Skechers proposing $40 million to settle class action

According to Big Class Action, Skechers have proposed to settle the class action for $40 million.

A $40 million settlement has been proposed in a consumer fraud class action lawsuit pending against toning shoe manufacturer Skechers U.S.A.

Entitled Grabowski v. Skechers U.S.A., Inc., No. 3:12-cv-00204 (W.D. Ky.), the lawsuit concerns claims that Skechers violated certain state laws and consumer protection statutes in connection with the marketing and sale of its toning shoes. Skechers denies those allegations.

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    Internet Interest in Toning Shoes

    I have just been looking at Google trends to see what interest there is in toning shoes. There has been a big decline in the number of people searching for ‘toning shoes’ at Google since a peak in December2011:

    According to Google Adwords tools, there are 12 000 searches each month for ‘toning shoes’.

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    Spine kinematics and trunk muscle activity using unstable footwear

    This study from researchers at the University of Salzburg in Austria that looked at spinal alignment and muscle activity of selected muscles in the back while standing in typical shoes and MBT shoes.

    The main findings were:

    Results showed that wearing unstable MBT shoes increased flexion at the mid-thoracic level (0.8°; P = 0.001) and led to greater mean velocities of angular displacement at the thoracolumbar (11.2%; P = 0.003) and at the lumbopelvic (10.8%; P = 0.02) regions, accompanied by more lumbar erector spinae activity (18.2%; P = 0.003).

    Evaluation: – this was done during standing and not walking – it does confirm that there are changes in the low back, spine and muscle activity with the use of unstable or toning shoes

    While adding to the body of knowledge on the biomechanical effects of toning shoes, more work is needed to determine the actual ‘clinical’ effects of those changes.

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    Toning Shoes for Children

    This is certainly a controversial area. Skechers did target an advertising campaign in 2011 aimed at girls which did anger some parent groups and advertising industry groups. The shoes and their promotion were targeted at age 7 and up. The campaign used slim cartoon characters as a girl band and run on the Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon:

    There was a change.org petition asking Skechers to stop marketing the shoes:

    The commercial in question features a band of thin girls singing about their shoes, and being followed around by surly looking boys dressed like ice cream, burgers, and other “junk” foods. Women have plenty of time to be targeted for their weight throughout their lives. By not only marketing a shoe line to young girls, but also not even having…

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    Do Toning Shoes Interfere with the Windlass Mechanism of the Foot?

    The windlass mechanism of the foot is an extremely important element in the normal functioning of the foot. It is the foots own natural arch supporting mechanism. The windlass mechanism consists of the plantar aponeurosis or plantar fascia. This powerful ligament attaches to the bottom of the heel bone and to the bases of the toes, so straddles the arch of the foot. During gait, when the heel comes off the ground, the toes flex, pulling on the plantar fascia and winding it around the metatarsal head (the ‘windlass’). This tightens the plantar fascia and supports the arch naturally. There are a number of different dysfunctions of the plantar fascia that can affect the windlass mechanism (see this).

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PF-PlantarMove.jpg

    What impact do toning shoes have on this windlass mechanism? Quite frankly, they actually interfere with it. As most of…

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