Look down at your feet for a moment and consider all that these relatively small appendages are responsible for — supporting your body, balance, and mobility. Given this enormous workload, it makes sense that you do what you can to support your feet.
Unfortunately, many people accomplish quite the opposite by wearing ill-fitting or improper footwear. And we’re not just talking about high heels — one meta-analysis of numerous studies found that “between 63 and 72% of participants were wearing shoes that did not accommodate either width or length dimensions of their feet.”
To paint a clearer picture, Dr. David J. Kaplan and the team here at FootCare Specialists, Inc., pulled together six conditions that stem from ill-fitting footwear.
People often think of bunions as just bony protrusions at the base of the big toe, but the condition is caused when your metatarsophalangeal joint is out of alignment. This misalignment can occur for several reasons, but leading the charge are shoes that crowd your toes.
Bunions cause a progressive shift in your ligaments, bones, and tendons. Swapping out your footwear to better accommodate your toes can prevent irreversible changes that only surgery can correct.
Another condition that’s closely linked with ill-fitting shoes is a Morton’s neuroma. This problem occurs when tissue surrounding a nerve in the ball of your foot thickens and creates symptoms that range from discomfort to pain. In many cases, the Morton’s neuroma is the result of wearing high heels or shoes that are too tight.
While not medically serious (unless you have diabetes), an ingrown toenail can cause a good deal of pain. This condition often affects your big toe and occurs when your nail grows into the flesh along the sides. While some people are more prone to ingrown toenails because of overly curved nails, others develop the condition because of shoes that crowd the toes.
The formation of calluses and corns can be quite uncomfortable. These conditions occur when there’s too much friction or pressure against a certain area (think balls of your feet). In most cases, ill-fitting shoes are the culprits behind corns and calluses.
When there’s an imbalance in the muscles and tendons in your foot, a hammertoe can form. Ill-fitting shoes can encourage this imbalance and aggravate existing hammertoes.
Thanks to nerve damage, people with diabetes need to be hypervigilant about the health of their feet. If someone with diabetes wears ill-fitting shoes, they run the risk of developing blisters that turn into open sores, which can become much larger problems if they don’t heal properly.
While we understand how a great pair of shoes can really make an outfit, if these shoes damage your feet, is it worth it? Besides, more manufacturers than ever make fashion-forward footwear that checks the foot health box, as well.
To learn more about finding the right footwear, contact one of our offices in San Mateo or Half Moon Bay, California, to set up an appointment by phone or online.