 years ago which lasted a couple of years and pulled in a lot of curiosity, particularly in social media. At the end of 2008 to early 2009 there was growing comments that running shoes were really bad for the athletes and was the reason for the vast majority of injuries which athletes were getting. It was despite the phenomenal volume of research and technology which went into creating running shoes to stop these injuries. These claims produced a fad for runners to experiment with running without making use of running shoes and going barefoot or using what become known as minimalist athletic shoes. These kinds of athletic shoes had negligible technology or characteristics within them and were merely a protective covering up of the feet.

The without athletic shoes running fad had been motivated by a substantial existence in social media. There were plenty of web sites, publications, programs, journals and message boards focused on and advocating without running shoes running. A lot of incredible assertions were made for barefoot running as to what it is going to do for the runners. It was believed that up to 25 % of runners may have played around with in some way with without athletic shoes running. Nevertheless, by late 2013 and early 2014 involvement in barefoot running had evaporated away and athletes weren’t any longer enthusiastic about it. This was despite all of the astounding promises that got made in regards to the advantages of the idea as well as the comments from a few that it was about to put the running footwear providers out of business. This never ever happened.

The trend dropped since the claimed advantages rarely accumulated for the vast majority of athletes who attempted it. There initially were a lot of comments made how the science supported without running shoes running, when in actuality there wasn’t any research that demonstrated that it had been better and following research has revealed how the overuse injury incidence in barefoot or minimalist running isn’t lower than people who run in the padded athletic shoes. There was a lot of research carried out on barefoot and minimalist running, however that science failed to show that it turned out any greater, it really indicated that that it was different. The fact that there was a great deal of science which was misinterpreted by individuals who touted barefoot running as showing it had been superior, when that isn’t what it proved.

At the end with the barefoot trend, the Hoka One One running footwear company introduced some maximally cushioned running footwear that were laughed at and loathed by individuals advocating barefoot running. Despite that, runners liked this footwear and the Hoka’s are now a strong player in the running shoe marketplace and since 2014 the trend has been for the much more maximally padded running footwear from all of the running shoe manufacturers.

There is certainly however a little group of hardcore barefoot runners which was always there. At this time the minimalist athletic shoes have made up approximately 0.3-0.5% of the running footwear market for the previous few years. Those maximalist running shoes continue to dominate the marketplace for the past 5-7 years and there is no hint in any drop in their share of the market or a come back of any affinity for barefoot or minimalist running footwear.

Running Shoe Regulations for Competition Updated

running shoe regulations

Media Release from World Athletics:

World Athletics today announces further revisions to its rules governing shoe technology, which are designed to give certainty to athletes preparing for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and to preserve the integrity of elite competition.

These amendments, approved by the World Athletics Council and introduced further revisions to its rules governing shoe technology, with immediate effect, are based on significant ongoing discussions with the Working Group on Athletic Shoes, established this year, and with the shoe manufacturers.

They include changes to the maximum height of spiked shoes for track and field events and the establishment of an ‘Athletic Shoe Availability Scheme’ for unsponsored elite athletes. The maximum height for road shoes (40mm) remains unchanged.

The purpose of these amendments is to maintain the current technology status quo until the Olympic Games in Tokyo across all events until a newly formed Working Group on Athletic Shoes, which includes representatives from shoe manufacturers and the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI), have had the opportunity to set the parameters for achieving the right balance between innovation, competitive advantage and universality and availability.

The amendments include:

  1. Clarification of the position for new shoes that have been approved to date;
  2. As an ongoing obligation, athletes, their authorised representative or their shoe manufacturer must continue to submit shoe specifications and, if requested, new shoes for examination by our independent expert;
  3. Approved shoes to be made available prior to an international competition for distribution to any uncontracted elite athlete via an Athletic Shoe Availability Scheme. The Working Group on Athletic Shoes will develop this scheme including timelines, elite athlete criteria, numbers of pairs of shoes required and method of distribution.
  4. Confirmation that the manufacturer commits to making the new shoe available via a scheme to provide shoes to unsponsored elite athletes for free and/or for purchase depending on whether they are qualified or an unqualified athlete who benefits from a place at World Athletics Series events or Olympic Games;
  5. Provision of information concerning the availability of the shoe for other unsponsored elite athletes who need a pair of shoes prior to competition. This is in keeping with the principle of shoes being reasonably available to athletes. As a priority item, in its forthcoming meeting we will work with the working group and World Federation of Sports Goods Industry to design an ‘Athletic Shoe Availability Scheme’ to deliver this. The scheme will cover process, criteria, numbers of pairs of shoes required, method of distribution and when the shoe needs to be available from (our position, which has been generally accepted by manufacturers, is for one month prior to international competition). 


