Healthy footwear allows your foot to function like a bare foot inside your shoe. Most conventional footwear, however, from dress shoes to work boots to running shoes, includes at least four problematic design features that either deform your feet over time or cause foot and lower extremity injuries, or both. Shoe design problems to watch for include:
Heel elevation—the elevation of your rearfoot above your forefoot—is a ubiquitous shoe design feature, and it causes you to develop contracted and shortened posterior leg muscles and tendons. Heel elevation impairs normal gait and propulsion and strips your foot of its natural arch support.
Tapering Toe Boxes
Tapering toe boxes are the leading cause of toe and forefoot deformity in adults. A tapering toe box leads to numerous musculoskeletal problems, including bunionettes, bunions, crooked toes, hallux limitus and rigidus, hammertoes, ingrown toenails, knee osteoarthritis, neuromas, plantar fasciosis, runner's knee, sesamoiditis, and shin splints. Most conventional shoes are widest at the ball of the foot, not at the ends of the toes (where you need the width the most), and even many minimalist shoes still include this deleterious design feature.
Toe spring is another common shoe design flaw and deforming feature in conventional footwear. Toe spring enables tendon imbalances in your foot that lead to crooked toes and other foot ailments. Toe spring, like the other design features discussed here, is both needless and harmful. You can remove toe spring from most shoes (at least to some degree) by folding the shoe in half (with the sole of the forefoot touching the sole of the heel) and placing the shoe under a heavy object, such as a bookshelf, for 24 to 48 hours.
Rigid, Inflexible Soles
Most conventional shoes include rigid, inflexible soles that are thought by many to enhance foot function. However, rigid, inflexible soles, like arch support, actually prevent the natural—and necessary—flattening of your arch during gait. Rigid soles also reduce the tactile feedback between the foot and the ground and can increase the likelihood of an errant (and injurious) footfall.
Arch support, pronation control, and other similar footwear “technologies” are detrimental to your foot health and should be avoided. All products carried by Natural Footgear support your foot health, respect the inherently brilliant design of your foot, and help restore your natural foot form and function.