Posture shoes were made to help individuals improve their posture, typically by elevating the toe of the shoe so that it is above the heel. Some manufacturers of this shoe boast that it can alleviate back pain, assist weight loss, and improve endurance. While studies suggest that wearing elevated shoes can tone the calves and buttocks, many researchers have criticized these studies for being flawed. In some cases, the shoe companies actively discourage performing any physical activities with this shoe such as jumping or running since their unstable design may cause injuries.
The purpose of elevating the toe of the shoe higher than the heel is so that the user is always walking at an incline. The height difference is usually created by giving the shoe plenty of arch support. The difference between a posture shoe and a regular shoe may not seem like much initially, but first-time users will find this slight change to be quite tiring to walk in until their muscles grow and adapt to the change.
Walking shoes made specifically to treat posture are quite common, however they are not the only kind of shoe made for this purpose. Many types of flip-flops, boots, and loafers can be made to be like a posture shoe while looking nearly identical to their regular counterparts to the average person. Some posture shoes have been made to simulate walking barefoot and are very minimalistic compared to many shoes. Unlike posture shows which should never be used for running, barefoot shoes are much better suited for it.
A plethora of studies have been conducted to determine how effective posture shoes truly are. In one of the studies, half of the women were instructed to walk 10,000 steps while wearing posture shoes three times a week for 30 days. The other half, the control group, was simply asked to wear regular shoes and walk just as much and just as often as the women wearing posture shoes. After the 30 days were up, the women who wore posture shoes ended up having more endurance, had more muscular calves, burned more calories, and improved their respiratory health compared to the control group.
Even with a lot of supporting evidence, plenty of debate still surrounds how effective posture shoes truly are. Many critics argue that since the wearer knows that she is wearing shoes specifically designed to better her posture and tone her muscles, she unknowingly walks faster with a stronger stride which may affect results found in studies. If this is indeed the case, then posture shoes only work due to a placebo effect. Placebos are anything that happen because the individual really believes it should happen and the body reacts as if it actually does happen. For instance, many studies have shown that people who take sugar pills (even if they are aware it is a sugar pill) versus actual medicine tend to receive the same healing properties as if they ingested real medicine, however one should not rely on this being the case all the time.