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'90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

Posted by Julie on 8/07/02 at 02:38 (091815)

Yesterday evening, driving home from a class, I heard a programme all about....FEET. It was in the popular medicine'Leading Edge' series on our excellent BBC Radio 4 (formerly the Home Service in case any ageing Anglophiles are reading). The presenter, a doctor, talked to various foot specialists including a podiatric surgeon and an orthopaedic foot and ankle specialist. There was a fair amount of basic discussion of PF which I won't go into because there was nothing that most folks here don't already know.

What I do want to report is that the podiatrist stressed the importance of wearing the right shoes. Not just the right kind of shoes, but the right size.

He said that probably as many as 9 out of 10 of his patients are wearing shoes that are too small for them. Most people, he says, haven't had their feet measured for years, and they assume that their feet don't change. They say 'But I've always worn size 5'. But feet do change. He said that when he measures a patient's feet, he finds that the shoes they're wearing are almost invariably at least a half size too small.

Of course this can cause or contribute to all sorts of foot problems.

This seems so obvious, and yet we overlook it in our search for help (probably because it's so obvious). The answer, or part of the answer, may well be to let go of the notion that 'I've always worn this size' (and the vanity that holds us to it) and acknowledge that our feet may be bigger than we thought they were. The older we are, the more likely this is. For instance: when I arrived in London at age 26 I wore an English size 5 (6 1/2 American). It crept up over the years and I'm now, at 67, an English 6 1/2 (that's about 8 1/2 - 9 American). Sure I hated to admit it, but my feet like it.

This may be something we have to take responsibility for (since shoe stores don't measure feet any more - here, at any rate) and listen to our feet when we try on shoes in the size we've 'always' worn.

The podiatrist also stressed the importance of wearing shoes the right shape. What's that?

You guessed it. Foot shape.

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

john h on 8/07/02 at 09:38 (091822)

Julie when I was 21 I wore an 8 1/2 D. I now wear either a 10 1/2D or 11 D. I guess if you lived long enouhg you would have feet like Shaquelle O'neill.

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

Julie on 8/07/02 at 10:53 (091832)

Who he? (Or she?)

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

Shaira on 8/07/02 at 10:58 (091833)

He's a basketball player with huge feet.

But that is a really good point about foot size changing! At the NB store they sized my feet electronically and I just about died when I saw I was an 8 1/2!!!! I remember being a 7 at one point, then a 7 1/2, then 8 (sometimes), now an 8 1/2!!

I wonder if it's because I'm fatter as well?

Re: Julie, do you have a mail order sizing rule?

elliott on 8/07/02 at 11:26 (091841)

I frequently do mail order, often the only way to get a certain shoe/sandal. There is, of course, great variabilty in fit and even labelling of sizing from one company or line to the next (e.g. one company's 47 is another's 45.5). If one is a half-size and the shoe/sandal comes only in whole sizes, given no other info as to that company's or shoe's fit, or even given it fits true to size, is it better to size up or size down? I'd tend to say size up for the shoe, down for the sandal, but I don't know; I do a lot of returns.

--

Re: Elliott

Julie on 8/07/02 at 11:37 (091843)

I don't know, Elliott: the only shoes I've ever ordered through the mail are Birk Arizonas, and I knew my size because I'd bought my first pair in the Birk store. Maybe someone else has some idea?

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

Julie on 8/07/02 at 11:51 (091849)

Thanks, Shaira, for the enlightenment. I'm a bit out of touch with American basketball, having lived in England since 1961.

I'm sure added weight does help the feet to spread - it and age are probably the major factors.

I know the feeling of horror!

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

Pauline on 8/07/02 at 13:48 (091859)

Julie,
Good post about size. It's really a shame that when your measured for shoes and it says your a 9 1/2 you usually have to change up or down from what you measured. Some manufacturers automatically drop sizes or make only whole sizes like your foot size doesn't exist in the world

In the 'old' days it seems a size 7 shoe was a true size 7. Not any more.

I notice in most of the Running Shoe Catalogs they always tell you to size up 1/2 or 1 whole size depending on the shoe. Why can't they just make a 7 shoe a true 7.

If most of Europe can have a common currency and the all the U.S. states share the same green back it would be possible for all size shoe sizes to be the same. They used to be able to do it.

Is that tooooo much to ask?

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

Julie on 8/07/02 at 15:04 (091867)

Alas, it does seem like too much to ask, Pauline. It's not only manufacturers who are at fault. Even when they make half sizes, retailers often stock only full sizes: their excuse is lack of space.

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

john h on 8/07/02 at 18:13 (091888)

Julie: Shaquelle or Shaq as he is known is the most famous basketball player in our country at the moment. He is about 7'2' tall, weighs in around 330 Lb and his shoe size must easily be an 18.

