But I have always bought a size 6 ! Why don't my shoes fit anymore?

Why don't my shoes fit anymore?
So, you have popped into your local shoe shop to buy yourself a nice new pair of shoes for work, and grab the size 6's to try them on.. alas, they pinch your toes and feel too short - what on earth is going on?

Your Body
The psychology of footwear and sizing is interesting, as during our lifetime, our bodies can change size and shape for many reasons - I know that I wish I could fit into the same size jeans as when I was 25!  The reasons for this change in body shape can be weight gain or weight loss, having children, exercising differently, chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and more.  So why do we not think that the size and shape of our feet will not be affected also?  These poor little low surface area parts of our body carry our whole body weight, and as well as acting as the efficient cushioning mechanism for us, have 27 bones in each foot and 30 ligaments, fatty deposits under the heel and forefoot and contain more sweat glands than any other part of the body.  In summary, the most important part of our body for mobility (and taken for granted) and probably the most abused with investment in footwear to look after these feet! An example would be bunions - which can dramatically change the shape of your foot and thus effect the fit of your footwear!

Footwear lasts and styling
However, we shouldn't take all the blame :-)   Footwear manufacturing has changed immensely over the years, from the local cobbler making a pair of bespoke shoes, to the rise of 100% locally made factory shoes from the first stitches to the final boxing - and from growth in population to mass production of cheap footwear in response to the demands of fashion and consumerism.  This has led to the disappearance of half sizes, the changing of lasts (the factory mold which the shoes are made over) to suit fashion trends and not the shape of feet, cheap linings and uppers and hard plastic sole units - all designed to be disposable and often definitely not biodegradable. There is no global agreement on sizing in different manufacturers, and so therefore as in when you buy jeans - not every size 6 will fit you. 

Did you know ....
In shoe lengths, the system which was developed in mediaeval times was for tradesmen to measure in lengths of barleycorn, and a Saxon foot in England was defined as 39 barleycorns long, but a Welsh foot was 27 barleycorns long.  However, as barleycorns can vary in size, the then King of England, King Edward II in 1324 made an official decree that the British standard for an inch would be three barleycorns laid end-to-end with 12 inches to a foot.  Since then, different countries have different sizing systems, such as UK sizing, USA and Continental sizing and there are also different measuring devices such as the 'Ritz Stick' and the 'Brannock device' used in footwear retail stores.  Recognise this? The original foot measuring device that proceeded the Brannock device we use in our stores today. 

How can you help yourself?
So if you are struggling to find shoes to fit you properly, it could be that you have some foot conditions which are causing this. This could be foot deformities such as bunions or hammer toes, or an underlying health condition such as various forms of arthritis or diabetes. A mechanical issue could also be causing pain - such as a Morton's neuroma. In these cases, footwear can go beyond being a fashion statement and in fact be affecting your quality of life with reduced opportunity for mobility and also pain. Consult a podiatrist for some treatment and advice and then visit a shoe store where your feet can be measured and there are trained staff to understand your requirements and help you to select the correct footwear.   

In our future blogs....
We will share information about individual health conditions and how this can impact on your footwear choices - in other words, how to not waste money on shoes which do not fit !