It is time we begin to differentiate between foot-shaped feet and shoe-shaped feet.
If you haven't already check out The Foot's Blank Slate: The Sublime Spade Shape.
And, of course...here's FRED. Shoe-shaped and foot-shaped, personified:
Here is a present day example. This x-ray does not belong to these shoes...but it was amazing how perfectly they fit:
If you have been wearing shoes most of your life, it's most likely that you currently have a shoe-shaped foot. If you have very young children, it's possible they may still have beautiful spade-shaped feet.
There are varying degrees of shoe-shaped feet. Some toes have escaped the crunch, most have not. But it's not only the toes that have been affected. Take your shoes off and do a bit of a self-assessment as you read.
I've spared you photos of actual shoe-shaped feet. They are not pretty. Instead I've chosen to use x-rays as it helps to visualize what's truly going on with the foot. You'll get to see INDIVIDUAL toe joints (each toe has 2 or 3) to see exactly where the misalignment is happening.
Things to look for that are affected by long-term shoe use:
1. WIDTH AND BREADTH of the bones. Are the toes splaying outward? Are they evenly spaced?
2. ALIGNMENT. Are the joints aligned in straight lines as they are designed?
3. TOE HEIGHT. When non-weight bearing are they on the same plane as the heel or higher?
Note: For more on footwear impact on TOE HEIGHT please read: TOE SPRING = TOE STUCK.
4. LATERAL SIDE. Is the foot flat on the ground along the entire edge as it's designed?
Here's an example. These are both weight-bearing:
It is hard to find a foot x-ray in which all 26 bones of the foot are still in their proper, natural alignment. So when I came across a hand x-ray in my search, I was amazed. It was wonderful to see, and I believe, very useful as an example for what the natural foot is also born to be like.
Notice how each of the bones are straight structurally and functionally. The joints of the fingers are aligned in a straight line. The bones of the second through fifth fingers are EVENLY spaced and of course the ends of the fingers, just like the ends of the toes, are designed to be the widest of all.
Below I've put together a compilation of foot x-rays with varying degrees of deformity. Keep your own feet and footwear in mind as you peruse.
As you look scroll down below, keep in mind, functional deformities are often very fixable! Joints are held togther by soft-tissues that respond well to myofascial modalities, corrective exercises and above all just being used properly. As long as the feet below are connected to a living breathing human being, they are completely capable of some degree of change. I hope this post inspires that vital fact. [Suggested reads: Redefining WIDE and Toes have ligaments and tendons too.]
Have a look at the x-rays on the left first, and see how you would assess it's form and alignment. Then compare with the loosely suggested superimposed 'straight lines' on the x-rays on the right. At times the lines had to be spaced wider as the foot was also presenting very narrow and compact. The most disconcerting is the x-ray used as "normal" and the final which is promoted as "foot-shaped" by one of the more generous toe-box footwear brands on the market.
Things to think about...
Normal does NOT mean natural.
The best of the best footwear in most categories just isn't good enough.
It's time to differentiate between foot-shaped and shoe-shaped.
Leave a comment below and tell us about your own self-assessment. How shoe-shaped are your feet? Your friends? Family? Clients? And what would you like to do about it?