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Why You Need to Ditch the Tapered Toe Box and Wear a Foot-Shaped Shoe

Natural, foot-shaped shoes are tough to come by. Most shoes come to a point at the tip, forcing the toes into a triangular shape that compromises our balance, strength, and overall foot health. 

All in the name of fashion.

Even podiatrists often glaze over shoes as the cause of our foot problems. They choose to correct, rather than address the actual issue, which is that our toes are being forced into an unnatural shape.

Lems are specifically designed with the natural shape of the foot in mind. By mirroring the foot’s natural shape, the entire body benefits in a multitude of ways. 

Traditional Tapered Shoes Cause Problems

The tapered toe boxes of traditional shoes force the toes together into a pointed shape, driving the big toe inward, leaving little space between individual toes. Further, the tips of the shoe are curled upward, to offer “toe spring.”

Toe spring trains the plantar fat pads, located on the ball of the foot, to move toward the end of the toes. This displacement weakens the nerves, joints, and bones in the foot, which can lead to stress fractures, neuromas, and capsulitis.

This unnatural shape of our feet force the body to compensate, leading to injuries, inefficiencies, and instability. 

Problems caused by tapered toe boxes include:

  • Bunions
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Corns
  • Hammertoes
  • Fungal issues
  • Blisters
  • Deformed toes
  • Back and leg pain
  • Altered gait

The toes are essential for balance. When they are unable to grasp the ground as nature intended, they cannot propel us forward efficiently, nor can they take the load from the force of landing.

Why Natural Foot-Shaped Shoes are Essential to Foot Health

Our feet are naturally flat and the toes do not come to a point, despite what typical footwear design demonstrates. The majority of shoes force our feet into these positions, which reshape our feet, leading to discomfort, and lead to injuries. 

Traditional shoes squish the toes together and lift them up, reducing the surface area for impact. 

The ideal shoe will have optimal space for the toes to splay. Ample room creates a wider surface and thus improved balance and protection of muscles, joints, and ligaments caused by the force of impact from landing with force.

Coupled with the excess cushioning and stiff soles, traditional shoes are not designed to actually retain the natural foot shape. 

Instead, look for a minimalist shoe with zero-drop that least manipulates the natural position of your foot. The toes should be able to spread out in the toe box as though you weren’t wearing shoes at all. 

When the feet are flat, and in a position that more closely mimics barefoot walking, the foot is able to use its muscles to support the body, thus strengthening the foot and creating more flexibility. 

Allowing splay space for the toes will:

  • Improve balance
  • Promote agility
  • Alleviate common toe issues like bunions
  • Increase circulation
  • Lower risk of injury

Transitioning to foot-shaped shoes will allow the plantar fat pads to regress to their natural state, restoring foot strength and discourage heel strike.

Lems shoes offer a natural shape that provides enough room so that your toes can sit organically within the shoe. This contributes to a quicker recovery time, while also strengthens tendons and muscles.

Shoeless Societies Have Few Foot Problems

Societies and individuals who walk around barefoot or in minimal shoes rarely experience the same foot problems that shod (foot-wearing) populations do. 

There are plenty of other non-shoe wearing populations throughout the world. If you’re a runner, you’ve no doubt heard about the Tarahumara in Mexico who run in sandals. 

If you look at a newborn’s feet, they are shaped naturally, with wide, splayed toes and a more rectangular shape. Our feet remain this way until we place them into shoes with narrow toe boxes, reshaping our feet as children.

Fashion has dictated the shape of our feet, causing us unnecessary pain and discomfort. We don’t mean to brag, but we think that our foot-shaped shoes are plenty good for the runway!

Ease into Wearing Foot-Shaped Shoes

If you’ve never worn a natural, or foot-shaped shoe before, they will take some getting used to. Expect them to feel differently from the shoes you’re used to wearing and know that you will likely experience soreness in the foot as your muscles get back to work. 

As with anything new, it’s important to give your body time to adjust to wearing them. 

We’re pretty confident that once you go natural, you’ll never want anything else on your feet again.

Please note: Some of our styles are wider than others. Please visit our sizing page for more detailed information on each style.

Additional Articles

Understanding Plantar Fasciitis and Its Treatments

Plantar fasciitis is an overuse injury that affects the bottom of the foot and is one of the most common causes of heel pain. When the long band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot (the fascia) is overstretched, tiny tears can create inflammation, leading to a painful condition.

Are Zero-Drop Shoes Right For You?

If you’ve been hearing about ‘minimalist’ or ‘zero drop’ shoes and you’re interested in dipping your toes in the barefoot pond but don’t know where to start, you’re in the right place. Transitioning to zero drop is fairly simple, but like anything, it’s important that it’s done correctly. If not done correctly, transitioning to zero drop can cause more harm than good when it comes to the health of your foot. But first, let’s figure out if zero drop is right for you.
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