• Phoebus Tian

Conventional shoe designs that make walking more comfortable have serious consequences.

Most of the trainers have an upturned front end. It's kind of like the bow of a boat. This curve is called the Toe spring -- it has become one of the standard designs of modern shoes.

This special design, which lifts the ball of the forefoot, allows us to naturally shift our weight from the heel to the forefoot as we walk. As a result, we walk more comfortably and effortlessly.

But researchers at Harvard University have found that being comfortable and effortless comes at a price in itself. The research was published in the Scientific Reports.

This almost omnipresent upward bend in the front sole of the shoe elevates the toes and thus holds them in a constant dorsal flexion position. While dorsiflexion of the toes is generally believed to contribute to the forefoot's ability to move forward at the end of the pose, it may also adversely affect natural foot function.

Because the musculoskeletal area at the top of the toe is "flexed" for a long time, it is not "stretched", which can lead to problems such as plantar fasciitis.

Analysis of the data showed that the toes did reduce the burden on the muscles in the feet, but at the same time, the muscles that were not moving enough became stiffer. Taking into account the average number of steps we take each day, over time, it is enough to have serious health consequences.

Sichting, F., Holowka, N.B., Hansen, O.B. et al. Effect of the upward curvature of toe springs on walking biomechanics in humans. Sci Rep 10, 14643 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-71247-9

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