There was a split second when I thought I was going to be turned to face away and given a bullet in the back of my head.
Or something far less dramatic yet somehow comparable.
I was being barked at by a shop assistant for my choice of footwear. I found this a touch weird as I was actually wearing the only brand the store stocks.
Just after the words, "I'm a big fan of your shoes" left my lips, the assistant proceeded to get all up in my grill (that means 'in my personal space' for those less familiar with current street lingo) and tell me my shoes were too small for me in a rather aggressive and condescending manner.
"Do you know why the shoe should be bigger?" asked the assistant as a precursor to showing off their expert knowledge that they assumed I didn't have.
I answered with the word "splay" but my correct answer seemed to whistle straight past them as they proceeded with their lecture.
The assistant was not a Nazi in the literal sense but evidently believed it's their duty to attempt to correct any foot/toes related ideologies outside of their own that they see. By intimidation if necessary.
Back to toe splay.
To splay means to spread apart.
When a bare foot hits the ground, at a certain point in its motion the toes will spread apart a little due to changes in pressure and the elasticity of the foot.
This elastic spreading is then followed by an elastic recoil when the foot becomes more compact again to help it push off the floor.
Some shoes now using various methods take toe splay into account which is a great thing.
Riddle me this though:
if a foot doesn't splay anywhere near as much as it could when it is bare, do you really think that making a shoe more able to accommodate splaying will make it?
Don't get me wrong. Shoes are important. They should fit well. They should be comfortable. They should grip the floor the way you need them to. They can even help you develop your abilities...a little.
They are not, however, a panacea.
Toe function is hugely important in athletic pursuits. It will affect everything from speed to strength to total body flexibility.
Do your toes bend easily both ways? How easily can you spread them and bring them together at will?
Developing your ability to use your toes more like their design permits will take you further than shoes alone ever will. (I'll be helping people use their whole body more like it can be used at my running workshop next weekend - pop along!)
And you can also do this in the comfort of your own home far away from the hostility of any Toe Nazis.
Arton "Giving the Toe Nazis my middle toe" Baleci