So many of my patients are complaining that their feet are just too big! This is especially true of women! I had a high school girl in my office just this week complaining that she was just not going to wear a size 12 shoe; when I told her mother her foot problem was due to her shoes being too small. Well, I hate to break it to her, but today’s size 12 is yesterday’s size 10!
It turns out that the average American is now taller, fatter, and has bigger feet than their counterparts in 1960’s. The average woman was a size 6.5 in 1960; now she’s an 8.5-9! Her foot is also wider and slightly flatter.
Why is this evolutionary change happening? Why are we growing bigger feet? Part of the explanation is good: better nutrition and better medical care. Children are growing taller and this growth also extends their shoe size. Part of the explanation is not such a good thing: increased obesity, especially in children, is causing our feet to have lower arches, spreading them out wider and slightly longer.
So are there any downsides to bigger feet except the number on the box? Yes, many people tend to cram their bigger feet in shoes that don’t fit either because of denial of their true size or really just because of availability. It used to be very rare to be a size 12 in woman’s shoes. Now that’s a more common size, but it’s still is scarce on the retail shelves. And forget it if you need a size 12 wide! That’s special order! Wearing shoes that are too small can cause all kinds of foot problems. It can cause bunions, hammertoes, ingrown toenails and neuromas - just to name a few.
So our tip of the day is to measure your feet every time you buy shoes, and to wear the proper size, even if you need to take white-out to the number so you can stomach it! Always, always measure you children’s feet before buying them shoes. They change so rapidly you may not notice a size or two growth. If you need help with shoe sizes, please feel free to ask the staff at Healthy Steps, at our Grapevine and Keller offices, to assist you!
Yes, our feet are on the average two sizes bigger than just 4 decades ago, but a good upside is that we are also living longer!