Maybe you've noticed them multiplying in sporting-goods stores or their online equivalents, sort of funny-looking athletic shoes with round soles. These are "rocker shoes" and they make you rock when you walk. Why would you want to do that? These shoes claim they can help you get fit.
Sketchers, for example, has a new line of rocker shoes called Shape-ups. Sketchers claims that they can help you shape-up while you walk, work and live your everyday life.
"Shape-ups simulate walking on a soft surface like sand," says Sketchers, as it describes its new products. You know how you have to do extra work to walk on sand? That's the idea.
"Shape-ups provide a natural instability that makes you use more energy with every step," says Sketchers, who also claims that Shape-ups can help firm your buttocks and thighs, help tighten your abdominals, help improve your posture and of course, help burn calories.
And, Shape-ups are not alone. Reebok has a line of rocker shoes called EasyTone, which includes both sneakers and flip-flops. And the footwear company MBT has a full line of rockers shoes for both men and women. Rocker shoes range in price from about $100 to $120 for Shape-ups, and up to $300 for the MBT shoes.
"Look, all these things have a placebo effect," say Dakota Mitchell, a personal trainer in Woodland Hills, California. "You pay a hundred bucks for a pair of trendy rocking shoes and you are probably going to be walking more than you would normally. You see results, but it's from exercising more, not from the shoes."
However, Mitchell adds, "Anything that gets you out there doing it, is good."
Ask a doctor about it, and you get an answer that sounds pretty much the same.
"They may help your alignment and they may help improve your posture," says Dr. Bruce Hensel of NBC4. "And, they may help burn a few calories. But, most significantly, they will only help if you do other things, like exercise in them."
Hensel points out that shoes are important when you set out to exercise.
"Shoes do make a crucial difference in assisting exercise and preventing injury," he says. "But the best results come when shoes and orthotic inserts built for your foot are evaluated by an expert."