Below is the footprint of an adult with healthy feet, undeformed by conventional footwear. Notice that the widest part of the foot is at the ends of the toes, and notice the excellent toe splay. Most shoe-wearing people have at least some degree of toe deformation caused by years of conventional shoe use.
Your principle foot arch, your medial longitudinal arch, runs from your heel to the ball of your foot. Some physicians and researchers also count your toes as an extension of your foot arch (in fact, your individual toe bones are themselves arch-shaped). A foot arch can be short, medium, or tall and still be healthy. In fact, it's not the height of your arch that matters; it's how the ends of your arch are supported that makes a difference for foot health.
In most cases, your foot arch does not need to be propped up. The products we offer through our site respect the natural design of your foot, and they support the inherent strength and integrity of your foot’s structures.
Unshod (or minimally-shod) populations experience almost none of the common foot problems that shoe-wearing populations do. Our goal at Natural Footgear is to provide you with information and products that help you rehabilitate and restore your foot structures to their natural state, which in turn helps prevent common foot ailments such as bunions, hammertoes, and plantar fasciosis. We want to help you realize your natural foot health heritage. Unshod populations—groups of people who have never worn shoes or who have worn only minimal footwear—exist in many parts of the world, including parts of Africa, Latin America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. The image you see here, above, depicts normal human feet with proper toe alignment and orientation. Most of us living in shod societies have never seen feet like this, which means we have lost the true image of a healthy and functional foot.
The Effects of Prolonged Conventional Shoe Use
Footwear now exists that respects nature's brilliant foot design. This footwear allows you to spread your toes the way nature intended and allows your foot to function like a bare foot inside your shoe. Correct toes, a toe spacing product, is another helpful tool in restoring proper foot and toe health, as it gently realigns your toes to their normal anatomical position. Other natural foot health products that support foot and toe rehabilitation include Injinji toe socks and Pedag metatarsal pads or Strutz foot pads. Conventional footwear possesses several injurious design elements, including toe spring, heel elevation, rigid soles, and (perhaps most significantly) toe box taper. You can see in the picture above that the prolonged use of footwear with tapering toe boxes has changed the foot shape of the boot wearer. This toe orientation—with the big toe diving toward the second toe and almost no space between the toes—is exceedingly common in our society and leads to numerous foot and lower extremity problems.
What Nature Had in Mind
You were born with perfect feet, and nature intended you to enjoy sound foot health throughout your entire lifespan. By removing the impediments to foot health (i.e., conventional footwear) and restoring proper foot and toe structure, you can avoid common foot and lower leg injuries and enjoy lifelong foot health. Walk, run, dance, and play with confidence knowing that your feet are brilliantly designed for these activities—if they are allowed to function the way nature intended.