Do Footwear Choices Affect Foot Health?


Well-fitted footwear is one of the most vital components of foot care. Studies show that majority of the foot pathologies are associated with ill-fitted shoes/footwear!

Although the choice of footwear has a significant impact on everyone’s foot health, the elderly are more prone to have the adverse effects of ill-fitted shoes.

A study, involving people with a median age of 82 years, showed that incorrect shoe length was significantly associated with ulcers on the feet and foot pain. However, the risks of ulcers increase with the presence of peripheral vascular disease; improper footwear significantly adds to the risk. Foot pathologies not only cause pain but also restrict the daily activities of life. Moreover, this increases the risk of falls in older individuals and consequently leads to other fall-related injuries.

Well-fitted footgear is a complex subject. This is because of the diverse variation in the shape and sizes of feet among different individuals. Commercially, industries are unsuccessful in designing shoes conforming to the three-dimensional morphology of all feet in the population.

Besides, footwear choices are also variable among individuals. Some people choose an ill-fitted pair of shoes to follow the fashion while others’ choices are influenced by their profession.

A study showed that 45% of the participants were wearing small-for-size footwear; while 14% of the participants were wearing footgear half a size longer than their foot. Moreover, 64% of the participants were wearing narrower footwear.

It is not only the tight shoes that are guilty. Evidence also shows that even loose footwear can cause generalised foot pain.

Another study established a connection between incorrectly fitted footwear and ankle pain in women. Besides ankle pain, deformity of the lesser toe, ulceration, and bunion are also some of the other complications of improper shoes.

The importance of proper shoes is exponentially high in patients with diabetes and peripheral vascular diseases due to compromised blood supply to the feet. A study showed that the participants with active foot ulcers were 5 times more likely to be wearing incorrectly fitted shoes. In a nutshell, the consequences of ill-fitted shoes are greater in individuals with diabetes.

When comparing the choices of footwear and the consequences, studies found that women are more likely to have foot pain. This is largely attributable to the narrow toe box of the female footgear.

The above studies and their findings all unanimously point towards the importance of appropriate footwear to avoid complications including foot deformities, pain, ulcers, corns, and calluses.

Source: Buldt AK, Menz HB. Incorrectly fitted footwear, foot pain and foot disorders: a systematic search and narrative review of the literature. J Foot Ankle Res. 2018;11:43. Published 2018 Jul 28. doi:10.1186/s13047-018-0284-z

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Dr. Arsia Hanif has been a meritorious Healthcare professional with a proven track record throughout her academic life securing first position in her MCAT examination and then, in 2017, she successfully completed her Bachelors of Medicine and Surgery from Dow University of Health Sciences. She has had the opportunity to apply her theoretical knowledge to the real-life scenarios, as a House Officer (HO) serving at Civil Hospital. Whilst working at the Civil Hospital, she discovered that nothing satisfies her more than helping other humans in need and since then has made a commitment to implement her expertise in the field of medicine to cure the sick and regain the state of health and well-being. Being a Doctor is exactly what you’d think it’s like. She is the colleague at work that everyone wants to know but nobody wants to be. If you want to get something done, you approach her – everyone knows that! She is currently studying with Medical Council of Canada and aspires to be a leading Neurologist someday. Alongside, she has taken up medical writing to exercise her skills of delivering comprehensible version of the otherwise difficult medical literature. Her breaks comprise either of swimming, volunteering services at a Medical Camp or spending time with family.


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