Pointed or narrow shoes and high heels have been known to be uncomfortably fashionable for centuries. The popularity of these status symbols has created a societal norm for our modern-day footwear. Unfortunately, this desire to have small narrow feet has left us with foot deformities and dysfunctions that can cause problems throughout our entire body.
These problems often originate from our big toe, as wearing shoes with narrow toe boxes profoundly affects this essential joint. Thankfully, in recent decades, shoe manufacturers have taken a more biomechanical approach to developing footwear shaped like our natural feet. These foot-shaped shoes have a wider toe box allowing our toes to splay so they can function as intended.
Here are four reasons why you should consider wearing foot-shaped shoes:
Better arch muscle activation for stronger feet
When your big toe is free to rest comfortably in your shoe, it can be aligned straighter, allowing you to roll off the center of it when you walk. This more neutral position of your toe better activates your arch muscles, providing greater stability and control when walking or doing all the things you love.
Your feet play an integral role in your balance. Allowing your toes to splay or widen naturally in your shoes provides greater surface area and better muscle activation resulting in improved balance control.
In addition, many foot-shaped shoes offer a minimalist sole enabling your feet to better sense the ground. Your feet contain 1000's of nerve endings to give your brain and body critical information about your environment. This improved sensation helps your brain understand how to adapt your body to control your balance better.
Less hip and knee pain
Your entire body adapts if your big toe joint is angled inward and unable to effectively push off while walking. Specifically, your arch muscles are unable to activate fully. Therefore, it collapses, causing your tibia (lower leg bone) to rotate inward. This tibia is the lower part of your knee, creating stress on your knee joint.
In addition, several studies have shown that foot muscle weakness correlates with painful hips. This, again, is related to the ripple effect of overcompensations of the various joints and tissues from your foot to your hip.
Greater power with higher-level activities
Natural foot alignment and function give your entire body greater power to push off when doing higher-level activities like running or jumping. When your body can better utilize all of these muscles as intended without compensating, you have greater and more efficient control. Your body is less taxed and better able to perform.
If you liked what you read and want more information on caring for your feet, meet Stacey at our local Manitowoc Two Rivers YMCA during THIS EVENT. Can't make it, or has the date already passed? Click HERE for access to her Foot Mobility & Foot Strength exercise playlists.