Rolling Out A New Market
How many times have surprising fads taken hold of our consumer imaginations, only to be later proven ineffective or dangerous? Darvon and Darvocet were just recently pulled from the shelves due to side effects, even though their active ingredient has been used since the 1950s! Infant sleep positioners were supposed to save lives by preventing the baby from rolling onto its stomach, yet ended up suffocating babies to death. There are any number of fad diets which promise weight loss and instead deliver nutritional imbalances and metabolic disruptions.
Who touted the supposed benefits of all these products? Marketers, of course. It's their job to convince us that our lives have been incomplete without their product. We usually fail to understand that these marketers don't have our best interest at heart. The makers of Darvon, infant sleep positioners, and fad diets are just entrepreneurs. My guess is that if they weren't making money selling those items, they'd be making money selling something else. They don't sell these products because you need them, they sell these products because they need them.
This brings me to the new fad of rocking-chair-sneakers. I know many people swear by these shoes, and I readily admit that I haven't worn a pair yet. I do not criticize the shoes themselves, nor the people who buy them; I would simply like to shine a spotlight on modern "health" marketing.
Skechers and their many imitators have produced a new kind of shoe that is supposed to effortlessly tone your gluteals and thighs. They promise that if you wear their shoes, your rear end will look just like Jennifer Lopez's or Beyonce's just by walking around normally, no gym membership necessary. They even market the product by saying that wearing their shoes is just like walking barefoot, so, really, it's good for you.
My question is: why not just walk barefoot?
Putting aside the impracticality of walking barefoot in a Peoria winter, the snarky question still stands. Why should I buy a $100 product when I could get the same effect by spending nothing? That bizarre thick-rounded sole is supposed to imitate a natural walking motion on uneven ground? Is this expensive product really better for you than any other shoe?
The human body is extraordinarily adapted (or designed, depending on your view) to function in this world and environment. The human foot is a remarkable structure: this relatively small structure supports your entire body weight, connected to the rest of the body by a complex hinge joint in the ankle. The foot is lightweight, sturdy, and perfectly balanced. The perpendicular arches on the bottom of your foot are mindblowingly perfect structures to distribute impact on rocky earth. In fact, the human foot is not adapted or designed to wear shoes or walk on perfectly flat floors. It functions best when uninterfered with. It's when shoes are introduced to the human foot that ankle problems, knee problems, and hip problems begin to emerge, especially high heels, the bane of bipedal existence.
Call me skeptical. I tend to raise my eyebrows when unnecessary products promise perfect results without added effort. For example, you should run (not walk) away from any diet that promises to work without exercise. You should run away from any exercise program that ignores diet. I have a hard time thinking that muscles will be well toned without actually getting exercise. Even more, I worry about the long-term impact of changing the biomechanics of foot-fall on the ankles, knees, hips, and low back.
Some people truly think these shoes are wonderful. My point is simply that there are three strikes against the marketing of this product: 1) it takes the unnaturality of footwear to new levels; 2) there are possible negative future health effects; and 3) if it sounds too good to be true...
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Unless otherwise attributed, all content is written by Kyle Johnson, DC, of Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria.
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