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an activity that is natural to or the purpose of a person or thing. (Oxford English Dictionary)

The purpose of the foot is to provide a stable base of support to control the direction of the body weight during the stance phase of locomotion [1-3]. Newtonian physics dictates that a wider base of support is more stable than a narrow base. Width and stability of the forefoot is crucial in this regard as the highest forces during mid stance occur at the forefoot [4, 5]. A greater spread of the toes, the great toe in particular, reduces forefoot peak pressures, distributes force more evenly, and stabilises the foot and ankle [6-8]. Toes squashed together by years of wearing narrow shoes that do not respect the natural fan shape of the human foot [9] are common [10] and are linked to instability and movement-related pain [11, 12]. Natural function can be restored by regular loading of the feet in footwear that respect natural design of the foot [13] and permit freedom for the toes to spread and stabilise the foot.

Pain-free movement begins with a stable base of support. A stable foot requires Toe freedom, only functional footwear provides toe freedom. Joe Nimble ‘functional footwear’ is based on this science. 


1. Mann R and Inman VT. Phasic Activity of Intrinsic Muscles of the Foot. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 1964 46(3): 469-481. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14131426)

2. Reeser LA, Susman RL, and Stern JT. Electromyographic Studies of the Human Foot: Experimental Approaches to Hominid Evolution. Foot and Ankle 1983 3(6): 391-407. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6409717)

3. Rolian C, et al. Walking, running and the evolution of short toes in humans. 
Journal of Experimental Biology 2009 212: 713-721. (http://homepages.ucalgary.ca/~cprolian/pubs/Rol...)

4. Wilkinson M and Saxby L. Form determines function: Forgotten application to the human foot? . Foot and Ankle Online Journal 2016 9(2): 5-8. (https://faoj.org/2016/06/30/form-determines-fun...)

5. Wilkinson M, Stoneham R, and Saxby L. Feet and footwear: Applying biological design and mismatch theory to running injuries. International Journal of Sports and Exercise Medicine.
2018 4(2). (https://clinmedjournals.org/articles/ijsem/inte...)

6. D'Aout K, et al. The effects of habitual footwear use: foot shape and function in ntaive barefoot walkers.Footwear Science 2009 1(2): 81-94. (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1942...)

7. Mei Q, et al. A comparative biomechanical analysis of habitually unshod and shod runners based on foot morphological difference. Human Movement Science 2015 42: 38-53. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25964998)

8. Shu Y, et al. Dynamic loading and kinematics analysis of vertical jump based on different forefoot morphology. SpringerPlus 2016 5: 1999. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC51...)

9.  Munteanu SE, et al. Hallux valgus, by nature or nurture? A twin study. Arthritis Care and Research 2017. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27863158)

10. Nix S, Smith M, and Vicenzino B. Prevalence of hallux valgus in the general population: a systematic review and meta analysis. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 2010 3: 21. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20868524)

11. Vorobiev G. Evolution of injuries in athletics. New Studies in Athletics 1999 4: 23-26. 

12. Travell J and Simons D, Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. 1993: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

13. Knowles FW. Effects of shoes on foot form: An anatomical experiment. The Medical Journal of Australia 1953 1(17): 579-581. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13062868)