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Do you want healthy feet? Stop wearing tight shoes!


Feet. Photo: Ebony and Indigo

Your footwear can undoubtedly reveal many things about you. Maybe you are the flashy type who has a penchant for wearing only super expensive designer shoes. Or perhaps you are extremely laid back and a basic pair of sandals are your go-to footwear of choice for all occasions. No matter your taste in shoes though, one thing is certain – wearing the correct size really matters!

Research from the College of Podiatry in the UK, found that in a sample of 2000 study participants, around 50% of women and 33% of men revealed that they have worn shoes that were not their actual size. Do these statistics come as a surprise? Think about your own personal journey and relationship with shoes. At some point or another most of us have unfortunately experienced squeezing our feet into uncomfortable shoes that just weren’t the proper fit. Frequently doing this though can ultimately come with several health consequences.

You must understand that your feet can change in both shape and size over time. Nonetheless, your shoe size in your teens and 20s may very well be different at older age. It is therefore imperative to have your feet measured routinely as a good starting point to ensure you are wearing the correct size shoes. In doing so, you can take proper care of your feet and avoid some of the following foot conditions and deformities that may develop when you wear tight shoes.


1. Dermatophyte (Fungal) infections
Wearing tight shoes that don’t give your feet any room to breathe is never a good idea. If your feet are enclosed in tight shoes, it may create a warm and humid environment leading to increased foot sweating, irritation, and potentially fungal growth. Tinea pedis is a fungal infection of the feet which typically grows in warm and sweat-enclosed environments. If you have this fungal infection, you may note scaling or peeling lesions of the skin, extreme itchiness, and excessive redness. The infection even has the potential to move to the toenails causing the nails to look extremely thickened with yellow discoloration. Although foot fungus can be treated with topical anti-fungal medication or oral drugs, it is important to note that the condition does not just disappear over night. For some people, it can take several months before the infection clears.

2. Toe Nail Injury (Subungual hematoma)
Blood may possibly start to pool under a toenail due to the excessive friction caused by wearing shoes that are too tight. This may lead to the nail taking on a black or darkened color. In very severe cases, your doctor may need to perform a trephination procedure in which they drill a tiny hole in your nail to allow the blood to be released from under the nail bed. Athletes involved in sports that require a lot of running are at risk for this type of toenail injury if they do not wear appropriately-fitted footwear while working out.


3. Onychocryptosis (Ingrown toenails)
All this means is that there is growth of your toenail into your skin. Ingrown toenails can cause inflammation, extreme pain, and redness of the surrounding region. Initial steps for treatment may sometimes involve soaking the affected toe in warm water to relieve some symptoms of inflammation and swelling. If left untreated, then there is always the possibility of infection of the toenail. If you develop an ingrown toenail and experience pain coupled with pus draining from the area, then that is a likely sign of infection. At that point, you should definitely see a doctor to determine if antibiotics are warranted.

4. Bunions
This is a foot deformity in which a bump (hallux valgus) may develop alongside the joint of the big toe. Bunions tend to be more prevalent in women and wearing tight narrow high heel shoes can be a major culprit contributing to the condition. Bunions may be treated conservatively or with surgical intervention. Conservative management may involve icing the affected area, applying appropriate cushioning around the bunion, and taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication for pain.

These are just a few of the many possible foot ailments you may encounter when you wear shoes that don’t fit well. So, if you are thinking about managing those tight shoes that you know are a punishment to your feet, it’s really not worth the many problems that may potentially arise down the line. Give your feet the tender love and care they deserve and invest in well fitted supportive shoes to help maintain optimal foot health.

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