accessibility mode: off

Wide Toe Box Shoes are Pivotal to Foot Health

If you were to cut a traditional shoe in half lengthwise you wouldn’t like what it exposes - squished toes. Shoes have evolved in such a way as to force the human foot into unnatural positions, whether that’s a high heel or a narrow toe. Both are exceptionally bad for our feet, but today we’re going to focus on the latter: the toe box torture chamber.

Shoes meant to slim the look of the foot for perceived cultural acceptance are doing serious harm to the wearer over time. Why? Well, toes aren’t meant to crunch together. They’re designed to move like they did with cavemen and cavewomen - barefoot and free. And that means in their most “natural” state, feet and toes are desperate to spread apart, not smash together.

Science has already explained the biomechanics behind the human foot. From heel to toe, feet are meant to be close to the ground and toes splayed, for two key reasons.

The first is that this 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 feet in their most naked, close-to-the-earth state can benefit from natural proprioception. That's a scientific term for the critical signals that all those bones, muscles, tendons and attachments in our body (in this case our feet) are designed to send to the brain.

Why do we care about this so much? Well, because at Lems we care about the comfort of your feet. Our company was founded to better our health from the feet up. As modern humans we need to wear shoes, but we can wear better shoes that take us back to a more natural state of life. 


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 our 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.

Here are a few more important reasons you should know:


Shoes with narrow toe boxes can force feet into unnatural patterns that can lead directly to some of today’s most common foot ailments, including bunions, hammer toes, neuromas, plantar fasciitis and general numbness.


Speaking of that, many aches and pains people experience in the calves, knees, hips and lower back may be attributed to what their shoes are forcing them to do. If our back hurts, we think we pulled it. If our knees ache, we think we overdid it at the gym. But what if our pointed shoes are partly to blame?


When traditional narrow designs are applied to shoes meant for high-impact or repetitive motions such as walking or running, it only amplifies the pain we experience from our feet up. The constant pressure on our feet and toes causes extra strain, rather than freeing our feet and granting them the space they deserve to strengthen on their own.


Moving from traditional shoes to natural foot shaped shoes can take some transition time. Your feet have to do the hard work, and those muscles need some retraining. Give yourself time to transition, but we warn you: you might never go back.

Additional Articles

The Cause and Correction of Bunions

Long-term use of narrow shoes has lasting consequences on the foot’s functional anatomy and are legitimately tied to bunion formation - a painful bony bump that develops at the big toe joint. While many believe bunions are inherited, research backing this belief is uncertain. More firmly established research provides evidence that narrow shoes, especially on feet that are still growing, is the root cause of bunions.

What Makes a Good Minimalist Shoe

For positive results in building a healthier, more functionally strong and enduring foot long-term, you have to get your feet working on their own, independent of external support. This includes arch support, wedge inserts and motion stabilizers, components of which make up most traditional running shoes. What’s most problematic about these structural reinforcements is that they silence muscle activity and engagement in the feet, wearing down foot strength over time, which is an inescapable fact.
Continue Shopping
You just added:
Cart Subtotal: