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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 April, 2004, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Women risk their feet for fashion
High-heels
Fashion often wins over comfort
Women are causing serious damage to their feet by wearing shoes that are far too small, say researchers.

Forcing feet into smaller sizes leads to deformed toes, bunions and other agonising problems, they warn.

A survey of 100 people at the Homerton Hospital in London found the majority wore the wrong-sized shoes.

Mr Trevor Prior, the podiatric surgeon who carried out the research, said one woman he had seen was wearing shoes that were three sizes too small.

The more important it is to someone to look good, the higher the pain threshold
Lorraine Jones, Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists
Women's shoes - as many a Carrie Bradshaw knows - are often bought for style rather than comfort.

Shoes which sit low of the front of the foot, such as court shoes, have to be smaller than the foot so that they stay on.

This in itself crushes the feet, particularly the toes - leading to discomfort.

But even when people buy more "sensible" shoes, such as trainers, they often fail to buy a size large enough to give their feet room to breathe.

Storing up problems'

Mr Prior studied around 100 men and women, some of whom had attended his clinic with foot problems and others who volunteered to take part of the study.

People were asked what size shoes they wore, and had their feet measured to see what size they should be wearing.

Ninety-five per cent of people who had foot problems were wearing shoes that were too small for them.

But Mr Prior said he was surprised to find 85% of those who had "healthy feet" were also wearing too-small shoes.

He added: "People are walking around in discomfort, but it's just what they get used to."

However, they can be storing up problems for later in life.

Mr Prior said: "It could precipitate arthritis. Some people who have the condition in their big toe joint can see their symptoms alleviated if they change wear different shoes."

Lorraine Jones, from the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, said slip-on or court shoes should be saved for special occasions, such as nights out or important meetings.

She admitted: "The more important it is to someone to look good, the higher the pain threshold.

But she warned people were storing up problems for the future. "Seventy per cent of women at the age of 60 will have arthritic changes in their feet.

"At 70, four out of five people, most of whom will be women, need to see a podiatrist to stay mobile."


SEE ALSO:
Sturdy heels 'damage knees'
05 Apr 01  |  Health
'Air-filled' trainer danger
26 Mar 01  |  Health


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