Toe spring is a feature that has kind of snuck its way into footwear as a result of thickened, cushioned soles. Due to the thickness of the soles in modern footwear making it harder to bend the toes during walking, the toe spring was born. Toe spring is essentially a rocker and helps the foot roll forward or transition smoothly during walking or running onto the front of the foot for the propulsion phase of gait. Unfortunately this feature comes with its own problems. Our Foot is designed to be flat and to adapt to the different terrain under foot. When stuck in a shoe for a long period of time though the foot can start to get lazy or develop unnaturally bad habits.
What many of us do not realise is that the toe spring in a shoe lifts our toes up approximately 0.5-1cm ( which may not seem like a lot) but when coupled with the built in 1.5 cm + heel this means the big toe is getting pretty wound up in that shoe.
The problem with winding the big toe up is that this starts to activate what is know as the windlass mechanism which is a built in foot feature that begins "locking the foot" and making it more rigid for more efficient propulsion. The windlass mechanism is an awesome feature, but The issue with this is when your windlass mechanism is engaged when the foot should be unlocked and adapting to the ground underneath for shock absorption.
Another issue with having the big toe in constant wind up is that the tendons and fascia in the arch can become over stretched whilst also becoming over active. The tendons on top of the foot can become chronically shortened which is the basic recipe for clawed or hammer toes.
So to put it simply... Toe spring is a feature that is not needed in footwear for the majority of people and in my opinion is actually quite dangerous to foot and gait health when subjected to it for long periods of time.
Check out the short video for a quick explanation on Toe springs impact.