Specialty footwear unfurled to keep up with walking crazeGrowing interest among Koreans in walking as a sport has prompted an increase in all sorts of walking-related products.
Walking poles, special walking shoes and so-called “diet shoes” have been landing in store displays and online malls recently.
In what is known as Nordic walking, enthusiasts hold a pole resembling a ski pole in each hand as they stride along. This activity ― which began to spread in the United States in the late 1980s under the moniker “exerstriding” ― is derived from cross-country skiing, which usually takes place on flat or gently sloping terrain.
This activity involves not just walking but also swinging one’s hands, thus working out the entire body. According to experts, the sport consumes anywhere from 25 to 75 percent more calories than ordinary walking. A set of walking poles and an instructional video costs around 78,000 won ($67) at most sporting goods retailers.
Some styles of walking shoes were developed after studying the manner in which East Africa’s Masai people walked. These shoes are designed to reinforce a style in which the heel touches the ground first, followed by the little toes and big toe, a form that is known to minimize shock to the spine as well as knees and other joints. The sole of these shoes is twice as thick as those of regular shoes and has a round shape.
Masai walking shoes also have the effect of straightening the spine, and are considered therapeutic for those suffering from arthritis. The shoes are priced at 290,000 won per pair.
Let’s not forget diet shoes. The heels of this footwear are angled at 15 degrees, which forces the weight on the toes and the center of the foot. Diet shoes are supposed to enhance stomach and thigh muscles, according to Lumbinistar, the manufacturer. They are priced at 135,000 won a pair.
by Park Hye-min
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