You were born with perfect feet. When you were born the widest part of your foot was your toes, or forefoot, not the ball of our foot and there was space between your toes. Feet have evolved to be inherently healthy; they are designed to function free of any support or constraints. Unfortunately, modern footwear has evolved to prevent our feet from functioning the way they are intended to.
It is extremely likely that your ailments – bunions, hammer toes, corns, plantar fasciosis (fasciitis), neuromas, shin splints, in-grown toenails, Achilles and other tendonitis’, knee, hip, and back problems, etcetera – would never have developed if it weren’t for those stylish kicks you’re wearing right now. In fact, these issues occur very rarely in cultures where shoes are not worn. Let’s take a look at some of the design flaws that are common in footwear:
Toe tapering the toe box of most shoes forces toes into a triangular shape; this forces our toes into a space much smaller than intended and over time, gives our feet the appearance we have grown accustomed to – with the widest part of our foot being the ball. With our toes crammed into such a small space we sacrifice balance, speed, and stability for style.
Heel lift or the difference in height between the heel and toe of your shoe, is problematic for three reasons: an unnatural strike zone – your heel – when running, which forces your body to absorb a tremendous amount of energy that could be used for forward propulsion, and it creates muscle length imbalances. Constant heel elevation promotes the elongation of the muscles on the front of your legs and the shortening of muscles on the back of your legs, which can apply unnatural forces on your bones, ligaments, and tendons, which may lead to injuries and the flattening of your arch.
Toe spring is the term used to describe the elevation of the toebox (the part of your shoe that houses your toes) of shoes. This elevation creates an imbalance between the tendons on the top and on the bottom of each of our toes. We rely on these tendons to pull equally for proper alignment and function both at rest and in motion. Toe spring keeps our toes unnaturally elevated throughout the day and is the main culprit behind corked toes, or hammertoes.
Arches, in nature and in architecture, function to support weight over an open space by providing support on either end of that weight. Why then does that change when it comes to our feet? True arch support would mean allowing the heel and the toes enough space to lie flat on the ground. This allows the muscles within our feet to carry the load they were created to carry.
For help resolving these conditions without surgery consider searching for a practitioner that is well versed in natural foot health. The same treatments that restore natural foot function also increase athletic performance, decrease injuries, improve strength and flexibility, and enhance balance and stability.
Author: Brian Myers, ND