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If the shoe fits ....

...don't try to squeeze a size seven on a size-eight foot. Shoe size alone, however, is not the only determinant of foot comfort.

Most of us--and probably all of us--subject our feet to abnormal wear and tear because of, for example, style considerations. However, not all foot disorders are the result of improperly designed or fitted shoes. Hammertoe, for example, is a congenital deformity.

Although men have their share of foot maladies, women have more, not only because of the sometimes bizarre styles available but also because of their physical make-up. The wider female pelvis and a tendency toward looser and more flexible joint structures make women more susceptible to foot problems.

A major problem is the bunion, resulting from shoes whose shape does not conform to the normal shape of the foot. The narrow, pointed toes of women's shoes cause the large toe to bend so out of shape that eventually only surgery will correct the condition. So common is the problem and so diversified the corrective approaches that some 140 different surgical procedures have been advocated over the years to restore the affected toe to normalcy. The essential process is to move the metatarsal bone of the big toe back into its normal position--a procedure from which recovery lasts two-and-a-half months.

The so-called heel spur is another common problem. Originally thought to be a bony deformity as seen on x-ray, the problem results from the bone being aggravated by tightening of the calf muscle, which produces the pain. Stretching exercises and better-fitting shoes usually relieve the condition.

The most obvious culprit in women's shoe design is the heel. Men have never been able to figure out why women seem to prefer tiptoeing about on miniature stilts--but we do admit it adds more charm to their walk. Theoretically, a flat shoe should provide better balance to the foot, but some persons require a slightly higher heel for comfort. The recommended heel height is one to one-and-a-half inches, with a toe box wide enough to accommodate the foot comfortably.

To avoid sprains, a sling back is more practical. Also, shop for shoes at the end of the day, when the foot has had all its usual pressures and has stretched to its maximum length and width. The foot and ankle joints make up a wondrously complex mechanism that must bear one's full weight from morning to night. So give your feet a break by paying more attention to the things in which you encase them.
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Title Annotation:finding the right size shoe and caring for the feet
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Aug 1, 1993
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