Feet are Not Created Equal

Feet are Not Created Equal

When it comes to feet, Atlanta Foot and Leg Specialists, with four offices serving patients in Fulton County, Cobb County, Douglas County, Fayette County, Henry County, and Clayton County, recognizes that men and women are not created equal. In honor of Mother’s Day, your south Atlanta area podiatrists are focusing on why women’s feet are not just smaller forms of men’s feet. Why should women’s athletic shoes, for example, be designed as mere smaller scaled versions of men’s athletic shoes? Men and women carry their weight differently, so shouldn’t their shoes be designed to accommodate those stress points? There is a definite distinction between foot and leg anatomy, and as podiatrists, American Foot and Leg Specialists promotes the principle that each and every patient experiences and responds to anatomical conditions differently. A one-size-fits-all approach is not sufficient when it comes to our patients care.

Women’s Shoe Styles are Only One Factor

The majority of traditional research on foot and ankle pain, deformities, and injuries has focused on the difference in the types of shoes worn by the different sexes. Shoe style is the most cited external factor resulting in women’s foot and ankle fractures and injuries. But limited attention has been allocated to studying the intrinsic physical differences in the structure of men’s and women’s feet, which are numerous.

Intrinsic Factors: Underlying factors that can elicit a predisposition for pain and injury in females include biological differences in: foot structure, muscle strength, ligament laxity, and women’s sense of themselves in terms of body position, movement and acceleration. Most notable are significant differences in arch shape, size of the lateral side of the foot, great toe, and ball of the foot. Women also tend to have a wider forefoot, shorter arch length, and shorter toes compared to men. MRI analyses also indicate that women’s feet usually exhibit thinner cartilage and lower surface area and volume in the foot and ankle joints.

Gait Differences. Women and men exhibit significant differences in how they walk and run. Studies have shown that women have a greater range of motion of the ankle and foot flexibility, presumably because women’s ligaments are looser than men’s. Have you noticed that most women are more flexible than men – it results in differences in the manner of movement and foot flexion. However, too much ligament laxity can cause chronic body pain, especially in the foot and leg.

Leave The Glass Slippers for Cinderella

It’s difficult not to notice that in the fashion world, a comfortable women’s shoe that really accommodates the foot is usually flat out unattractive. The currently fashionable very high-heeled shoe, combined with a narrow toe box causes two major consequences besides aching feet, including: increased pressure and weight on the balls of the feet; and the crunching of toes together in a tight space. This unnatural foot position causes even more ailments – bunions of all sizes and locations, hammer toes, corns and calluses, blisters, and even neuromas in severe cases.

Bunions. Because big feet aren’t considered as feminine in the fashion world, and walking in high heels is tough when they slip off while taking those tiny, careful steps, studies show that almost all women have worn shoes that are too little to accommodate their true foot shape. And all for the sake of attractiveness, women are up to four times more likely to develop bunions than men, likely due to a combination of anatomical features and footwear choices. In fact, it is estimated that up to 70% of women suffer from a bunion. And chances of developing bunions increases as one ages.

Hammer Toe Woes. Because of improperly fitting shoes and anatomy, it has been documented that the incidence of hammer toe is four to five times more common in women. And hammer toes then make wearing any shoe uncomfortable.

Other Shoe Related Aches, Pains and Injuries. Shoes that aren’t properly fitting and which have more than a 1-1/2 inch increase knee torque when walking, subsequently resulting in an increase of knee osteoarthritis among women who prefer higher-heeled shoes. In addition, if it hurts to move while you are wearing shoes, it hampers your mobility and gait, thereby increasing the risk of falling, tripping, turning an ankle or other injury.

In short, unnatural foot and arch position: a lack of stability; overly stiff footwear, (such as hard based clogs and platform shoes); or excessive flexibility in a shoe, such as a slipper, are associated in an increased incidence of tripping and falls, as well as ankle ligament injuries. It has also been suggested that inflammation caused by wearing uncomfortable, ill-fitting shoes every day for decades may even distract the body from general DNA repair and cancer prevention.

What Does American Foot and Leg Specialists Foot Doctors Recommend?

American Foot and Leg Specialists promotes incorporating the structural differences between men’s and women’s feet into the design and manufacturing of women’s shoes. Even athletic shoes and “comfort “ shoes touted for healthy mobility aren’t good for the body if they are too high heeled or stiff. Here are your podiatrists’ recommendations:

•   Avoid a pointy, super-narrow toe-box. The less space for toes, the greater chances of developing bunions and neuromas—and the more pressure is placed on toes when you’re upright.

•   Opened-back, slide-on footwear requires toe gripping that can lead to hammer toes and foot tension. Find a style with straps that keep the shoe attached to your heel to give your toes a rest.

•   If your ankles wobble with each step, you need either more hip strength or a better-shaped heel. You are no longer a child wearing mommy’s shoes playing dress up.

•   Dropping an inch off your usual heel height can go a long way in improve the condition of your feet, knees, and even your back. It may vary according to your height, but it is recommended to keep heel height below 2 inches. The ideal height is no heel. Placing your feet at any angle does some damage.

•   Invest in a pair of solidly made flats or boots that cushion the pressure points and provide a nice heel cup.

•   Browse our Product Store for ball of foot, toe, heel, bunion and corn padding, correction and protection, orthotic insoles, and ointments/creams to improve your shoe wearing experience.

There’s nothing like walking out in a pair of shoes that make you feel confident, sexy and comfortable. Too-small or too-big shoes can make walking uncomfortable, cause blisters or cut into your feet. It’s important to wear comfortable shoes, but you also want to keep up with the trends and look as great as you feel. When you’re looking for comfortable stylish shoes, you have a lot of really fantastic options available. Check out our spring and summer lines of shoes designed for diabetic feet and maximum comfort at either of our Stockbridge, Fayetteville, Locust Grove or Atlanta locations. It is possible to be stylish and comfortable at the same time.