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

Suzanne D on 8/08/02 at 15:35 (091995)

Thanks for sharing this, Julie. It makes sense. I know I wore a 10 in high school which was almost impossible to get in my small town. The stores usually stopped with 9's. Now I wear an 11, and before PF when I sometimes tried on 'cheap shoes', I often found out the 11's didn't fit. An SAS 11 is fine now, but other shoes aren't the same.

I remember the days when your foot was always measured when shoe shopping. Now it seems that most salespersons hope you don't even ask them a question, let alone measure your feet!

Thanks for sharing what you heard.

Suzanne :-)

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

Lara T on 8/08/02 at 18:11 (092018)

Shaquille isn't just a basketball player with large feet. He is practically a giant. He dwarfs some of the professional basketball players. He's over 7 feet tall and over 300 pounds. For comparison, Michael Jordan (probably the best professional basketball player ever, unless Shaquille surpasses him before he retires) is 6'6' and 198 pounds. Magic Johnson was 6'9' and 250 pounds.

Re: For Julie - '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

yasmin from london on 8/10/02 at 17:32 (092143)

Julie,

Who was this specialist? I am having difficulty in findind a pod that is willing to help me. Also have you been to the London Pod centre? Do u know if they are any good?

Yasmin

Re: For Yasmin

Julie on 8/11/02 at 05:01 (092170)

Hi Yasmin

I can't remember the name of the podiatrist on the programme, but the BBC could tell you. The 'feet' discussion was on the 'Leading Edge' programme last Tuesday.

Yes, I saw Ron McCulloch at the London Podiatry Centre two years ago, and have since recommended him on this board to others who live in London. Yes, I think he is a good podiatrist. He is experienced and knowledgeable, and he has the necessary equipment for evaluation and diagnosis. He is head of Podiatric Medicine at Guys, and consultant to two football teams.

He was certainly a help to me, and to one of my students who developed PF and went to him at my suggestion. If I have a reservation about him it's that he is probably a bit too enthusiastic about surgery and wasn't interested in ESWT, but it's a long time since I've seen or talked to him, and that may have changed.

I would certainly go back to him if I needed a podiatrist again.

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

Ed Davis, DPM on 8/11/02 at 11:21 (092187)

Julie:

Shoe fitting/sizing is a bigger problem than many are willing to admit. The podiatry profession strayed from this important area in its efforts to move ahead into more complex surgery. I still remember a classmate when I was in school declare that he wanted to do as much with shoes as a psychiatrist has to do with hats. Probably an extreme example but that statement did typify the attitudes of many in my generation of foot docs. The gap we left created the need for a new profession, pedorthists, who professionally fit, modify and create shows and orhtotics.
Ed

Re: For Julie - Thanks

yasmin from london on 8/12/02 at 18:40 (092305)

Hi Julie

Thanks for the info, i'll will email u regarding the yoga, i also have a few other questions to ask you about PF, i hope its okay to mail you them as well.

Yasmin

Re: For Julie - Thanks

Julie on 8/13/02 at 02:13 (092331)

That's fine, Yasmin: I look forward to hearing from you.

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

john h on 8/07/02 at 09:38 (091822)

Julie when I was 21 I wore an 8 1/2 D. I now wear either a 10 1/2D or 11 D. I guess if you lived long enouhg you would have feet like Shaquelle O'neill.

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

Julie on 8/07/02 at 10:53 (091832)

Who he? (Or she?)

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

Shaira on 8/07/02 at 10:58 (091833)

He's a basketball player with huge feet.

But that is a really good point about foot size changing! At the NB store they sized my feet electronically and I just about died when I saw I was an 8 1/2!!!! I remember being a 7 at one point, then a 7 1/2, then 8 (sometimes), now an 8 1/2!!

I wonder if it's because I'm fatter as well?

Re: Julie, do you have a mail order sizing rule?

elliott on 8/07/02 at 11:26 (091841)

I frequently do mail order, often the only way to get a certain shoe/sandal. There is, of course, great variabilty in fit and even labelling of sizing from one company or line to the next (e.g. one company's 47 is another's 45.5). If one is a half-size and the shoe/sandal comes only in whole sizes, given no other info as to that company's or shoe's fit, or even given it fits true to size, is it better to size up or size down? I'd tend to say size up for the shoe, down for the sandal, but I don't know; I do a lot of returns.

--

Re: Elliott

Julie on 8/07/02 at 11:37 (091843)

I don't know, Elliott: the only shoes I've ever ordered through the mail are Birk Arizonas, and I knew my size because I'd bought my first pair in the Birk store. Maybe someone else has some idea?

