Did you know there's a holiday called National Measure Your Feet Day? While that may sound to you like a silly excuse for a celebration, it's actually important. Why, you may ask?
I invite you to consider the following facts:
- Up to 80% of men wear the wrong shoe size.
- 90% of American women report owning at least one pair of shoes that fits poorly. But they still slip into them pretty often!
Now, that's a lot of people wearing shoes that pinch, rub and just-plain-hurt. Once in a while, it's not the biggest of deals. So you still may not be on board with this holiday. But, if you still think we don’t need a national foot-measuring call to arms, consider this.
The Risks of Wearing the Wrong Shoe Size
These are some, but not all, of the problems that come from wearing shoes that don't fit.
This is a condition where your toes deform because of a muscular imbalance. Often, that imbalance your birth right. But sometimes, it comes from trauma. And that's when we have to look at the shoes you're wearing.
You see, if you've injured your toe in the past, that could affect your toe joints. Whether you broke or jammed that toe, the weaker joints could be more likely to buckle. Then, if you add in tight shoes, or shoes that aren't long enough, problems add up. Because, if your shoe is too short, your toe will jam against the edge and increase the chances of deformity. Or, if your shoe is too tight and pointy, your toes will get scrunched up. And you'll increase the chances of deformity.
Basically, I don't believe that shoes alone can cause a hammertoe pr
oblem. But I do believe that they can make existing imbalances worse. Plus, they can magnify the other issues I'm about to discuss.
Bunions are bumps that form at the base of your great toe. What's causing that bump? It's the enlarged head of your metatarsal bone. And it doesn't stand alone. The bigger the bump on your foot, the more it forces your big toe to move towards those other toes. Then, you may notice crossed toes or hammer toes.
Now, like hammertoes, bunions result from mechanical issues. But shoes play a bigger role in bunion formation than with hammertoes. (This is why more women than men get bunions.) Because the wrong shoes can force your big toe into bad positions. And that can speed up bunion growth, making it more likely you'll need bunion surgery.
Unlike the first two conditions I reviewed, corns can be directly linked to shoe problems. Corns are areas of thick skin. Your skin builds layers when it feels pressure--it's a form of self-protection. That pressure could come from mechanical issues. But it often comes from wearing the wrong shoes.
That's why, when I treat corns, I always look at your shoe choice. Because even if I remove your corn seed, it will come back. Unless we change your shoes to stop the pressure.
Blisters and Ingrown toenails
These problems can also be tied to our shoe choice. If your shoes are too tight, your heels will rub against the backs, giving your blisters. If they're too big, you'll slip inside the shoes. And that friction could give you blisters.
You're in the same boat with ingrown toenails. If your shoes are too small, your nail will jam against the end of your shoe. And that trauma could change the direction of your nail growth inward. But what if the shoes are too big? Also not good. As they slide forward, they hit the edge of your shoe. And you're back in touble!
Finding the Right Shoe Size
By now, I hope you see the danger in wearing shoes that don't fit. So what's the best way to avoid problems? Wear supportive, fitted shoes, of course. And how can you ensure a proper foot measurement and shoe fitting?
Using a Brannock device will give you the best measurement. Thats the silver contraption found in most shoe store. (It looks like the image at right.) And it measures the length and width of your foot. It also measure the length from the heel of your foot to the ball.
Now, that second measurement is crucial. It determines where shoes bend and flex as you walk. But, thankfully, you don't have to hit the shoe store to get these numbers. (Although in-person shoe shopping is best.) Because, if you want to replicate this type of measurement at home, here's what you have to do.
- Using a shoe you already own, find the widest part of your foot.
- Note if it is filling out the widest part of your foot, or if it’s closer to the arch of your shoe.
- What if the widest part of your foot doesn’t line up with the widest part of your shoe? You'll need to wear a smaller shoe size with a larger width.
Remember, your feet are too important to get crammed into ill-fitting shoes! And it's part of my job to save your from that mistake. That's why I invite you to make every day a shoe-fitting holiday! Make sure you wear the right size footwear, every time you put on shoes.
And, if ill-fitting shoes have left you walking with pain, there is a solution! Schedule an immediate appointment to see Dr. Schneider right away! (I promise I won't give you a big lecture. But I can't promise I won't give you a printout of this post!)