Dr Feelgood: Should you buy anti-flab boots?
Sunday 04 January 2009
Under the microscope: FitFlop Billow boots £86.25 (tel: 0800 3898 195, www.victoriahealth.com)
In theory: Flab-fighting footwear – such as MBTs and the original FitFlop – has been around for a little while now, promising a work-out for the muscles in your legs and core as you walk. While wearers swear by the benefits – better posture, toned legs, even relief from back pain – many are still put off by the dowdiness of the shoes. FitFlop's latest stab at improving the style of its footwear is the Billow – a sheepskin boot not unlike an Ugg – that features the same micro-wobbleboard technology as its summer flip-flops.
In practice: Dr F was prepared for the worst as she cracked open her box-fresh boots and they were indeed pretty horrid – like the kind of slipper-boot worn by your grandmother. Slip them on, though, and they are very, very comfortable... so comfortable, in fact, that any worry about style melts slowly away. Springy-soled and fleecy inside, they made Dr F's feet feel like they were in heaven after years of ballet-pump hell, and the wearying effect of the extra work your legs are doing is noticeable only after a full day in them.
Observations: Dr F's automatic greeting to friends and strangers suddenly became, "Look, I know these shoes are horrible, but..." In terms of their health benefits, her creaky knees and achy back both felt decidedly less so after a couple of weeks. A Kylie-esque bottom has yet to be achieved, but Dr F's calf muscles are unquestionably more defined.
Analysis: If you have flexible sartorial principles, it is very hard to renounce the comfort of these shoes once you've tried them. And in an era when most footwear – from killer heels to pancake flats – is pretty terrible for the feet, it's surely no bad thing to give yourself some time off.
Prescription: Save your stylish self – don't buy these shoes! It's too late for Doctor F, but it doesn't have to be that way for you. Of course, if you don't think it's a bad thing to favour comfort and fitness over vanity, go ahead and invest.
Further experiments: If the party season has been hard on your feet, chiropody guru Margaret Dabb's range is what you need – try the award-winning Intensive Hydrating Foot Lotion (£25, www.margaretdabbs.co.uk).
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