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