This is a post written on behalf of Joe Nimble—an Elephant partner. We’re honored to work with anyone who is this dedicated to restoring and protecting not just our natural foot health, but our whole healthy selves. ~ Ed.
“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci
Free your Toes & the Rest will Follow.
We wouldn’t walk around all day long in a suit of armor or a corset—so why do we force our feet into the equivalent of these every day?
Unless we’re living on a beach in Costa Rica somewhere with hardly any need for clothing, let alone footwear, we’re probably squeezing our 10 little toes into traditional shoes daily.
Okay, some shoes are comfier than others and it may not even feel like a squeeze, but that’s partly because we’re just so used to the restriction.
No matter which type of traditional shoe we’re wearing—from our night-on-the-town stilettos to our favorite old trainers—it’s likely we’ve got five toes all jammed into one small space to the left and the right, without any of the freedom and joy of movement we get when we sink barefoot into the grass, or spread our toes out on the yoga mat.
And most of us know how good that feels, right? We know that sigh of relief when we get home after a long day and get to slip our shoes off. There’s a reason for that.
One quarter (26) of the bones in our bodies are in our feet. We have 33 joints, more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments as well as a network of blood vessels, nerves, skin, and soft tissue in our two l’il trotters.
When we put on traditional shoes, our brain sees and relates to the foot as if it were a “paddle” or single, inflexible object, instead of as a dynamic instrument with five muscular toes. Our toes are most typically pressed together to varying degrees—sometimes even so much that they become re-formed, or even de-formed (gross!) over time. In turn, the muscles in the foot and toes stop working correctly.
Our toes forget the natural intelligence they had when we were younger, helping us to balance and giving us feedback about the world around us. This can lead to all sorts of functional and health problems. Ask any physiotherapist or barefoot fitness specialist: good health really does start from the ground up.
But most of us can’t just donate all our shoes to charity and join the barefoot movement full-time. So we need a shoe that’ll give us all the experience and benefits of going barefoot, together with the all support and safety of a shoe.
“I had issues with standing and walking for long periods of time. My feet would always hurt, and I thought I need something that will make my life better…And so we tried a few things and then my question was, this foot thing; I’m probably not the only one. Other people probably have the same issues.” ~ Christian Bär
Joe Nimble shoes were born out of the vision of Christian Bär, the pioneering German shoemaker who has been delivering innovation in shoes since 1982. Christian’s uncompromising philosophy is based on the belief that shoes should follow the natural shape of the foot, not the other way around.
Modern shoe technology forces our bodies to move in a sensory-deprived environment, causing aches and pains from incorrect posture and movement. Joe Nimble gets back to what nature intended, allowing our feet to “sense” the ground and give essential feedback to the brain, resulting in more natural movement.
When you put on Joe Nimble shoes, you’ll experience a completely new and natural walking sensation, helping to promote your body’s ability to be in natural balance.
Not available in the U.S. until just this year, the Joe Nimble brand is a new athleisure footwear option for those of us who want to be both stylish and health-conscious. Designed to combine the health benefits of being barefoot with the performance and comfort benefits of wearing shoes, Joe Nimble shoes offer complete “toe freedom.”
A Foundation for Good Health
Joe Nimble shoes are designed to put your feet into a more natural position. It begins with our zero heel and wider toe box, which brings the ball of your foot and heel onto one plane, and gives your toes the room to spread. We call this “toe freedom.”
Freedom for your toes allows the foot to relax, strengthening foot muscles and ensuring a gentler foot-strike. The result? You will not only enjoy a more natural walking sensation, but you may even notice that you have improved posture.
In the natural world, the first principle of design is that form equals function (that the shape of something identifies its purpose).
The human foot and tree roots share many features. Both provide stability and connection with the ground, and both are distorted by containers too small or wrongly shaped. Distorted, “shoe-shaped“ feet and toes cannot function without the support of a shoe. Foot muscles become weak and tight until even walking barefoot around the house can be painful.
Natural, healthy feet come in different sizes and proportions but are always asymmetrical and foot-shaped. At Joe Nimble, we believe that the human foot has evolved this way for important functional reasons and therefore the first principle of shoe design should be that shoes are asymmetrical and “foot-shaped.”
But wide does not always equal functional. A shoe that is wide and flat but symmetrical cannot be functional. The extra width at the ball of the foot, rather than the toe box, is anatomically inaccurate. An extra-wide symmetrical shoe is usually uncomfortable, forcing the wearer to select a size much larger than desired.
Since we are used to wearing these kinds of unnatural, tight shoes with stiff soles and raised heels for most of our lives, we are challenged to rediscover how to be “nimble” again.
But the good news is our inherent adaptability means that distorted shoe-shaped feet can be reversed. Just like tree roots, the human foot can begin to recover natural form and function if given space to grow.
Just as the roots of a tree adapt to the shape of the container they are in, the shape of the foot adapts its shape to its container.
Handmade, German-Engineered Master Craftsmanship
The Bär family has been perfecting their craftsmanship and expertise in functional footwear for over 35 years—barefoot shoes were an obsession for us long before the barefoot movement was even a thing.
Joe Nimble takes the German reputation for having high standards in engineering and craftsmanship seriously. Our designers use only the finest materials, along with great skill and determined patience, to hand-craft a shoe like no other.
The finest full-grain leather, feather-light flexible rubber and breathable microfiber all come together to create a shoe that is long-lasting and expertly made.
Joe Nimble shoes come in many different styles, and 4mm or 6mm Vibram soles for both women and men, designed to go from the office, to the street to the yoga studio.
Scientific and Expert Backing
Lee Saxby, one of the most globally recognized coaches for running technique and biomechanics, has been a pivotal figure in the natural movement revolution.
He has consulted with various shoe companies, contributed to university research projects, coaching and is now working closely together with Joe Nimble to free feet from the restrictions of standard shoes by developing innovative, holistic movement concepts.
Naming Joe Nimble the #1 functional footwear brand in the world, Lee says:
“Joe Nimble footwear is functional footwear. Designed to combine the health benefits of being barefoot with the performance and comfort benefits of a shoe. Joe Nimble takes the human foot beyond barefoot.”
The Benefits of “Toe Freedom”
As soon as you start wearing Joe Nimble shoes, you will begin to enjoy the feeling of “toe freedom,“ and it won’t be long before you begin to enjoy the benefits too. Your toes will begin to spread, your foot and toe muscles will begin to strengthen, and your body will discover that Leonardo da Vinci was right.
The human foot really is a “masterpiece of engineering,” providing a flexible and stable base of support for the full range of human movement.
Giving Back to the Community
In addition to sponsoring local sporting events, Joe Nimble regularly gives away shoes to underprivileged people. To date, they have donated more than 5,000 pairs of new shoes to local communities.
Life’s better when you’re nimble, and we aim to share our passion as far and wide as possible.
“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.” ~ Jim Morrison
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren