Sorry it took me a while to get back to this. I've had a ton of surgeries and a busy schedule over the past month, plus I was preparing a lecture that I was giving to surgical residents at a teaching hospital in my area.
Originally Posted by mw313
from a medical / biomechanics standpoint, having at least a moderate toe spring will ease a proper gait for most people walking in daily life.
The foot is meant to roll forward as moving from the stance phase to swing phase of gait. Many people do not have enough degree of dorsiflexion of the hallux (lifting of the big toe at the big toe joint) to have the proper movement for gait, so the toe spring will help this process happen more efficiently.
This effect is exaggerated in some shoes that have rocker bottom soles. These shoes are used for people who have very little dorsiflexion as well as some other orthopedic deformities that are out of the scope of this comment.
Yes it is possible to have no toe spring, but most people will just slap their feet, causing a problem with walking that can even damage parts of the foot as well as causing an increased pressure that can work up to various bones and joints.
I don't agree with the extreme toe spring of some shoes, because they can look like elf shoes, but a mild to moderate toe spring goes with the general effect that happens to shoes over time as well as assists people in walking.
Originally Posted by DWFII
I was hoping you'd jump in here...
I can't speak for other makers but I believe most of my boot lasts, at 1-1/2"+ heel height, are running about 2cm of toe spring and AFAIK that's pretty standard. It does create somewhat of a rocker bottom and without it, as I said, gait would be adversely affected.
The toe spring on my 1" shoe last is right at 11mm (?) but I have built shoes on a previous iteration of that same last with 2cm TS. In fact, my alligator balmorals pictured below (the first of a number of similar pairs made for customers) have the 2cm. They feel and look terrific (little personal testimony there...FWIW) and I have not seen any downside to that much toe spring...either functionally or aesthetically.
So I would ask your
opinion...what's extreme toe spring? At one inch heel height? At Inch and a half?
And what would you regard as optimal toe spring at one inch? At inch and five-eighths?
The balmorals...before wearing
Thanks for continuing on this topic @DWFII ! I would say that as a general rule of thumb 1-2 cm is quite normal for toe spring in a 1-1.5 inch heeled shoe. Anything extreme like 3 cm is really just causing more of a rocker bottom to propel off of when walking, but it isn't really needed to be that great for a functional purpose. That would be purely aesthetic and in my opinion, would be way to curved up, especially if being that flexed before ever wearing the shoe.
Over time, the shoe may start to develop more flex at the region of the toes due to the pressure of walking and dorsiflexing the toes on the shoe materials, but a brand new shoe has no need to be as extreme as 3 + cm.
Originally Posted by bengal-stripe
It is the flexibility or rigidity of, primarily, the sole and, ultimately, the entire shoes that decides the “right” degree of toe spring. On the one end of the footwear spectrum you have the Dutch clog whose rigid totally inflexible wooden sole determines the the curvature of the bottom; on the other end is the ballet slipper (I’m not talking about pointe shoes) which is designed to be flexible and the nearest thing to barefoot.
A classic opera pumps with a thin sole, despite it’s low low heel, has a “dead” forepart (little toe spring,) just like a (ballroom) dance shoe. A man’s dress shoe with it’s standard ¼” leather sole (designed for moderate walking) needs a bit more toe spring. The double-soled country shoe (heavier walking and less flexible sole) needs somewhat more toe spring and army- and hiking boots, traditionally made with extra-heavy leather soles and hob nails will need a rocker sole as a clog. That’s the theory, in practice no shoemaker likes to make a new pair of lasts for every single order by the same customer, particular as toe spring and heel pitch are very difficult to alter by conventional means. Although new digital design programs and digital controlled lathes have changed the difficulty level, it is still an added expense having a new pair of lasts turned.
So last/shoemakers are likely to settle for some medium toe spring which will work reasonably (but not optimally) well with different sole configurations and only will start making a new last in extreme cases. Whatever measurement of toe spring they settle is most likely to be defined by their training and local traditions and schools. In the case of those who buy commercial last to be fitted-up, availability will be most likely the defining criterion.
Yes the materials used and construction method are major factors in how much toe spring is needed. It is not just the height of the heel used in the shoe. Yes a very rigid shoe like a clog does need more toe spring because one walks in those shoes by purely rolling the foot forward to propel them into the next step. A heavy duty boot with a thick double sole will also need more toe spring to allow a smoother gait, because it is much more rigid than a thin sole that is much more flexible.
