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Dimitri Gomez bespoke shoes, picture courtesy of Parisian Gentleman

Dimitri Gomez bespoke shoes, picture courtesy of Parisian Gentleman

Many of you have probably heard the term ‘Toe Spring’ before but I am sure that not as many of you probably know what it is actually referring to. Well, let’s talk about it and see if we can shed some light on what it is and how it affects not only the look of your shoes but also the way it affects your walking.

How many of you have seen those horrendous shoes whose toes spring upward like the shoes of one of the elves at the North Pole? Probably many of you, as they still seem to be a plague that just won’t give up. Can you believe that guys around the world still wear the shoes below?  Well, the reality is that those shoes have way too much toe spring. The opposite, of course, is those elegant bespoke shoes (like the pair above) that we see all over the internet that are completely flat like a razor-sharp line from the ball of the foot to the end of the toe. That is zero toe spring. But neither one is good for you, even if one looks good aesthetically speaking.

Jeffrey West, courtesy of  The British Edition
Jeffrey West, courtesy of The British Edition

When you walk, most people start with the outward edge of their heel and go forward at a diagonal angle where the next part of their foot that touches would be the inside ball of the foot. This is called pronating and is how most of us walk. At the point in which you hit the inside ball of your foot, you then start to spring off of the ground with your toes in order to project yourself forward. This is where the toe spring comes into place as your shoes need to not be flat but rather have a slight upwards angle from the ball of the foot to toe in order to make that spring motion more natural. So what is the ideal toe spring?

According to Tony Gaziano of Gaziano & Girling the right amount is just where you can stick a normal pencil or Bic pen (see pic below). It should not be able to go very far inwards but just through the toe to the point where the entire pencil can sit comfortably underneath the toe part of the sole.

The reason it needs to be just right is that when the toe spring is too high, the natural spring is not actually taking place as you need that toe to spring off of but can’t if the toe doesn’t even touch the ground as it points to the sky. This causes you to overwork your arch. That can lead to plantar fasciitis which is very uncomfortable. And when there is no toe spring, you simply won’t walk naturally as you won’t be able to push off because it is hitting the floor before you do and will also cause overworking of another part of your foot (most likely the toes). So you see, it’s necessary for it to be just right.

J.FitzPatrick Corliss

Now, why do so many shoes have such incredibly high toe spring? That is a good question. Let us understand that toe spring will stem from the last shape although it can be manipulated during the shoemaking process (to a certain extent). That being when you see the Jeffrey West shoe, you will see that the last was shaped like that. Therefore, we must assume that most of the last factories in the world have lasts that have too much toe spring (as it is far more common for shoes to have very high toe spring than just the right amount).

It is only when shoes start to become of higher quality that the lasts start to become more elegantly made and shaped. And I ask myself why? Why can’t cheap shoes have nice lasts? I mean, let’s not pretend that cheap shoe factories are going to make a DG70 last like G&G but why do they make the extreme opposite and put a horrendously pointy toe with way too much toe spring? I just don’t get it. But the longer that it continues the harder it will be to educate the planet that shoes SHOULD NOT be like that.

But I guess that is my role: to continue writing posts like these in the hopes that one more person a day reads it and opens their eyes to the way it should be and not the horrific way the majority of it actually is. One step at a time I guess (pun intended!). But for god’s sake people, STOP BUYING AND WEARING ELF LIKE SHOES THAT POINT TO THE SKY!!!!!

14 thoughts on “Toe Spring – What’s It All About?”

  1. Thank you for the very informative post. I wonder, how hard is it, to create a shoe which has the right amount of toe spring, and a balanced stand (that is, when the heel is pressed down, the shoe stays flat on the ground).

  2. Thanh Ho Saigon

    Same thought with what you say. But I couldn’t understand why the bespoke makers (most of them masters of the art) choose to make shoes with such minimal toe spring, regardless of its possible negative impact. Could you please elaborate on that? Thank you.

  3. as long as you can have a neutral heel with no toe spring your fine. The problems with no toe spring only arise with heels where your slanted forward and have to overcompensate to stay upright. Sadly any toe springs holds your toes at a bad angle and actually shifts the fat pad located under the balls of your feet where it does the least amount of good and eventually leads to more food pain, and as we know all dress shoes have a heel so lose lose for the sake of fashion whichever way the maker goes.

  4. what is the side to side radius of a pair of mens large shoes, say size 12 across the balls of the feet. I reckon about a 16″ radius but i am guessing

  5. Toe spring does not needed on a shoe with leather sole as it’s really flexible. On the other hand, shoes with rubber soles needed a little bit of a toe spring as it much stiffer than a leather sole.

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