Breaking News: Shoe Sizes Aren’t Getting Smaller

Breaking News: Shoe Sizes Aren’t Getting Smaller on

The incredible (mythological) shrinking shoe

It seems impossible. We’ve been taught since grade school that human growth typically halts shortly after puberty, so why did your shoes stop fitting?

It seems impossible. We’ve been taught since grade school that human growth typically halts shortly after puberty, so why did your shoes stop fitting?

Your fifth-grade science teacher didn’t lead you astray. Unlike the nose and ears, which are cartilage based and do continue growing throughout the lifecycle, feet don’t necessarily get bigger as much as they simply take up more space. The daily pressure of walking, running, jumping, waiting in line, etc., gradually stretches the tendons that forms your arch (the plantar fascia), causing the arch to drop, and the foot to lengthen.

Your expanding feet can mean more than just a wardrobe adjustment. As the arch flattens, the big toe tends to rise, causing discomfort all on its own, especially when wearing tighter footwear. A lower arch can also lead to bunions, a painful, boney protuberance that sometimes requires surgical treatment. The good news is: you can adjust before those ailments manifest!

Cinderella’s nightmare

Throughout history, and across cultures, there seems to be a somewhat silly gravitation toward smaller footwear simply for the sake of aesthetics. Despite what Disney might have you think, there’s no reward for jamming your toes into your time-withstanding favorite pumps, or into a size seven when you’re a nine. The fact of the matter is, properly fitted shoes can allow your feet, along with your posture and gait, to age gracefully.

Still not ready to up your shoe size? You’re in luck. While medical science hasn’t resolved foot expansion, there are ways to slow it down, while contributing to overall foot health and mobility.

  • Lose weight. Easier said than done, right? Obviously, the less you weigh, the less pressure there is on the plantar fascia, thereby preserving the arch. Of course, losing those extra pounds can be tricky. Fortunately, with a few manageable tweaks to your diet, and discovering an activity that you enjoy beyond the workout it provides, losing weight isn’t as tough as you might think.
  • Wear supportive shoes. Shoes with firm arch support share the load with the tendons in your feet, preventing some of the stretching, and can help keep you fresh for a relaxing stroll through the park.
  • Custom orthotics. If standard support is good, a shoe insert precisely contoured to the unique shape of your foot can only be better. The hug-tight fit prevents additional impact created from poorly fitted arch support, and the firmness can be customized for your gait and desired functionality.
  • Step into some house-shoes. While it’s nice going barefoot, if you’re concerned about foot growth, you might consider replacing normally shoe-less time by wearing arch-supportive sandals or slippers.
  • Good old fashioned arch supports. If fitted shoes or customized orthotics aren’t in your budget, arch support inserts are an inexpensive way of giving your feet a helping hand!

Don’t neglect a change in foot size

Aging isn’t the only cause of enlarged feet. Swelling in the feet and ankles can be a sign of poor circulation and other cardiovascular problems. So, if you’re noticing a change in your feet, contact your physician right away.

Even if it’s simply a case of age-associated growth, keeping tabs on your foot health is key to preventing long term problems associated with expanding feet. If you have questions about orthotics, footwear, or are ready for your annual visit, contact our friendly staff to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nina Coletta today!