If you’ve never experienced a hike in a pair of wide toe box hiking boots, then you may be experiencing unnecessary pain and discomfort in your feet.
Sore and painful feet after a long hike or backpacking trip in traditional footwear is not all that uncommon. The best part of the hike shouldn’t be the moment you take off your hiking boots.
Traditional hiking boots typically have a narrow, tapered toe box with a substantial heel to toe drop (12mm on average). This raised heel and narrow toe box causes the toes to be wedged and squished together step after step.
After many miles and various hikes, this position causes an increased strain on the tendons, ligaments, and muscles in our feet.
Hiking in a wide toe box boot will provide ample space for the toes to splay, providing a number of foot health benefits and, more importantly, will help reduce, if not eliminate the pain and discomfort.
Why Do You Need a Wide Toe Box Hiking Boot?
At birth, we come out of the womb with perfectly-shaped feet. They have a broad base and toes that splay wide. When we hit the age of four or five, however, we start to wear shoes with tapered toe boxes and narrow heels, all in the name of fashion.
This shoe shape actually causes damage to our feet by forcing the foot into unnatural positions. Narrow toes and high heels are exceptionally bad for our feet and cause a number of problems, including:
- Foot weakness
- Reduced mobility
- Limited range of motion in the toes
- Weak arches
- Poor posture and balance
- Feet are reliant on footwear to “correct problems” vs building muscle
When you wear a shoe with a wide toe box, the feet are allowed to move in their natural state, which is hugely beneficial to foot health, and comfort during wear. This especially matters during endurance efforts and active pursuits when we ask a lot from our feet.
So, what are the benefits of ditching traditional hiking boots and going with a pair of wide toe box hiking boots like Lems for your next adventure?
Perhaps the most significant benefit from switching to wide toe box hiking boots is a major improvement in foot comfort.
With Lems natural foot shape design and spacious wide toe box, your toes will no longer be squished and jammed together step after step. Depending on the terrain and length of the hike, your feet may still become fatigued, but not nearly as much as with traditional boots.
With a wider toe box hiking boot comes better balance, as your toes are now allowed to spread out and provide stability.
Balance is the essential foundation of every moment we make. It keeps the body’s center of mass over its support base. Even standing still requires balance.
This is especially important during movement, particularly over uneven surfaces, like trails.
When you pair a wider toe splay with the lower stack height boot zero-drop or minimalist shoe, you are now closer to the ground and have a lower center of gravity. This position provides more surface area for the foot, thus improving balance.
With better balance and toe and foot alignment, comes a reduction in injuries.
Minimalist shoes encourage strengthening in the muscles, ligaments, and joints of the foot that have been damaged and manipulated by traditional footwear. Stronger feet means injury reduction.
Further, with a lower center of gravity, your toes can provide better stability, your chances of an ankle injury drops significantly.
Improved Foot Health
Hiking in a wide toe box boot allows the toes to splay naturally, encouraging them to realign to their natural position. When the toes are squished together and a high heel drop puts stress on the joints and ligaments, painful foot deformities like bunions and hammertoes can present.
Additionally, when the toes are squished into a narrow toe box, blood flow can become limited, causing numbness in the toes. A wide toe box allows for ample blood flow.
Have we convinced you to try a pair of wide toe box hiking boots for your next day hike or backpacking trip yet? Do yourself a favor and try wearing a pair of the Lems Primal Pursuit or Lems Trailhead hiking shoes. Your feet will thank you.