Proper Shoe Fit and Foot Care
Proper shoe fit is essential to having healthy feet.
If you’re like most people, you take a great deal of pride in your body. Whether it’s through dieting, working out at the gym, or splurging for a beauty spa trip, we spend lots of time making sure we look and feel our best.
Surprisingly, of all the body parts we take pride in, our feet are often the last thing we think about in terms of good health. Considering that our feet are the body part we rely on to take all our weight each and every day, this discrepancy is surprising!
When I talk about neglecting our feet, I’m not talking about how we pamper them like the rest of our bodies with creams and scrubs, or with product designed to prettify them. I am talking about improper shoe fit.
It’s amazing how many of people are willing to happily walk around all day wearing shoes which fit improperly. Why do people do this to themselves? Why do we willing choose to hurt our feet?
Well, often the reason is aesthetics. Many adults will settle for a shoe size which is too small, or doesn’t properly fit, if it means getting the particular style of shoe they want. Purely for style, many people suffer through much of their daily lives wearing painful or even harmful shoes. This isn’t really about gender, but think about the immediate pain and long-term damage potentially caused by the fashionable high heels worn by many women.
Of course, if you absolutely must wear high heels or uncomfortable shoes for work or fashion, using something like an at home foot spa can help, but it’s far better to avoid wearing poorly fitting shoes in the first place.
Why Proper Shoe Fit Matters
So why does proper shoe fit matter? Well, did you know that wearing poorly fitting shoes for prolonged lengthes of time can lead to long-term foot damage?
Improperly fitting shoes are now recognized as one of the causes of ingrowing toe nails, which as anyone who has ever suffered from it will tell you, is not a pleasant condition at all. In children, the wrong size of shoe can stunt the growth of their feet because there is no room for much needed expansion.
For extreme examples of stunted foot growth from poor shoe size, look at the historical practice of Chinese foot binding. Historically, women with small feet were considered more attractive in Chinese culture. Parents would bind their daughters’ feet with tight clothes to prevent proper growth, causing life long damage and pain for many Chinese girls. This NPR story has more details, if you’re interested, or take a look at these pictures.
Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China
Beyond the dangers of inhibited foot growth from not having the proper shoe fit, poorly fitted shoes can cause problems for athletes. If you are someone who enjoys jogging or running regularly, then you should be aware that the wrong size of training shoes can lead to a medical condition known as shin splints, including painful symptoms like swelling and numbness of the feet.
This Daily Mail article says it well:
Consultant podiatrist Mike O’Neill, from the College of Podiatry, warned that squeezing feet into smaller shoes can cause long-term damage including arthritis, stress fractures, and trapped nerves, which may even require surgery or steroid injections.
Obviously, we all want to look our best when we’re out on the town, at work, or just hanging out at the gym. But as we’ve seen, proper shoe fit is vitally important for keeping your feet relaxed and comfortable, as well as for avoiding permanent damage to the foundation of your body.