We often hear the merits of supportive footwear, however the reality is that our feet are flexible and therefore we should be wearing flexible shoes for optimum foot health and improved posture.
Stiff shoes with tapered toe boxes and elevated heels essentially force the muscles of the foot into unnatural positions that can lead to injuries, weaken muscles, and affect performance. More flexible shoes, like those we design at Lems, allow the foot muscles to work as they are intended, providing more stability and balance.
Learn more about the benefits of wearing flexible shoes and how they can provide superior support than a conventional shoe to keep your feet feeling their best.
Benefits of Wearing Flexible Shoes
Wearing improper footwear long term can lead to poor posture and musculoskeletal health, injuries, and foot health issues, like bunions, plantar fasciitis, or hammer toes.
Traditional footwear tapers at the front of the foot, which squishes the toes together and elevates the heel, which pushes the toes into the tip of the shoe. Making the switch to more flexible, minimalist shoes can do a lot to improve foot health by building the foot muscles and restoring proper alignment over time.
Because traditional footwear elevates the heel and has a higher stack height, it can cause unnatural movement and improper foot landing, which can lead to improper posture. In addition to leveling your feet, minimalist shoes offer wide toe boxes that allow the toes to splay naturally and are designed with flexible insoles that help rebuild foot strength.
A more flexible sole may seem counterintuitive, however, the more pliable footbed does not restrict the foot's natural movement and allows for full range of motion not only the feet, but the hips, knees, ankles, and pelvis as well.
Stronger Foot Muscles
When we wear shoes designed to correct overpronation or provide arch support, they are actually reinforcing the problem rather than providing a solution.
In contrast, flexible shoes allow the foot muscles to work as intended, which builds a stronger stability system that improves posture, balance and performance during activities.
A foot supported by an artificial arch learns to rely on the support from the shoe opposed to the muscles in the foot. Over time, the muscles become weakened and they lose elasticity, balance, and lead to injuries and foot deformities as mentioned above.
Features to Look for in Flexible Shoes
Flexible shoes don’t provide support in the same way that traditional shoes do, rather they help the foot develop the necessary muscles to provide support. In fact, shoes with arch support can actually weaken the foot.
When the foot develops the appropriate muscles, they maintain proper alignment throughout each step.
Drop refers to the difference between the height of the heel from that of the front of the shoe. For example, a zero drop shoe has no difference between the height of the heel to the front. Our Trailhead, for example, has a drop of 4mm, which means that the heel rises 4mm above the front of the shoe.
Conventional footwear has a more dramatic difference in the drop, with a typical drop of 10mm or more.
Breathable materials are important to help wick sweat from the feet and keep them cool and dry during wear. Lems uses a variety of breathable materials like mesh knit uppers and microsuede. Not only do the right materials allow for more airflow during activity, but they also keep the shoe lightweight and more flexible.
High quality materials with strong construction give you the necessary durability to handle rough terrain and ensure you don’t have to replace your shoes as frequently. At Lems, we take our materials research seriously and strive to produce durable shoes that don’t compromise on quality, weight, or performance.
Most of our shoes have EVA or IBR rubber midsoles for optimal flexibility and comfort, waterproof membrane, microsuede, and air mesh.
Find the Perfect Fit and Size
It's important to find shoes that fit properly if you want the full benefits of flexible shoes. Many people do not wear the right size shoe. When you go to try on shoes, test multiple sizes and models until you find the right fit. Look for a wide toe box with enough space for the toes to move, and make sure that the heel fits snugly without rubbing against your ankle.