Thursday, 9 June 2011

Fitflop Fallacy

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A new crazy hitting the high streets this summer is the fit-flop 1, which has been promoted with claims such as “helps you lose weight and improve muscle tone”2 simply by walking. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and this product is trying to provide that evidence by extrapolating on the initial findings from a very small study of the shoes (only 20 women).  Fit-flop claims to increase leg and thigh muscle activity by up to 30% 1, 2, however in such a small study it would be impossible to know if such a claim is true. While the position of the strap over the main part of the foot is beneficial over conventional flip-flops it is by no means a method for obtaining toned muscles. The method claimed this was due to the soft area of padding in the mid area of the shoe, which apparently means the foot is more unstable and has to work harder to keep balance. Would this not be the same as buying a pair of shoes that don’t fit properly? Because your legs would have to work harder to keep them on your feet. And if this is the case then why would you pay $50 for a pair of sandals that do not fit? Podiatrist Lorraine Jones says "If someone has excessive motion in the mid-foot that isn't controlled they could suffer tissue damage or heel or calf pain," 2 many other scientists have been critical about this product, sighting the pronation of the foot and the excessive rolling of the foot to be a major source of knee pain and foot pain, due to the lack of support. There is no evidence to suggest they are any better than another pair of footwear.

Not only are they likely to be damaging to your feet, they also have no proof they will help you lose weight, except for maybe giving you the motivation to walk more because you have just spent $50 on a pair of flip-flops. Again, it is the age old saying ‘no pain, no gain’, there is no easy solution and the only really proven way to become more fit is to reduce your calorie intake, eat a healthy balanced diet and exercise regularly.

E Markham (2011). Fitflop Fallacy Blogspot

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