Why Feet Get Bigger as We Get Older
Are Your Feet Still Growing?
Are you wondering why you are wearing bigger shoes as you get older? Do you think you feet are getting bigger? Well, that is because they are getting bigger
Nearly 100% of us will need bigger shoes as we get older. Essentially what is happening is that over time our feet slowly flatten out. As they flatten, the arch lengthens and your feet get longer. In addition they splay out and your feet get wider.
Since your feet are getting bigger, you should be wearing larger shoes as you get older. If you are still wearing the same shoes you wore 10 years ago, we can pretty much guarantee that they are too small.
Besides Age, Why Else Do Feet Get Bigger?
1. Weight gain can cause feet to get bigger
If you are carrying extra weight, you are going to carry extra fat everywhere including around your feet with the result of larger feet.
2. Pregnancy can cause feet to get bigger
During pregnancy the same hormones that relax the ligaments of the birth canal also relax the ligaments in the rest of your body including the feet. Since the feet are carrying extra load during pregnancy due to normal weight gain, the feet will often flatten leading to lengthening and widening of the feet.
How to Stop Your Feet from Getting Bigger
There may not be a way to completely stop your feet from getting bigger. But you may be able to slow the progression. Below are our best suggestions of what you can do to combat the flattening of the foot that occurs with aging, weight gain and pregnancy.
Please read this important disclosure about the products recommended in this article.
1. Use arch supports in your shoes
By using arch support to stop the flattening of the feet you may be able to stop or slow the splay that leads to feet getting bigger. The key is to get an arch support that conforms very close to the arch of foot. The closer it grabs your arch the better it will be at stopping your foot from flattening and splaying. Another way to look at this is to wear the highest arched orthotic you can tolerate.
Custom orthotics that are made to be total contact to the arch of your foot will provide the best support and protection. There are, however, some very good over-the-counter arch supports that will offer excellent protection.
For athletic shoes and walking shoes try the FootChair Plus Orthotic with adjustable arch height. It has a great arch to help stop flattening of the foot plus pads that can be used to increase the arch for even more support. This may help stop the foot from getting bigger over time.
For smaller casual shoes and small athletic shoes (such as soccer cleats) try the smaller version – the FootChair 3/4 Length Orthotic.
For women’s dress shoes, the FootChair Slim Orthotic with Adjustable Arch Support is also is the one we recommend to our patients. This is by far the best OTC arch support we have found for women’s flats and dress shoes. It has a great arch support, a very slim profile and flexes to adapt to most heel heights.
Here is a list of all of our recommended prefabricated orthotics.
2. Wear arch support sandals or slippers anytime you are not wearing shoes
At times that you are not wearing shoes, for example when in your house, wear sandals or slippers with arch support. The is particularly important if you are on hard, flat surfaces such as hardwood floors.
These arch support sandals will help prevent flattening and splaying of your feet.
The sandal brand with the most supportive arch is currently Vionic. You can see a selection of Vionic sandals and slippers here.
The key to avoiding flattening of the arch is to wear arch support as much as you can – even when at home.
3. Custom orthotics offer more protection against feet getting bigger
If prefabricated orthotics are not providing enough support, we can prescribe use a custom orthotic. Custom orthotics will conform closer to the arch of the foot, so they do a better job stopping your feet from flattening out. In particular a “total-contact orthotic” that hugs the arch of the foot very close will help the the arch from flattening the foot from getting longer.
If you are in the Seattle area contact us for an appointment to find out if you are a good candidate for custom orthotics.
4. Wear stable shoes
Stable shoes that don’t flex too much will also help support your feet and prevent the flattening that leads to larger feet. Our list of recommended shoes can be subscribed to here.
5. Have your feet sized when you buy shoes
Go to specialty shoe stores with well-trained staff and believe the clerk when they tell you that you are no longer a size 8.
6. Lose weight to shrink your feet
Extra weight puts a lot of flattening force on the foot. If you can take off a few pounds you will decrease those harmful forces on your feet.
So our general recommendation is that it is good idea to wear arch supports or custom othotics to help prevent the foot from flattening over time. Stable shoes will also help. These suggestions will probably help slow or decrease the enlargement of your feet, but regardless of what you do you will probably need a somewhat larger shoe as time progresses.
Most Important for Preventing Your Foot From Splaying and Getting Bigger
If you want to try to limit how much your foot splays out the most important things you can do are to ALWAYS wear arch support as described above and, if you are overweight, then lose some weight.
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