Reebok pays 25M – Kick in the Butt!

As an addendum to the my last post “Whats Up with the Shape-Ups?”, guess what happened to Reebok? They have to pay 25 million due to false “toning” claims. Talk about a kick in the butt!! Read on.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Reebok will need to tone down advertising for its shoes that claim to reshape your backside.

The athletic shoe and clothing company will pay $25 million in customer refunds to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission that it falsely advertised that its “toning” shoes could measurably strengthen the muscles in the legs, thighs and buttocks. As part of the settlement, Reebok also is barred from making some of these claims without scientific evidence.

“Settling does not mean we agree with the FTC’s allegations,” Dan Sarro, a Reebok spokesman, said in a statement Wednesday. “We do not. We have received overwhelmingly enthusiastic feedback from thousands of EasyTone customers.”

It’s the latest controversy surrounding so-called toning shoes, which are designed with a rounded or otherwise unstable sole. Shoemakers say the shoes force wearers to use more muscle to maintain balance and consumers clamored for them, turning toning shoes into a $1.1 billion market in just a few years. Companies such as Reebok, New Balance and Skechers have faced lawsuits over their advertising claims. But the FTC settlement, announced Wednesday, is the first time the government has stepped in.

Reebok International Ltd. makes a range of toning products, including its RunTone running shoes, EasyTone walking shoes and flip flops and some clothing. The company, which is owned by Adidas AG, said that its toning shoes were one of its most popular product launches ever when they debuted in 2009. The company marketed them heavily with ads featuring women in short shorts and with shapely bottoms; one ad even said the shoes would “make your boobs jealous”.

The FTC took issue with Reebok’s ads that claimed its EasyTone footwear had been proven to lead to 28 percent more strength and tone in the buttock muscles and 11 percent more strength and tone in hamstring and calf muscles than regular walking shoes. The FTC said it could not disclose if it was pursuing similar actions against other shoe makers.

“We think this is a real victory for consumers,” said Dana Barragate, an FTC attorney involved in the case. “We hope it sends a message to businesses that if they are going to make claims they must be justified.”

Shoe makers, including Reebok, have funded studies and say they have anecdotal evidence that proves they are effective. Several experts have questioned their validity and the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit fitness organization, conducted a study that found toning shoes failed to live up to the claims of shoe makers. However, the council said the shoes could be beneficial to one’s health if they motivate people to get moving.

Christopher Svezia, with the Susquehanna Financial Group, said many shoemakers have changed their advertising approach as criticism has mounted. “The emphasis has moved to fitness instead of making these kinds of claims and promises,” he said. “The question is who is next and how much is it going to cost them.”

The industry has faced other issues. There have been some injuries reported by wearers who have found themselves with shin splints, twisted ankles and sore muscles from the new gear and motions. Shoe makers suggest new wearers ease into wearing them.

Toning shoes were once the fastest-growing segment in the footwear industry, but recently lost some ground. SportsOne Source Group said that the $1.1 billion market of 2010 is expected to fall about 40 percent to $650 million in 2011 after Skechers flooded the market with products, forcing prices down. However, SportsOne Source said the number of shoes sold is only expected to fall 5 percent, suggesting there is still fairly strong demand.

Rebecca Sayre of Seattle, who bought a pair of Skechers more than a year ago, said they made her legs stronger and posture better. But, she says: “They’ve lost their luster.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Story posted 2011.09.28 at 08:41 PM EDT

So what’s up with the Shape-Ups?

So what’s up with the claims made by these toning shoes??

I’m sure that you all have seen advertisements for the new rage in footwear…”toning” shoes. Several manufactures such as Shape-Ups by Skechers, MBT shoes, and EasyTones by Reebok have made unsubstantiated claims of increased gluteal activation and improved muscle tone as a result of wearing their products. A recent study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise compared 12 patients walking in “toning” shoes to 12 patients walking in traditional walking shoes. Researchers used electromyography (EMG) to evaluate muscle activity in several muscles of the lower extremity including the calf, quad, hamstrings, glutes, low back paraspinals, and the abdominals. The results indicated that none of the 3 studied brands of “toning” shoes exhibited a statistically significant increase in muscle activation. The researchers concluded that there is “simply no evidence” in their study to substantiate the “toning” claims made my the 3 shoe manufactures.

So why is that some patients feel better in “toning” shoes? These shoes are constructed with a rounded or rocker-bottom sole. This type of sole is designed to allow you to “roll” from one step to the next. It would thereby get you to transition more quickly from heel strike to toe-off and, as a result, decrease the amount of time that you are bearing weight on your midfoot. It would lessen the impact load on an arthritic or painful midfoot. It may also limit the amount of bend that is occurring in a painful or arthritic toe.

And: The heels of these shoes are very soft and may decrease the impact load on a painful heel.

And: Because of the raised apex of the rocker-sole, it feels to some of my patients that they are bearing more pressure against their arches thereby decreasing the weight bearing on the heel and the forefoot.

And, lastly: If you watch someone with “toning” shoes walking from behind, you will notice how their ankles tend to look a little unstable due to the softness of the heel and the rocker-bottom effect. This may predispose the patient with a chronic weak ankle to acute sprains. However, it may also have a positive impact on neurologic retraining ie proprioceptive retraining of the foot and ankle. Pre and post balance testing for “toning” shoe wearers would be an interesting thing to test.

But anyways, “Different strokes for different folks”…just don’t be fooled by the claims.