Did you know that Ronald McDonald was a runner? He was on to something too. Ronald’s big clown shoes might seem big and clunky, but they had one thing that all running shoes should have, a wide toe box. The first time my wife saw a pair or Altra shoes, she called them “clown shoes.” While they may look funky, they serve a purpose and feel great.
Companies like Altra and Topo Athletic have been selling these wide toe box shoes for years now. Altra was founded in 2009 by Golden Harper who has over 30 years in the running specialty industry. Tony Post was the President of Vibram Fivefingers before leaving to start Topo Athletic about 2 years ago. Both companies realize that there are several important reasons why this wide toe box is vital to running.
Look at your shoes. Most likely, they have pointed toe boxes. Now look at your bare foot. Chances are that your foot is not that same pointy shape. Pointy shoes squeeze your toes out of their normal alignment. This can increase the chance of various types of foot injuries including the dreaded plantar fasciitis.
The wide toe box allows your toes to spread out as they naturally want to. This increases your stability and gives you more power when you toe off. The reason you have more stability is that your big toe is allowed to remain in a straight position instead of being pulled toward your other toes. This natural spreading of your toes can also help the overpronator because you are more stable, reducing the need for special stability shoes in some runners.
Both Altra and Topo Athletic shoes have a secure heel, relaxed instep area and loose toe box. I have reviewed several of these shoes and love the wide toe box. I strongly believe that the wide toe box is the way of the future. Give them a try and let me know what you think.