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

Julie on 8/07/02 at 11:51 (091849)

Thanks, Shaira, for the enlightenment. I'm a bit out of touch with American basketball, having lived in England since 1961.

I'm sure added weight does help the feet to spread - it and age are probably the major factors.

I know the feeling of horror!

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

Pauline on 8/07/02 at 13:48 (091859)

Julie,
Good post about size. It's really a shame that when your measured for shoes and it says your a 9 1/2 you usually have to change up or down from what you measured. Some manufacturers automatically drop sizes or make only whole sizes like your foot size doesn't exist in the world

In the 'old' days it seems a size 7 shoe was a true size 7. Not any more.

I notice in most of the Running Shoe Catalogs they always tell you to size up 1/2 or 1 whole size depending on the shoe. Why can't they just make a 7 shoe a true 7.

If most of Europe can have a common currency and the all the U.S. states share the same green back it would be possible for all size shoe sizes to be the same. They used to be able to do it.

Is that tooooo much to ask?

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

Julie on 8/07/02 at 15:04 (091867)

Alas, it does seem like too much to ask, Pauline. It's not only manufacturers who are at fault. Even when they make half sizes, retailers often stock only full sizes: their excuse is lack of space.

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

john h on 8/07/02 at 18:13 (091888)

Julie: Shaquelle or Shaq as he is known is the most famous basketball player in our country at the moment. He is about 7'2' tall, weighs in around 330 Lb and his shoe size must easily be an 18.

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

Suzanne D on 8/08/02 at 15:35 (091995)

Thanks for sharing this, Julie. It makes sense. I know I wore a 10 in high school which was almost impossible to get in my small town. The stores usually stopped with 9's. Now I wear an 11, and before PF when I sometimes tried on 'cheap shoes', I often found out the 11's didn't fit. An SAS 11 is fine now, but other shoes aren't the same.

I remember the days when your foot was always measured when shoe shopping. Now it seems that most salespersons hope you don't even ask them a question, let alone measure your feet!

Thanks for sharing what you heard.

Suzanne :-)

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

Lara T on 8/08/02 at 18:11 (092018)

Shaquille isn't just a basketball player with large feet. He is practically a giant. He dwarfs some of the professional basketball players. He's over 7 feet tall and over 300 pounds. For comparison, Michael Jordan (probably the best professional basketball player ever, unless Shaquille surpasses him before he retires) is 6'6' and 198 pounds. Magic Johnson was 6'9' and 250 pounds.

Re: For Julie - '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

yasmin from london on 8/10/02 at 17:32 (092143)

Julie,

Who was this specialist? I am having difficulty in findind a pod that is willing to help me. Also have you been to the London Pod centre? Do u know if they are any good?

Yasmin

Re: For Yasmin

Julie on 8/11/02 at 05:01 (092170)

Hi Yasmin

I can't remember the name of the podiatrist on the programme, but the BBC could tell you. The 'feet' discussion was on the 'Leading Edge' programme last Tuesday.

Yes, I saw Ron McCulloch at the London Podiatry Centre two years ago, and have since recommended him on this board to others who live in London. Yes, I think he is a good podiatrist. He is experienced and knowledgeable, and he has the necessary equipment for evaluation and diagnosis. He is head of Podiatric Medicine at Guys, and consultant to two football teams.

He was certainly a help to me, and to one of my students who developed PF and went to him at my suggestion. If I have a reservation about him it's that he is probably a bit too enthusiastic about surgery and wasn't interested in ESWT, but it's a long time since I've seen or talked to him, and that may have changed.

I would certainly go back to him if I needed a podiatrist again.

Re: '90 percent of people are wearing the wrong size shoes'

Ed Davis, DPM on 8/11/02 at 11:21 (092187)

Julie:

Shoe fitting/sizing is a bigger problem than many are willing to admit. The podiatry profession strayed from this important area in its efforts to move ahead into more complex surgery. I still remember a classmate when I was in school declare that he wanted to do as much with shoes as a psychiatrist has to do with hats. Probably an extreme example but that statement did typify the attitudes of many in my generation of foot docs. The gap we left created the need for a new profession, pedorthists, who professionally fit, modify and create shows and orhtotics.
Ed

Re: For Julie - Thanks

yasmin from london on 8/12/02 at 18:40 (092305)

Hi Julie

Thanks for the info, i'll will email u regarding the yoga, i also have a few other questions to ask you about PF, i hope its okay to mail you them as well.

Yasmin

Re: For Julie - Thanks

Julie on 8/13/02 at 02:13 (092331)

That's fine, Yasmin: I look forward to hearing from you.