6 Reasons Wide Toe Box Shoes Improve Gait, Posture and Foot Health

6 Reasons Wide Toe Box Shoes Improve Gait, Posture and Foot Health

A fossil footprint

A 23,000 year old message! A fossil footprint, unearthed at White Sands National Park in New Mexico. Image credit: NPS.gov


23,000 year-old footprints were recently discovered in New Mexico, revealing what a normal and healthy foot shape would’ve looked like, and probably what our foot shape and print should look like too. While those of our ancestors appear to be much wider in the toe, the modern human foot has been confined by aesthetically accepted “pointy” shoes. In short, our actual feet have become shoe shaped and are no longer foot shaped.


Why Traditional Shoes Negatively Impact Your Feet

A modern shoe shaped foot is a foot that doesn't fan, and has the toes scrunched together with little to no wiggle room. Toes that are forcefully tapered end up losing function which may affect stability, gait, posture and eventually lead to bunions, hammertoes, and pain.


toddlers foot

A Toddler’s foot is narrowest at the heel and widest at the tip of toes. Yours should be too.


Perhaps the best living example of an optimal foot shape that has yet to be misshapen by modern tapered shoes is that of a toddler’s foot. you'll notice that its widest area is at the tip of the toes.

The natural human foot, that has not been confined by modern shoes typically has a wide forefoot that is broad and flat with toes that fan out and splay. This is similar to the way your fingers fan when spread, which makes a lot of sense as the toes are meant to provide grip and stability when walking. More spread means more stability, plain and simple.

The modern human foot, one that has been confined by tapered “pointy” shoes, has become shoe shaped instead of foot shaped, but why is this so bad?

Forcing our feet into unnatural positions causes our toes to scrunch together and curl, leading to:

  • Lost foot mobility
  • Limited foot range of motion
  • Foot muscles atrophied and weakened
  • Diminished arches and lost shock absorption capacity
  • Negatively affected gait, balance, and posture
  • Development of bunions, hammertoes, and pain
  • Becoming dependent on “corrective” footwear

    shoe outline vs foot outline

    Take your favorite shoe, outline it over the outline of your bare foot. If you see something similar to this photo, you’re probably wearing the wrong shoes.


    6 Reasons You Should Switch To Wide Toe Box Shoes

    Our feet are meant to move freely, not crammed into what the fashion industry has dubbed aesthetically pleasing footwear.  We should be able to receive sensory input from the ground, the way our feet were meant to interact with the earth beneath our toes. Your toes need room to wiggle and grip and your soles need the ability to feel the surface you’re walking on. Anything but this is meant to confine and desensitize.

    Wide shoes that you can find at shoe stores usually mean that they are wide at the ball of the foot, however, to have healthy feet the widest part of the shoe needs to be at the ends of the toes.


    Wearing shoes with a wide toe box will have the following effects:

    1. Improved balance, and mobility

    2. Proper alignment which improves body posture and reduces reliance on corrective footwear like arch support and cushion

    3. Fewer injuries due to stronger foot muscles and more stability

    4. Improved comfort with more room for your toes to wiggle and spread

    5. Enhanced gait, balance and posture

    6. Improving foot conditions and deformities like bunions and hammertoes


      pointy shoe vs wide toe box shoe


      When pointy, toe-crumpling shoes are all we know, it may come as a shock to find that comfortable, healthy, naturally shaped shoes are out there! Yes, they may look a bit odd initially, but once you get used to the shape you may never wear regular tapered unhealthy shoes again.


      Upgrade Your Foot Health with Groundz Footwear

      All of our men's and women's shoes are designed with natural materials and feature grounding technology. The wide toe boxes are engineered for comfort and grip with flexible zero-drop soles for stability and natural movement.

      When considering your next pair of shoes, opt for a truly foot shaped shoe. Your feet will become stronger, more flexible, and happier.


      zero drop and wide toe box

      Toes can splay and wiggle freely in the Cinnamon Chic Clays



      1. Dr. William Rossi, DPM, "Fashion and Foot Deformation,"Podiatry Management, October, 2001
      2. Dr. Phil Hoffman, “Conclusions Drawn from a Comparative Study of the Feet of Barefooted and Shoe-Wearing Peoples.”The American Journal of Orthopedic Surgery, October 1905; s2-3 (2): 105. See full article here
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