Babies’ feet are designed to provide balance and stability. With a broad sole and splayed toes, feet form our foundation.
In our society, foot shape and function change as we age. As feet are exposed to conventional footwear, toes compress and curl. Rigid footwear and arch support diminish muscle activation and toe range of motion, causing weakness and atrophy in the foot. With the long-term use of restrictive footwear, our once dexterous and mobile toes lose their ability to move independently. In cultures around the world who remain barefoot or minimally shod, toes maintain natural shape and splay, and foot and toe strength and dexterity is preserved through adulthood and into old age.
A Perfect Design
Strength and mobility are key features in achieving overall musculoskeletal health. Unfortunately, because of footwear design, the foot is often prevented from achieving its full potential. With 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, the human foot is extraordinary in its complexity. Three arches span the heel and forefoot. Like a powerful spring, these arches are designed to flex, rebound and absorb shock in order to decrease impact
forces on joints higher up in the body. With long-term exposure to conventional shoes, our feet weaken, our toes deform and our muscles shorten and atrophy. Footwear continually forces foot arches to perform in unnatural ways, altering gait, posture and balance. This leaves our feet dependent on footwear that is structured, cushioned and supportive. But, thankfully, foot-healthy shoes now exist that allow the foot to function as nature intended.