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Skechers – A Sketchy Shoe That Won’t Cause You to Lose Weight, But Might Lead to Back Pain, Painful Joints, and Broken Bones

by Dr. Stephen Gangemi on February 22, 2011

Skechers Shape-Ups are to blame for fracturing both hips in an Ohio waitress who just wanted to tone more muscles while she worked, as the shoes advertised. Holly Ward recently filed a lawsuit against Skechers stating that she wore the toning shoes during her job as a waitress and after five months, she developed severe pain in her hips. According to the lawsuit, the 38-year-old had no previous injuries and had a healthy bone density of a young woman, thereby alleging that the shoes resulted in her stress fractures.

Their “technology” includes a soft kinetic wedge insert and rolling bottom to simulate walking on soft sand. Really? That doesn’t look like soft sand to me. Walking in soft sand is very good for the body and will help to develop the muscles of the legs and feet. Walking in over-supportive shoes with inserts and devices to stimulate any motion which is not normal will eventually result in one thing – an injury.

Ward’s attorney, Ronald Johnson, told ABC news, “If they’re going to invent a whole new way for a human being to walk, the very first thing they should do is studies to make sure that’s not going to harm their customers.” These shoes are advertised to help reduce joint stress, tighten abdominal muscles, and strengthen the back. There is little supporting data that any of the toning shoes on the market really work.

Kim Kardashian and her mother, Kris Jenner, have been named the new faces of the brand with a campaign called “Shaping Up With the Kardashians.” Do you really want to get your footwear and exercise advice from a Kardashian?

Read more about Skechers and their bogus claims at Zero-Drop. Click here.

Follow the advice I’ve always given about shoes:

  • Look for a low “drop”  which means not much of a change from the heel to the forefoot (ball) of the shoe
  • Look for a shoe with a wide toe box – so there is plenty of room for your toes to move, especially in kids, whose feet are widest in the toes
  • Think supple – you should be able to move and twist your shoes freely – not just at the ball of the foot like podiatrists recommend, but everywhere – ESPECIALLY throughout the midsole where your arch will sit

Think barefoot and remember shoes are for protection, not performance.

I'm a board certified chiropractic physician and clinical nutritionist with a passion for true natural health care. I implement dietary & nutritional therapies, exercise & movement practices, and lifestyle changes along with manual therapy techniques to help the body heal and prevent illness and injuries.


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  1. Some of us minimalists feel a little protection when running for speed is not such a bad thing — whether it is a race on an unknown course or just the desire to go fast on pavement. A little metatarsal protection goes a long way.

    Though I’m still talking about something like using an insole in an Evo or a racing flat, so still much more minimal than a mainstream shoe.

  2. I have been wearing the Sketcher Shape Ups since August 2010 and thought to praise them but now I have been diagnosed with hip bursitis. Worst investment I have ever made. They need to recall this shoe.

  3. lea permalink

    Friend broke her ankle wearing these “walkers.”
    Beware of any shoe that comes with instructions on how to walk!

  4. Young in Mn permalink

    My father stopped wearing his sketchers in Feb 2011 also because his hips started to hurt. He has been diagnosed with bursitis of the hips too!!! He is in so much pain. The sketchers were the only change to his routine.

  5. jayh permalink

    Been wearing these for over a year. Used to love them, but now I have developed piriformis syndrome – horrible back and leg pain that’s been going on for five months now… Finally the physical therapist said it might be my shoes! Can’t wait for the class action lawsuit to be certified.

  6. Ellen permalink


    I’ve had “rapidly progressing Osteo Arthritis” (due to Medial-Meniscus tear/both knees/work injury…) At this point there is barely any cartilage left (I have NO insurance to have the surgery I need.) Ever since I tried/bought the shoes, I’ve been able to walk/stand all day…straight posture…with NO PAIN (2 YEARS, SO FAR…) I call the shoes my ‘artificial cartilage.” I now have 3 pairs, and they’re ALL I can wear with NO PAIN!

    I also introduced them to one friend who has very bad RA, and couldn’t stand up straight, anymore…AS SOON as she put them on, she was able to walk up-right across the room, WITH NO PAIN!!! To this day, she swears by the “Shape-Ups” allowing her to be ‘normal’…

    My son was in an unfortunate motorcycle accident when he was 19, which left him with brain damage, massive weight-gain and legally blind (only 25% left in 1 eye…) therefore, causing a major balance issue. He has been slowly but surely healing. When he was 21, and I decided to have him try the “Shape-Ups” to see if it could help ‘train’ him on his balancing problem. Not only did the ROCKING of the shoe train him to be more in control of his own body, it also made it easier for him to walk WITHOUT his cane. He now feels a lot more independent, and he takes daily walks, sometimes for hours at a time, which has enabled him to exercise enough to begin working on his weight loss…and best of all, it was for this reason that his healing process has picked up speed!

    I know a 33 year old young lady who has 2 herniated disks (ever since a broken back from a car accident in 2004) and was laid up in bed consistently, due to the pain of the tension and pinching of the Sciatic Nerve…I got her to TRY the “Shape-Ups” and she now is able to live as normal a life as possible (without surgery, due to NO insurance)…she is NOW even 7 1/2 months pregnant, and able to stand on her feet ALL DAY if need be, WITHOUT any ‘back’ discomfort… (being a single parent-to-be, she was able to take on a second job…)

    I have no doubt that the shoes had negative effects on SOME people, but they also had positive effects on others! Every human body is different…

    There are MANY more people (between the ages of 22 and 67) that I played advocate (for Shape-Ups), and I not only heard PRAISE about the shoes, To this day, I haven’t heard ANY complaints, AT ALL! My “Pro-List” alone, can go on and on……What I want to know is…Where has the COMMON SENSE (yet alone, MORALS…) in the human race gone?!

    • I don’t have a problem showing this comment (though you’ll see I had to delete the latter 1/3 where you go off on people being “sue crazy”). You’re describing “benefits” of this over-supportive, gait-altering footwear for people who have some major health concerns going on. You’re not talking about healthy people. What’s happening is that the Shape Ups are acting as a support/brace for their dysfunction, and although for some it gets them relief, they do absolutely nothing to rehabilitate and allow the body to heal. Actually, they will do the opposite, just like someone talking a pain-pill or anti-inflammatory, the Shape Ups support dysfunction.

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