If you were to expose the shape of your foot inside a traditional shoe, you’d probably be a bit shocked at what you saw: toes squished into an unnaturally pointed shape.
This is because the tapered toe box of conventional shoes pushes our toes together, causing bunions, hammer toes, and other foot problems, all in the name of fashion, or what we like to call the toe box torture chamber.
Shoes with a wide toe box, however, provide ample space for the toes to splay within the shoe. This is the natural shape of the foot.
Why do we care about this so much?
Well, because Lems care about the health of your feet. Lems was founded to better our health from the feet up. As modern humans, we need to wear shoes, and we can wear better shoes that take us back to a more natural state of life and don’t cause damage and pain to our feet.
What happens to our feet in traditional shoes
Straight from the womb, we are born with perfectly-shaped feet, with a broad base and toes that splay wide. When we hit the age of four or five, shoes start to become tapered in the toe box and narrow at the heel.
Aesthetics and style have evolved shoes in such a way that they actually cause damage to our feet by forcing the foot into unnatural positions. Narrow toes and high heels are exceptionally bad for our feet.
They force our feet into a crunched position that causes our toes to compress and curl. As a result:
- We develop deformities like bunions and hammer toes
- We have weakness and atrophy in the feet
- Mobility becomes diminished
- Toes lose the ability to move independently, limiting range of motion
- Arches cannot absorb shock of impact
- Affect posture, balance, and gait
- Leaves feet reliant on footwear to “correct” problems caused by conventional shoes
Why you should care about wide toe boxes
Our feet are meant to move like they do in their natural state— barefoot and free. Shoeless societies have shown fewer foot problems than societies that wear ill-fitting shoes.
Scientific studies have demonstrated that the biomechanics of the human foot. From heel to toe, feet are meant to be close to the ground with the toes splayed, for two key reasons:
A barefoot stance creates a wide base for our feet to support a naturally aligned spine, and therefore proper walking and running form.
The second is that only in their most naked, close-to-the-earth state can feet benefit from natural proprioception. What this means is that the bones, muscles, and tendons of the foot can send critical signals to the brain about how to perform.
Advantages of wearing shoes with a wide toe box
If we haven’t made it clear already, wearing shoes with a wide toe box will eliminate the majority of the foot problems we experience. The simple swap means better foot health, increased athletic performance, and much less pain!
How many times have ended an evening or long day out with you complaining about how much pain your feet are in? Women who wear heels are especially reeling in pain after a day with their feet in an elevated position.
A wide toe box lets your foot spread out and rest in its natural state.
Allowing the feet to revert back to their natural shape will result in fewer injuries over time. This is because the muscles will be able to rebuild and perform as they were intended to do so from birth.
Our feet take a lot of beating with every step, and when they are weak, it makes us more injury-prone. Improper footwear is linked to injuries like:
- Bunions and hammer toes
- Shin splints
- Plantar fasciitis
The list goes on. When you think about it, we rely on our feet for just about everything we do. If you’ve ever had a foot injury, then you realise how important the feet are!
With the feet in a more natural shape, your entire body will be in better alignment. The problems caused by conventional shoes force us to rely on the same shoes to “correct” the problems caused by those very shoes!
This means that we are training our bodies to adapt to the improper alignment caused by traditional footwear. This results in injuries and discomfort throughout our musculoskeletal system and is often responsible for injuries in the calves, knees, hips, and back.
Depending on the severity of damage already done on your foot, you may find that you need to be more proactive about rehabilitating your feet. In addition to wearing shoes with a wide toe box, this could mean:
- Wearing Correct Toes regularly
- Performing foot strengthening exercises
- Transitioning slowly to foot-shaped shoes
- Switching to Injinji toe socks
Improved Mobility and Balance
In their proper alignment, the feet will perform as they are meant to. This means that you’ll have better balance in general, and especially so on uneven surfaces, like trails. Moreover, improved balance means enhanced ankle strength and fewer falls.
Today’s narrow shoes continue to add to the deformation of the human foot, whether we know it or not, and whether we want to accept it or not. Lems aims to stop this trend in its tracks. All of their shoes and boots are designed with a wider than average toe box to allow the forefoot to spread and the toes to wiggle as wide as they’d like.