I’ve worked in the foot care business for over 10 years now, so I’ve heard lots of misconceptions about feet in that time! Here’s a few ideas that are commonly believed to be facts, some of which are partially untrue, and others are complete myths!
Shoes cause bunions.
It seems that many people believe that bunions are the result purely of bad footwear. While it’s true that footwear can play a big part in people developing bunions, shoes aren’t the cause of them. They are actually hereditary, so certain people have inherited a foot structure that means they’re predisposed to getting bunions.
However, it’s interesting to note that bunions are very rare in countries where shoes aren’t worn, so choosing the right shoes will certainly lower the risk of developing bunions.
Narrow shoes, high heels, and pointy shoes can contribute to bunions getting worse.
You can’t walk on a broken foot/ankle.
Some people say if you can walk on it, it can’t be broken! There are 26 bones in the foot and 3 in the ankle, and depending on the severity of the injury and your personal pain threshold, it is possible to walk with a broken bone in your foot/ankle.
Doing so, however, will cause further damage, so it’s recommended to avoid walking on or putting weight through an injured foot until you’ve had it checked by a medical professional.
It’s normal to experience foot pain as you get older.
It’s not ‘normal’ to experience foot pain at any age. However, many of the foot problems that older people suffer with have been caused by wearing the wrong footwear during childhood, along with the fact that with age the fatty pads in the feet wear thin, so we lose our natural shock absorbers.
It’s important to make sure you wear the right shoe size at any age- have both feet measured (both length and width), make sure you have enough space to wiggle your toes! Wearing insoles in your shoes will give you an extra layer of padding and support, and wear slippers when you’re indoors. If you suffer with foot pain, seek expert advice as there is likely a way to ease it.
Soaking your feet is good for you.
This one isn’t a complete myth- an occasional foot soak is cleansing, relaxing and can be very beneficial. But soaking them too often can dry them out, and can cause foot problems, especially for people with diabetes. When you do soak your feet, be sure to thoroughly dry them after, and then apply a good foot cream to restore the moisture.
Your foot size never changes.
I used to work in a specialist shoe shop, and this drove me crazy! After finding a shoe which was a perfect fit, all too often the customer would ask what size it was, and upon me informing them, they’d reply “oh no, that’s not my usual size”.
Studies have shown that up to 75% of people wear the wrong size shoe (length or width)! One thing that happens to ageing feet is they lose elasticity, causing them to spread, so older people often need bigger or wider shoes than they used to wear in their youth.
It’s important to regularly have your feet measured, and don’t buy shoes based on size, but try them to make sure they fit correctly.
Gout is caused by poor diet.
Gout is caused by consistently high levels of uric acid in the body, which crystallizes in the joints and makes them red, swollen and painful.
Eating foods containing high amounts of purine and drinking alcohol produces more uric acid, so diet plays a huge part in gout. However, many people have this type of diet and don’t suffer from gout. Why? Because it all comes down to genetics. Some people are predisposed to uric acid overproduction and buildup.
However, obesity, high blood pressure and crash diets are all things that increase the risk of gout in a person who is already prone to getting it, so a healthy lifestyle will help to prevent it.