Posture shoes are designed to improve the posture of the wearer, usually by placing the heel of the shoe lower than the toe. Some companies that offer this type of shoe also claim that the product can relieve back pain, aid weight loss, and enhance endurance. While certain studies suggest the shoes can also tone the muscles of the calves and buttocks, researchers have pointed out major flaws in these studies. In some cases, the manufacturer of the shoe discourages running and jumping while wearing the shoes due to their unstable design.
Shoes that are designed to improve posture are often built with the heel lower than the toe so that the wearer is always walking at an incline. The difference in height is sometimes emphasized by giving the shoe a lot of arch support. This deviation from normal shoe design may not seem like much at first glance, but first-time wearers tend to find walking in them laborious until their muscles grow used to the change.
Walking shoes that are designed to improve posture are common, but they are not the only type of shoe available for this purpose. Many styles of boots, flip-flops, and loafers can be designed as posture shoes while looking nearly identical to regular footwear to the layperson. Some shoes are even designed to simulate being barefoot and are very minimal compared to most shoes. Unlike some posture shoes that should not be used for running, barefoot shoes are sometimes specifically designed for this purpose.
Numerous studies have been conducted to prove or disprove the effectiveness of posture shoes. In one study, half of the women were asked to wear posture shoes and walk 10,000 steps three times per week for one month, and the other half were asked to wear regular shoes and do the same. Those who wore the shoes specifically designed to improve posture and tone muscles burned more fat, gained more endurance, and enhanced their breathing more than the other women.
Even with plenty of supporting evidence, a lot of debate surrounds the effectiveness of posture shoes. Some argue that because the wearer knows that she is wearing shoes to improve her posture and tone her muscles, she walks with a stronger, faster stride. This new stride can explain the positive effects, such as fat loss and better posture, that researchers found in their studies. If this is true, posture shoes are effective because of a placebo effect, a ruse that works, or is at least believed to work, because the user truly believes it should.