A flexible shoe like a ballet slipper (not a pointe shoe) or flat can have little to no toe spring because the shoe is so flexible and bends with the wearers foot so well that it is more like a person walking barefoot. A person uses their natural dorsiflexion at the 1st Metatarsal phalangeal joint (the big toe joint) as well as the plantar fascia (band under the foot from the ball of the foot back to the heel) which are the main factors to help the person's foot adjust in shape for propulsion. Then the intrinsic (start and finish within the foot) and extrinsic (start from the leg and end in the foot) muscles will supply the forces need to move the body forward.
This is why the toe spring varies based on the function / purpose of the shoe, the amount of walking done in that type of shoe, the materials used (thin vs thick leather soles, leather vs rubber, etc), and the heel height.
Originally Posted by DWFII
The rigidity of the outsole certainly enters into the equation...as does, to some extent, the thickness of the outsole. A good deal of this is simply what mw313 referred to--the ability of the foot to flex...and to induce the shoe to flex with
the foot. But rigidity is not the whole story. A relatively flexible outsole that is thick, such as cloud crepe, needs toe spring to the extent that it even benefits from additional spring added to both the toe and heel.
That said, look at footprints in the sand. Shoes with minimal or no toe spring will tend to wear faster at the toe regardless of the flexibility of the outsole. Simply because a normal foot pushes off with the toe.
I suspect that this is the reason I have never felt the need to mount toe plates on any of my shoes--the toe spring on my lasts imparts enough rocker motion to minimize excessive wear.
But almost without exception, newer, more fashion forward, low profile shoes nearly require them. The combination of low toe spring and a semi rigid outsole make wear at the toe a certainty. Again because the foot is pushing off with the toe...against a resistant substrate.
yes a thick but flexible outsole like crepe may be flexible but since it is so thick, there needs to be enough toe spring or the person walking in the shoe can actually break the crepe sole right in half. I have actually done this because I need a fair amount of toe spring, due to my foot shape, biomechanics, etc. and this pair of boots did not have enough for me.
Also construction method can be a factor as well. A thin blake stitch or something like a moccasin construction is so flexible that the shoe naturally bends with the foot where as a goodyear welted (GYW) shoe that has a steel shank (think Alden) may need more spring to accommodate for that more rigid construction.
I'm sure that this is surprising to many here but, I have noticed that with hand welted shoes, which are very strongly made and durable, they don't necessarily need a ton of toe spring because they usually are made entirely of leather in that process. My few hand welted shoes from different shoe makers in different parts of the world have less spring than my GYW shoes but are just as fluid in my gait. I attribute this to the extra materials used in GYW construction. My hand welted shoes use leather shanks but I have some GYW shoes that have steel shanks, which are much more rigid.
I don't use toe plates on my shoes either. I don't have excessive wear at the toes either because I have enough toe spring, even in my shoes that have elongated toe boxes.
Originally Posted by DWFII
When fashion...or simple ignorance...is allowed to dictate, anything can happen. Doesn't mean it's right or a standard. Or maybe, in some circles, it does. We sure see a lot of that kind of attitude here, IMO, not to mention the general population.
Stylized gait has nothing to do with it. It's height of heel and the desire to walk easily at that heel height...without sole slap.
I can't speak for other makers but I too would consider that excessive...if
the shoes have never been worn. Which, not being as beguiled by "internet mimeographing" or second or even third hand information as others, I have no way to confirm one way or the other. They look suspiciously worn to me.
But the key element which I find entirely spurious is "fashion" or fashionable."
As Oscar Wilde said " Everything popular is wrong." It goes back to all the things I've railed against here on SF--the overt deception and subtly manipulative influence of PR and marketing hype on popular opinion. Group think. And the even more corrosive effects of inexperienced and unsubstantiated speculation.
I am one shoemaker and @mw313
is one podiatrist (?) who feel...from experience...that toe spring is not just about fashion, although it can certainly be distorted by fashion and misinformation.
IMO, there's more concrete reasons to eschew too low a toe spring than too high a toe spring...all within reason of course.edited for punctuation and clarity
I actually have seen some shoes like those that do have that much toe spring when new. I think it is ridiculous but that is fashion. That is why there is a difference between fashion and style. Fashion fades, whereas style is something that is individual to the wearer and is a part of their character. It can develop further but doesn't just come and go.
Yes I agree from experience that too low a toe spring is more of a problem unless it is a shoe made so flexible or is not for walking at all. Some English riding boots don't need any spring, but they were only worn on the horse. There is very little to no walking done in them, because that is when a walking boot would be put on.
Don't get me started on women's high heeled shoes and the amount of toe spring, or lack there of. haha.