The maximum height of the track spike shoes have been amended as set out in the table below:

EventMaximum thickness of the sole (As per rule 5.5, notes (i), (ii), (iii) and figures (a) & (b) to rule 5.5, and rule 5.13.3).Further rule requirement
Field events (except triple jump)20mmApplies to all throwing events, and vertical and horizontal jumping events except the triple jump. For all field events, the sole at the centre of the athlete’s forefoot must not be higher than the sole at centre of the athlete’s heel.
Triple jump25mmThe sole at the centre of the athlete’s forefoot must not be higher than the sole at centre of the athlete’s heel.
Track events (including hurdle events) up to but not including 800m20mmFor relays the rule applies to the distance of the leg being run by each athlete.
Track events from 800m and above (including steeplechase events)25mmFor relays the rule applies to the distance of the leg being run by each athlete. For race walking events the maximum thickness of the sole is the same as that for road events.
Cross country25mm 
Road events (running and race walking events)40mm 
Events under rule 57 of the technical rulesAny thickness 

World Athletics CEO Jon Ridgeon said the previous rule changes, announced in late January, were designed to give the athletes clarity before the Tokyo Olympic Games, which were originally due to take place in July-August this year.

However the later postponement of the Olympic Games for a full year, due to the global pandemic, had given the governing body more time to consult with stakeholders and experts and develop amended rules that will guide the sport through until late 2021.

“We have a better understanding now of what technology is already in the market and where we need to draw the line to maintain the status quo until after the Tokyo Olympic Games,” Ridgeon said. 

“In developing these rules we have been mindful of the principles of fair play and universality, maintaining the health and safety of athletes, reflecting the existing shoe market in these challenging economic times, and achieving a broad consensus with the shoe manufacturers who are major investors in our sport.

“These transitional rules give us more time to develop a set of working rules for the long term, which will be introduced after the Olympic Games next year, with the aim of achieving the right balance between innovation, competitive advantage and universality.”

Working Group on Athletic Shoes

The new Working Group on Athletic Shoes (WGAS) met for their first meeting last Wednesday (22 July). It is tasked with scoping and overseeing studies around shoe technology, exploring definitions to provide clarity to athletes about the shoes they are able to compete in, creating a robust certification and control process and providing expert advice and recommendations to the World Athletics Competition Commission on the future direction of World Athletics’ Rules and Regulations concerning elite athlete shoes for the long-term which may or may not be different to the current rules. The structure and composition of the WGAS can be found here.

Running in Tarahumara culture

Press Release:

“Running in Tarahumara (Rarámuri) Culture,” just published in Current Anthropology (v61, no. 3 (June 2020): 356-379) studies the Tarahumara Native Americans of northern Mexico. For over a century, the Tarahumara have been famous for their long distance running traditions and abilities, with many accounts claiming they have superhuman athletic abilities that partly result from being uncontaminated by westernization. Now an international team of researchers (including a champion Tarahumara runner) combine their own observations with detailed interviews of elderly Tarahumara runners to dispel these stereotypical myths, which they term the “fallacy of the athletic savage.” Lieberman and colleagues use accounts by Tarahumara runners to detail the various ways Tarahumara used to run for hours to hunt animals, and they describe how the Tarahumara still run traditional long distance races that, for men, involve chasing a small wooden ball and, for women, a hoop. While these many different kinds of running have important social dimensions, running is also a spiritually vital form of prayer for the Tarahumara. Further, contrary to the fallacy of the athletic savage, Tarahumara runners –both men and women– struggle just as much as runners from other cultures to run long distances, and instead of being the natural “superathletes” that some journalists have claimed, they develop their endurance from regular hard work and other endurance physical activities such as lots of walking and dancing.

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Daniel E. Lieberman, Mickey Mahaffey, Silvino Cubesare Quimare, Nicholas B. Holowka, Ian J. Wallace, and Aaron L. Baggish, “Running in Tarahumara (Rarámuri) Culture: Persistence Hunting, Footracing, Dancing, Work, and the Fallacy of the Athletic Savage,” Current Anthropology 61, no. 3 (June 2020): 356-379.