The Toe Box Taper.....

I was going to try come up with some witty title (this one almost sounds like a dodgy dance. I've just read the Kitchen Disco to children #1 & #2 and I think that might have something to do with it).

I failed (at the title not the reading!).

The bottom line is - there is no place for tapering toe boxes in barefoot shoes for kids nor adults! 


Have you ever noticed the shape of your child's foot?

Children naturally possess a forefoot that is wider than the rest of the foot - i.e. the widest part of the foot is at the tips of the toes. There is space between the toes of the child's barefoot.

#crazythirdchild's beautiful little feet with compulsory 2 year old chipped nail varnish (safe to say Dad does not approve!)


Your child's feet have potential.

Your feet have potential!

Spread or splayed toes offer natural grasping and balancing functions that are significantly inhibited when we choose to push our feet into unnaturally shaped shoes.

Almost all modern shoes have a tapered toe box meaning the shoe is not widest at the toes. In fact far from it. 

The fact that all shoes look like this means we don't question it.....well some of us do!

Using my Barefoot Bandit #3 #crazythirdchild, I've demonstrated the potential ill-effects of a tapered toe box on the wonder of nature's engineering - the human foot.

Quick, easy and obvious. I've even chopped up some shoes to show you!

Check it out - a fairly 'normal looking shoe' -


 Even rolls up. It's still no good - let me show you.

I measured #crazythirdchild prior to this as a UK7 E. So a narrow foot - giving the shoe it's best chance (I'm generous like that).

I first opened up the top but left the 'up stand' of the sole in place. That way we can see just how the toes are being effected....or should I say squished!



The big toe has changed direction. It's now pointing toward the other toes Gone is the space between the toes. The toes are now in an unnatural alignment. 

Why is this important?

Children's feet are not miniature versions of adult feet! Babies are born with fewer bones. At birth there are 22 bones in fact (rather 26 as an adult). By school age, this number will increase to 45.

There is significantly more cartilage in children's feet, this cartilage acts as a precursor to the process bone forming process (ossification).

...but I don't hear them complaining

Cartilage is more malleable than bone! So jamming a child's foot into an non-foot-shaped shoe will not cause the same discomfort as it would in your or my foot. 

Right, back to the butchery

Next I removed the 'up stand' this then left the shape of the sole below but freed  #crazythirdchild's toes! And guess what?.....


With toes free, they naturally splay outside of the sole beneath! (Remember with an E width measurement this foot is narrower...or at least has less girth..... than the majority of children's feet).

Therefore to preserve the natural form of the foot we must avoid tapered toes boxes!  

We need foot-shaped shoes

These open sandals shoe the benefit of a wider forefoot in the shoe, giving the feet space to align naturally

The toes are critical for our sense of balance - especially the big toe which I have discussed here. When our toes are not properly aligned our legs and upper bodies compensate for this.

Trust me, I was a busted runner for years.

I spent thousands on shoes, orthotics and physio.

You know what fixed me?

And I mean like instantly? 

I ditched the shoes! 

So what does the future hold when you do the toe box taper?

Well, (I know this is a bit mean but it's for the good of our children damn it!) on a sunny day take a look an old person's know when we all think, 'Let's wear our sandals'.

Wearers of ill-fitting shoes, such as shoes with tapered toe boxes can bag themselves a good chance of - 

Bunions, Hammer toes, Calluses, Corns, Athlete's Foot and all sorts of foot and lower-limb pain

I only select shoes that have a natural foot shape. I also offer support and advice to help achieve a good fit depending on the shape and width of your child's feet. 

I'm here, willing and able to help should you not wish to do the Toe Box Taper.

Phil :). 



June 14, 2017 — Philip Evans