Just like the rest of our bodies, our feet are getting bigger, too. The average shoe size has increased by two whole sizes since the 1970s, according to a recent study from the College of Podiatry in the United Kingdom which was cited in the Wall Street Journal.
Since 1900, the average shoe size has grown four sizes for both men and women. For example, in 1900, the average woman wore size 3-1/2 or 4 shoes. By the 1940s, she was wearing a size 5-1/2. By the ‘70s, she wore a 7-1/2, and in the ‘80s, she was up to size 8-1/2. Now, she wears around a size 9.
And it’s not just podiatrists who’ve noticed that our feet are growing, in 2012, the National Shoe Retailers Association announced that American shoe sizes have increased in the last 30 years from size 7-1/2 to 8-1/2 for women and from size 9-1/2 to 10-1/2 for men. And various shoe manufacturers and retailers have noticed the continuing trend. Nordstrom has hosted special in-store events for customers wearing larger sizes, such as women’s size 14 and men’s size 20. Women’s shoe designer Stuart Weitzman says 30 years ago his company made shoes up to a size 10. Now, they’re making shoes up to a size 14.
Why are our feet getting bigger?
The main reason is that since 1900 Americans have gotten taller and heavier. Therefore, we need bigger feet to hold us up.
Some experts believe our increased foot size is due to nutritional changes over the past 100 years. Early American immigrants were shorter with smaller feet. But as these immigrants’ children began getting better nutrition and healthcare, they started growing taller and their feet started getting larger as well.
Also, there has been speculation that hormones have spurred children’s growth. When children eat more, their growth hormone is stimulated, causing them, and their feet, to grow. But no studies have proven this conclusively yet. However, when children with growth deficiencies are treated with growth hormones, their shoe size does increase, but it’s proportionate to their height.
Additionally, over the years, as more high-density and processed foods have been introduced into our diets, our height and weight have increased. And, therefore, our feet have gotten bigger, too.
Another theory some podiatrists have suggested is that our larger feet may be due to the rise of obesity in the U.S. Since we’re carrying extra weight on our bodies, our arches are prone to collapse which results in a flatter and bigger foot.
And, yet another theory suggests that our feet have elongated in the last 25 years, because Americans are wearing more casual, less-supportive shoes like flip-flops and ballet flats. Less-supportive shoes may affect the arches of people who may be genetically predisposed to develop flat feet, causing them to flatten.
Are Flat Feet or Fallen Arches Causing You Foot Pain?
If you have flat feet or fallen arches, or you overpronate when you walk, you may experience decreased stability in your knees, walk with a shorter stride and have poorer balance. Eventually, you may suffer from painful foot conditions like plantar fasciitis, arch pain, heel spurs or Achilles tendonitis.
First, you should have your feet and gait evaluated by a certified professional, like Kathy Carandang of the WalkEZStore, to determine if you do have flat feet or overpronation.
If this is confirmed, the WalkEZStore recommends that you:
- Wear supportive, well-fitted shoes. Refer to our Shoe Fitting Guide for more information.
- Wear ezWalker® Performance Custom Orthotics. These custom orthotics will provide you with the arch support you need to correction flat feet and overpronation. ezWalker® Custom Orthotics strategically raise the medial, lateral and trans-metatarsal arches of your feet, providing you with proper biomechanical support. Your feet will be guided to walk from lateral heel to medial forefoot, so you’ll have better balance and stability. And since each step you take will be controlled throughout the gait cycle, your feet will experience less stress and strain.
Since the introduction of the ezWalker® Performance Custom Orthotic in 2008, many people have reported improved foot health. Most cases have shown improvement in about a year, but some people have experienced changes for the better in as little as six months.
Because … when your feet feel good, you feel good.®