I want to preface this blog post with the following: I’m a husband and a father of a teenage daughter (and two boys, but for the purpose of this entry, they don’t count.) I understand the appeal of fashionable shoes. Heck, I even get that they look great—no one can pull off a pair of high heels the way my wife does.
But, in general, I try to suggest footwear—to you and to my family—that puts a little less pressure on your ankles, feet and toes. I’m all for completing the perfect outfit, but I’m equally in favor of preventing complications like bunions and hammertoes. That’s just how I roll.
Well this season, there’s a new type of shoe hitting the runways—and it’s one that I can actually feel comfortable buying for my loved ones. As an avid follower of foot news, I discovered this style in a Who What Wear post that showed up on my podiatry Google alert. Here’s what I discovered:
Vogue Magazine has determined that square-toed shoes are one of the five shoes styles you must try this fall. In fact, the fashion bible dubbed them the new “Power Flat.” While I don’t know much about that, here’s why I hopping on board with this particular trend.
Pointy-toed shoes are problematic. They pinch your toes into unnaturally tight positions, putting pressure on the delicate bones in your feet. They are especially tight at the widest point of your feet, where the ball meets the toes. That kind of pressure can impact the joints of the big toe, even altering their growth and potentially leading to the development of bunions.
Now, while pointy-toed shoes may lead to bunion growth, or make small bumps even bigger, they’re basically non-starters for people who already have bunions, like the Who What Wear blogger in love with square-toes. As a bunion sufferer, Nicole Kliest was panicking at the end of summer, because she wasn’t sure what she’d wear once open-toed sandals were no longer weather appropriate! After discovering that square-toed shoes were in style, she found relief, saying: “Aside from their subtle, unexpected nature, [square-toed] shoes also happen to be less narrow than pointed-toe options. Translation: My podiatrist says they give your feet more room and are less likely to create foot pain. Sure, they're not as ideal as open-toe sandals, but small improvements, right?”
Benefits of Roomier Toe Boxes
Your toes need the ability to move within your shoes. If they stay static and trapped, trouble ensues. Here are some of the problems you may be able to avoid by leaving yourself some wiggle room in the toe-box of your shoes:
Corns: Corns appear as a thickening of the skin on your toes. Hard corns are usually located on the outer surface of the little toe or on the upper surface of the other toes. These hardened areas of skin form as a result of repeated pressure—from tight-fitting shoes or other external factors. Your skin becomes thicker as a protective measure, to prevent the pressure from damaging sensitive areas beneath the skin. Calluses can also form as a result of external pressures. Like corns, they appear as hardened areas of skin; typically, however, they appear over a wider area of your feet.
Neuromas: Neuromas are enlarged nerves that can cause you to experience terrible foot pain. When the enlarged nerve is located between your third and fourth toes, it’s called a Morton's neuroma. Extra pressure on the front of your feet can exacerbate the pain of a neuroma, and potentially make the problem more difficult to treat.
Hammertoes: External pressures can build up over time, eventually changing the appearance
of your toes permanently. Bent, crooked and crossed toes can all begin to develop—or be made worse—by shoes that fit tightly in the toe box.
Now that you know roomier shoes are a:in style and b: saving you from a whole slew of pretty painful foot problems, I’m sure you’re going to head out and buy a styling new pair of square-toed shoes. But in case you need more inspiration, I hear that Dear Frances and FarFetch have some great styles in stock. Go check them out, and be sure to let them know your podiatrist sent you!