Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Historically foot wears were being used, primarily for protecting the feet against getting dirtied or injured while walking. Wearing comfort has been the main consideration while designing such foot wears. With the advent of athletic shoes using tough soles and soft pods which provide good support and cushioning, value addition in footwear industry reached astronomic proportions. Designs of shoes and the multicolor pods have made them almost on par with jewelery, capable of enhancing the personality of the wearer! Recent claims about the ability of the shoes to improve muscle health indicate the newer opportunities the footwear industry has in becoming a player in the personal health care business.

"While most athletic shoes offer support and cushioning, the new muscle-activating shoes are engineered to create a sense of instability. Design elements like curved soles and Reebok's "balance pods" are said to force the wearer to engage stabilizing muscles further, resulting in additional toning for calf, hamstring and gluteal muscles. That sounds great, but do they really work? To support the claims, the shoemakers each offer company-financed exercise studies suggesting that the shoes produce a higher level of muscle engagement, at least in a controlled research setting. But the studies don't show whether more engagement leads to meaningful changes in muscle tone or appearance over time. Nor is it clear whether the high level of engagement continues once the walker becomes accustomed to the shoe".

Shoes with claims to cure arthritis, back pain and obesity are also being offered by manufacturers. The basic design feature in all these new brands is to create a sense of instability forcing the wearer to engage in stabilizing the muscles further, especially the calf, harmstring and gluteal ones. One of the least considered areas by the footwear industry is the vulnerability of the wearers to fungal and other infections spread by microorganisms that develop inside the shoes, especially under high humidity conditions, causing a variety of skin afflictions. Probably some efforts are needed to be directed to this area for coming out with future models that can ensure freedom from shoe related skin problems on the feet.


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