When talking about shoes, most people understand terms like “arch support” and “cushioning”, but just how well do you really know them? In this post, we uncover toespring, and what you need to know about this design feature. As you may have observed, a shoe’s sole a and structure can vary from style to style, with some feeling flat, others feeling like the heel is raised, and yet others that seem to lift your toes upward slightly.
That last feature – where the toes are raised – is called toe spring. You will find it in athletic, casual, dress, and most other types of shoes. Sometimes it’s clearly visible when looking at the shoe, and at other times, it’s due to the way the interior is assembled. Shoe manufacturers provide toespring to create a rocking effect that allows your foot to roll into the next step gently. That is, it helps your foot to roll forward during walking.
When you are barefoot, your foot is supple enough to adapt to the movement by “rolling” from the heel to the ball of the foot, and finally onto the toes. In stiff, flat shoes, it is more difficult to continue with that familiar gait unless there is some toespring.
Too Much Toespring
However, too much toe spring creates an imbalance between the tendons above and below the toes. These tendons help you to pull equally for proper alignment and function while you are in motion. Toespring keeps the toes unnaturally in an upward position throughout the day, lengthening the lower tendons while shortening the upper tendons.
Walking with shoes that raise up your toes is different from how you would normally walk with your bare foot. And so, toe spring can cause foot pain such as Capsulitis, Plantar fasciitis and Hammertoes.
Toe spring is a contributing factor to the development of hammertoes. The upward elevation of toes causes the muscles at the top of the foot to reduce in length. When you wear shoes with toe spring for a long period of time, usually for years, the muscles continue to shrink further. This causes the toe to curl up into the hammer position, which can only be resolved through hammertoe surgery.
You can prevent this condition by changing your foot wear. Stop wearing shoes with high heels and toe spring. Continuously stretch the top of your feet and the muscles.
- Plantar fasciitis
Toespring holds the toe in an upward position during walking and standing. Thus the toes can only touch the ground when the heel lifts up. Keeping the toes in this condition for a long time can stop the toes from gripping the ground, stop the foot muscles from contracting to hold the arch, keep the muscles and plantar fascia from helping with shock absorption and cuts off circulation at the bottom of the foot.The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that connects the heel to the base of the five toes. The fascia provides shock absorption to the feet. When the toes are forced to stay in an upward position, the plantar fascia is under intense tension and strain. Not only that, it can prevent shock absorption and muscle activity of the foot muscles, thereby increasing the tension on the plantar fascia. This could easily damage the tissue.Plantar fasciitis can be corrected by wearing shoes with little or no toe spring and a flexible sole. Orthotic inserts can help, and foot stretching exercises can help reverse this condition.
Capsulitis is a foot condition that affects the joints at the back of your toes. The joints have layers of ligaments that form capsules to help the bones of the toe move freely. The condition is common in the ball of the foot and behind the second toe. The affected area becomes inflamed and swells. It is a very painful condition. One of the causes of capsulitis is wearing footwear with elevated heel or toe spring. Toespring heightens the pressure below the joints, thereby increasing the likelihood of developing capsulitis. The condition can be corrected by resting, applying ice at the affected area, stretching and using anti-inflammatory drugs.
When it comes to conditions like hammertoe, plantar fasciitis, and capsulitis, only a podiatrist can diagnose your case, and offer the optimal corrective measures. These painful foot conditions can be triggered in different ways, and it’s important to find the root cause(s) and take the appropriate action.
Call Houston Foot and Ankle Care to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gabriel Maislos, DPM, FACFAS. We accept most major medical insurance, and offer same-day and next-day appointments.
Call (713) 541-3199 if you experience:
- toes that bend upward at the base, and down at the middle joint
- pain around one or more toes
- stabbing heel pain or pain along the arch of the foot