There are relatively pieces of footwear advice that I give to runners with absolute certainty. One of them, however, is the fact that we should always afford adequate space for the forefoot by selecting a shoe that provides appropriate width and volume at the level of the toe box to avoid cramming our feet. While I hate to use a diagnostic image of this nature as it may seem to be a scare tactic, I thought that it would make it readily apparent that runners should strive to take better care of their feet through ensuring proper fit.
I gained first hand appreciation for the ill effects of running in a shoe that did not provide enough space for the width of my forefoot a couple years ago when I returned to visit my family in Pittsburgh over the winter holidays. In typical fashion, I went out for a mid afternoon with the only difference being that I was in a new pair of shoes. Despite initially feeling okay, I started to experience a sharp pain at the base of my second toe on the left side about five miles into my run. After stopping to loosen up the laces, which seemed to be a bit too snug, I tried running again only to find myself wincing with every step. Fortunately, I was able to make it home and was relieved to finally get out of my shoes and off my feet. Although the pain gradually subsided over the next few days while I gradually resumed pain free walking, I noticed that I had developed a toe gripping strategy on the left side (see video below) that most likely set in during that run as I was never aware of it prior to that outing. Over the next few weeks, I had to focus extensively on resolving this compensatory strategy of gripping my toes through practicing various toe dexterity drills before I was able to finally return to walking and running without issue.
So the next time you go to buy a new pair of shoes, make sure to select a shoe that is not only comfortable and defect free, but also that affords adequate width and volume in the toe box. Of equal if not greater importance, is to also select dress and casual shoes that do the same since we tend to spend a good deal of time in various shoes outside of our running footwear. Here's to foot health!
4/21/2015 05:18:09 am
" I noticed that I had developed a toe gripping strategy"
7/20/2016 12:33:01 am
This is the first time I am reading of the toe box and now that I think of it, I experience this pain and discomfort when I buy shoes that doesn't offer enough space for that! Now that explains everything.
12/12/2020 07:59:47 am
May I use your image of the shoe x-ray in a book I am writing about technology?
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MIKE REINOLD & ERIC CRESSEY'S FUNCTIONAL STABILITY PART 4