Do Young Girls NEED Skechers Shape-Ups?

Skechers Shape-Up shoes have become tremendously popular. The shoes, with their rocker sole design, are marketed as toning shoes. The rocker sole provides a shift in the center of gravity and causes the posterior muscles in the ankle, calf, thigh, and buttocks to work harder. According to the company, this can lead to a more toned appearance to the legs and rear end. The use of these shoes have been questionable for all adult men and women, with the American Council on Exercise dismissing these claims, but now Skechers is marketing these shoes to young girls.

According to the Skechers website, the shoes start at size 2, the typical size for a 7 year old girl. There are many who are up in arms about the statement this makes on body image for girls and that 7 year-olds should not have to worry about their appearance. Add to that, the terrible message that it is something unique to girls and not boys (the shoes are not being made or marketed to young boys...only girls). As a father of a 6 year old daughter, I agree whole-heartedly with this. As a podiatrist in Houston, I have other concerns about the shoes being marketing to kids.

The technology that the Shape-Ups use, a rocker-bottom sole that creates an unstable base of support, is not what children should be wearing on their feet. A child's foot needs to function with their normal mechanics, not the compensation that the Skechers force it into doing. Kids using a shoe that creates such instability can lead to a number of foot problems.

One major issue that can arise with a child using an unstable rocker-sole shoe is a sprained ankle. A child twisting their ankle when using a shoe like a Skechers Shape-Up can cause torn ligaments in the ankle, which will lead to an unstable ankle and cause future ankle sprains. Weakened ankles due to sprains is something that can stay with a child throughout their entire life.

Another issue related to these shoes is the weight being forced to the front of the foot. This can lead to serious injuries like a stress fracture in the midfoot or forefoot. It also can lead to trauma to the toenails from hitting the front of the shoe and becoming an ingrown toenail.

I don't recommend Skechers shape-ups for most of my adult patients in my Houston podiatry practice. I would NEVER recommend them for any developing boy or girl to wear. Parents be warned! Shame on you Skechers for marketing your product to young girls when it is, at best, unneccesary and, at worst, harmful.
Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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