Your feet provide a vital service every day, and we often take them for granted despite all the stress and work we put them through. The health of your feet can impact the health of your entire body, which means you'll want to take a load off and read these 15 fascinating foot health facts.
1. Your Shoe Size May Change Over Time
Research suggests your feet grow your entire life, which is why you might wear a size seven when you're a teenager but end up needing a size eight when you hit your forties. According to The Cleveland Clinic, the pounding your feet take throughout your lifetime, as well as gravity, may change their shape and make them longer and wider.
An essential part of keeping your feet comfortable and healthy is regularly measuring them for changes so the shoes you buy don't cause you pain with every step. Ill-fitting shoes may lead to all sorts of problems like blisters, bunions, and ingrown toenails.
2. Take Care If You Have Morton's Toe
Is your second toe longer than your first toe or big toe? If so, you may have a condition called Morton's toe or Morton's foot. This condition isn't rare, and if you don't have it, you probably know someone who does. If you have Morton's toe, you may experience some extra aches and pains in your foot, but the news isn't all bad for those who have the condition.
One study indicates that Morton's toe may help those interested in becoming professional athletes. However, if you experience toe pain from Morton's toe, a new pair of shoes or physical therapy may help. Some people may also benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet.
3. The Average American Walks 3,000 to 4,000 Steps Every Day
According to statistics from The Mayo Clinic, the average American walks 3,000 to 4,000 steps each day. That's around 1.5 to 2 miles. If you work at a desk job, you might walk less. If you're a warehouse employee or work at a physically demanding job, you might walk many miles every day.
A study published in JAMA indicates that 7,000 steps a day might be the "sweet spot" for health benefits and walking. In the study, middle-aged people who walked at least 7,000 steps every day were far less likely to die in the next decade. If you want to reach 7,000 steps a day, make sure your shoes are comfortable and treat your feet well!
4. Size Your Feet at the End of the Day
Now that you know that your feet will increase in size throughout your lifetime, you should also note that your feet will get a little bigger by the end of each day before returning to their standard size overnight. For the best fitting shoes, you should measure your feet at the end of the day.
Some activities can cause your feet to swell tremendously. For example, running a marathon (even if you're not an elite runner) can cause your foot to swell to a full size larger by the end of the race. Don't risk painful blisters and bunions with shoes too small for your feet. Get your feet sized at the end of the day.
5. Your Feet Can Help You Diagnose Medical Problems
Your heart isn't in your feet, but your feet can tell you when something's wrong in your chest. If your toes curl upward, that might be a sign of heart disease. Upward curling toes may also indicate Crohn's disease or lung disease. Some stroke patients suggest that their toes curl under after having a stroke.
Your toes aren't the only parts of your feet that can tell you about your health. You might have high blood pressure if you have swollen feet or ankles. If your feet are cold, you could have an issue with your thyroid.
6. Arthritis May Start in Your Feet
Everyone knows an active lifestyle is one of the keys to a long and healthy life, but sometimes our bad eating habits get the best of us, and we gain weight. Unfortunately, extra weight on your body may lead to arthritis, and the first place your arthritis might manifest itself is in your feet.
There is no cure for arthritis, but you can treat it by wearing supportive shoes with good arch support. The shoes shouldn't be too rigid, but they shouldn't be too flexible either. Doctors recommend walking regularly as a low-impact option for exercising with arthritis in the feet.
7. Millions of People have Flat Feet
The problem of flat feet occurs when the entire foot touches the ground, and there is no arch near the center of the foot. Sometimes referred to as "fallen arches," people who walk with excessive rolling inward of the feet may develop flat feet.
Gravity, age, and weight may cause the condition, and in rare cases, children never develop foot arches, so they grow up to have flat feet. Not every person who has flat feet will feel pain, but poorly fitted shoes and exercising without supportive shoes can result in foot pain in the arch or heel.
8. Diabetic Neuropathy Causes Tens of Thousands of Amputations a Year
One of the most severe side-effects of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy, where you lose feeling in your feet. Diabetes can also reduce blood flow in the legs and feet, slowing the healing process when you get a cut or blister.
Doctors recommend that people suffering from diabetic neuropathy wear shoes as often as possible to reduce the likelihood of injuries like cuts on the feet. Cuts can become infected and lead to severe complications like foot amputation.
9. Stinky Feet Aren't Always a Sign of Poor Health
Smelly feet can cause embarrassment, but they're not always a sign that something is wrong. A condition called bromodosis can cause smelly feet due to a buildup of sweat and resulting bacteria growth, but a simple bath is the cure for most smelly feet.
You can easily prevent smelly feet from returning by alternating your shoes each day, changing your socks at least once a day, and wearing shoes that aren't too tight and that may retain unnecessary moisture around your feet.
10. One in 10 People Experience Plantar Fasciitis in Their Lifetime
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, 10 percent of the population will experience plantar fasciitis at some point in their lifetimes. Around a million people head to their doctor every year for this painful condition, and the issue is most common in women aged 40 to 60.
Elite runners and anyone who regularly engages in recreational activities may also experience this painful condition, as well as those who must stand on their feet for most of the day at their workplace. Losing weight may help reduce the heel pain of plantar fasciitis, and shoes that support your feet well also offer a solid defense.
11. Your Feet Have 7,000 to 8,000 Nerves
Your feet have somewhere between 7,000 and 8,000 nerves, and it's essential to protect your feet to prevent your nerves from getting damaged. Nerve problems can increase the likelihood of a foot injury, and nerve damage can also make it difficult to walk.
Diabetes is a common cause of nerve damage, but poorly fitted shoes are also a culprit for some people. You may be able to preserve the health of your nerves by wearing shoes as often as possible and by making sure they fit well, which can help you avoid developing a neuroma or pinched nerve.
12. Poorly Aligned Feet May Mean a Poorly Aligned Body
You have 206 bones in your body and about a quarter of those bones, or 52, are in your feet. Information from Britain's National Health Service (NHS) indicates that when the bones in your feet aren't in alignment, the rest of your body is affected, too.
Damaging your foot, developing arthritis, or having a genetic condition may cause poorly aligned bones, and some people must undergo surgical realignment to fix their feet.
13. High Heels Can Cause Damage to Your Feet
Any woman who's worn high heels for just a few hours knows that the shoes aren't the most comfortable items to wear on one's feet. While high heels can make a great fashion statement, they can also cause noticeable damage to your ankles and your feet.
According to Self Magazine, not only can high heels cause painful bunions, but they can also increase the pressure on the front of your foot and create "hammer toes," which occurs when a toe bends downward permanently. High heels can also cause painful tendonitis and even stress fractures.
14. Most Sets of Feet are Different Sizes
Not only is the architecture of one person's foot often very different from every other, according to a scientific analysis of more than a million foot scans from people across North America, Europe, and Asia, but many people also have two feet that are two different lengths.
It's not uncommon for some people to have feet of such different sizes that they need to buy two pairs of identical shoes in different sizes to accommodate their feet. Fortunately, different sized feet don't cause any health problems, but they might make it a little challenging to find shoes that fit both feet comfortably.
15. Our Feet Aren't Fully Developed at Birth
An infant's feet aren't fully developed at birth, and the tissues are quite pliable in early life. A process known as ossification occurs during the first year of life when bones solidify and grow into well-developed feet.
The feet grow until the late teens, when changes to bone structure and size slow down remarkably, which is an amazing change from birth when the feet are soft and full of fatty tissues rather than solid bones.
Your feet are exceptional in their ability to carry you around and support you throughout your life. Take care of them through a healthy diet, regular care, and wonderfully fitting shoes.