Chung Shi shoes are designed with a roll bar in the sole to enforce a greater range of motion in heel-to-toe walking, which exercises and tones more muscles. They are built to be deep enough for inserts or orthotics and to provide both cushioning and support. Chung Shi shoes come in a variety of designs including sports shoes, dress shoes and sandals. I received a pair of their classic Sky Balance walking shoes, which can be used as part of a Balance Walking program.
Chung Shi Shoes Toning Shoe Design
The designers of Chung Shi shoes include pedorthists who were looking for the perfect rocker-bottom toning shoe. I spoke with Ray Margiano of Foot Solutions about the Chung Shi design. He said that as the market has exploded for toning shoes, many don’t really deliver the support or balance needed for a walking program. They have their own research group and visited facilities around the world to see their technology.
The Chung Shi shoes are built for fit, comfort, and extra depth for using inserts or orthotics if needed. The shoes aim to alleviate back, hip and ankle pain and to achieve better body alignment while walking. The toning and weight loss effects are a secondary result.
Trying Out Chung Shi Balance Walking Shoes
The Chung Shi Sky Balance design is, at first glance, much like the MBT or Skechers rocker-bottom shoe designs. They are a pretty heavy shoe, which is something I try to avoid. As with most toning shoes, they do not have a flexible sole. Other designs of Chung Shi have a more moderate-weight sole and less aggressive rocker bottom.
The fit felt great for my wide foot, I had no problems with the shape or comfort. But you need to take care while getting used to the rocker bottom, especially when using stairs or stepping off a curb.
Taking a walk around the neighborhood, I could really feel how the shoes make the legs go through a fuller range of motion in heel-to-toe walking. I spent the recommended 10-15 minutes in them and felt the difference in my leg muscles the next day. These shoes definitely deliver an additional toning effect.
I felt good foot support with these shoes. I tend to avoid shoes with built-in arch support, and at first the roll bar under the arch felt like it might be an issue. But this proved to be no problem at all for comfort. This makes sense because the shoes are designed to work with inserts and orthotics rather than substitute for them.
Take It Slow With Toning Shoes
When using any style or brand of toning shoes, it is critical to slowly build up your time wearing the shoes in order to prevent muscle pain or even injury. All manufacturers provide that warning. If you decide to buy the Chung Shi shoes, wear them only for 10 to 15 minutes the first day, just around the house. Then ease into any workouts with them for only 10 to 15 minutes and slowly add more time in the shoes. Build up you time by no more than five minutes a day.
If you experience any unusual pain other than mild muscle soreness, stop using the shoes.
It is best to buy toning shoes from a retailer that has a generous return policy, so you can return them if you experience any problems with the fit or performance of the shoe. Wear them inside until you are sure you won’t need to return them.
Balance Walking Program
Foot Solutions has created a Balance Walking Program that uses fitness walking poles along with Chung Shi shoes or other toning or fitness shoes. The combination of nordic walking with poles and the toning shoes can provide a very good daily walking workout that challenges more muscles and burns more calories per mile.
Coaches are trained in the nordic walking technique and they in turn can train walkers to use the poles properly and for the best results. The Chung Shi shoes come with a short video explaining how to get started with the nordic walking technique. But I have observed that few people do it correctly without some live coaching. Foot Solutions stores are encouraged to have a Balance Walking coach available, and some have regular walking groups. Unfortunately, none of their stores in my vicinity had this option.
The combination of toning shoes and walking poles is one that makes sense. While I prefer to enjoy nordic walking with my regular athletic shoes, I can see that those who want the toning shoe effects can get the further benefit of nordic walking for upper body exercise as well.