by Jerick Sobie, Board Certified Pedorthist
What people don’t realize is that your foot changes shape and length over time as an adult.
Although a woman may be a size 8 in her twenties, it does not mean she’s still the same size in her thirties and beyond. This goes for men too.
The shoes we’ve worn, the environment that we walk on, and time spent on our feet affect what happens to them. Many people’s feet get larger because over time their arches start to flatten out. Also, people’s feet get wider for various reasons: weight gain, pregnancy, wearing heels and/or flip-flops (I’ll go into further detail below), and the constant pounding our feet take walking in this concrete jungle.
Wearing heels causes all the weight to be placed on the balls of the feet. That pressure and the fact that most high heels do not absorb the impact very well, cause the foot to flatten and spread out. Another culprit that wreaks havoc on your feet is flip-flops. The majority of flip-flops available offer no support or absorb the impact when the foot strikes the ground. That means your feet, knees, hip, and back take the brunt of the force.
So if your feet have changed and you are wearing shoes that are too small for your feet, then you are inviting foot problems like: bunions, corns, metatarsalgia, morton’s neuroma, hammer toes, cross-over toes, and many other issues. This is why it’s important to have your feet measured when you go shopping for shoes. The person measuring your feet should not only measure the length (heel to toe) but also heel-to-ball and the width. This should be done both sitting and standing.
The reason for this is to see how much arch flexibility the person has when going from non-weight bearing to weight-bearing positions. Both feet should be measured (heel to toe, heel to ball and width) because one foot is usually longer than the other; some people have ½ to 2 sizes difference between their feet. Here at Lucky Feet Shoes™ we take the time to measure your feet because we know how important it is to get appropriately-size footwear.
Another thing to remember is that there is no standardization in shoe sizes. A size 8 on one shoe can be a 7.5 to 8.5 in another brand. Same thing goes for width. You can be a medium on one brand and a wide on another. So, find the size that fits you. Don’t have a preconceived notion that you will always be one size.
Remember, the shoes need to feel comfortable not only when standing but also when walking. If your big toe is right at the end of the shoe when standing, chances are that after walking awhile you will not feel as comfortable. Your foot expands and contracts when walking. If you are walking for a while, your foot can expand, anywhere from 1/8 to one full size.
That means if you bought shoes that fit snug when standing, you are not going to feel as comfortable at the end of the day and if you do this for a long enough time, you can get any of the foot ailments I previously discussed. Don’t assume that a shoe will stretch as you use it. Your toes need to be able to move in the shoe.
There are many types of shoes that people wear for work, exercise and every day use. A good, comfortable shoe should support your feet and help absorb the impact when you are standing and walking. That means that the shoe should usually bend right behind the toes (there are some exceptions such as clogs and rocker-bottom shoes), which helps when pushing off with your toes, but it should not bend in the middle. That’s where your arch resides. If the shoe bends in the middle then it’s going to bend when walking, running or standing and that means your arches are going to take more of the impact.
The old adage, “You get what you pay for” applies when selecting good, comfortable shoes. The cheaper the shoe, the less quality material is used and the less they will help your feet. For example, compare a New Balance shoe in the 500 model number series to one in the 1100 or 1200’s and you’ll see a big difference. The higher end series costs more but uses higher quality material and additional features that make your feet feel more comfortable and won’t breakdown as quickly as the cheaper shoes.
This applies up to a point, of course. There are many expensive shoes that look good but are not comfortable shoes that will help your feet in the long run. This is why you need to go to a place, such as Lucky Feet Shoes™, that carries a wide variety of footwear that is selected for comfort and style. Shoes need to do what they were intended to do, protect and support your feet.