Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Odd-Shaped Feet

(Reclaimed from Bubblews...with some caution, because it mentions body parts! Photo by Jdurham at Morguefile.com.)

Dad's mother's side of the family tend to have odd-shaped feet. Most people don't even notice that there are three different ways the bones in the human foot can fit together, but it really makes a difference in the way shoes fit.

Which type of feet do you have? Stand up and look carefully at your toes. If your big toe is longer than the toe next to it, you have what's called an English foot. This does not mean you're English; it means you have the foot shape portrayed on old English statues. Most shoes are designed to fit an English foot better than the other kinds. (Photo by MGDBoston at Morguefile:)

If your second toe is longer than your big toe, you have what's called a Greek foot. Again, this has nothing to do with your ancestry but refers to the foot shape portrayed on old Greek statues. Although many shoes *look* as if they might have been designed to fit a Greek foot, very few shoes really do. People with Greek feet tend to feel very stiff and tired after standing or walking for a few hours. They even have more backaches than people with English feet. (Photo by PedroJPerez at Morguefile.com:)

I read about this distinction as a child and thought "Well, at least I don't have Greek feet." So why did "sturdy, supportive shoes" that worked so well for English feet never work for me? (One year, I forget whether it was the Reeboks my boyfriend gave me so our shoes would match or the Nikes my mother gave me because she'd found such a terrific sale price, but anyway I wore a pair of very expensive and fashionable athletic shoes while walking five miles to work, and by the time I got to work it looked and felt as if I'd sprained both ankles.)

Turns out that although my big toe and second toe are the same distance from my heel, my second toe is shorter and the metatarsal bone behind it is longer than they would be on an English foot. This is a real minority foot shape known as Morton's Toe. People with Morton's Toe also have more backaches, and more trouble finding shoes that really fit, than people with English feet. (Photo by Andi at Morguefile.com:)

There's an old song that has the words, "Two-dollar shoes hurt my feet...it takes ten-dollar shoes to fit my feet." If I were writing that song, it could be "Hundred-dollar shoes hurt my feet...it takes five-dollar shoes to fit my feet." The less "sturdy and supportive" shoes are for English feet, the less pain they inflict on feet like mine. Some of the shoes that work best for me are cheap, generic, Chinese canvas slippers. The thin rubber soles last only a month or two if I walk in them every day, but at that they're still a bargain for me.

Well, I'm about to reach my original Bubblews goal of raising $50 to contribute to a church fund, and I'm still wearing the same shoes I wore to the computer center in December. I'm thirty miles from home, but seven miles is as far as I've had to walk at night (so far! touch wood!) This is because a cousin on Dad's mother's side of the family usually remembers to call and ask where I am when he gets off work. (The worse the weather is, the later he works.) He wears standard work boots from Wal-Mart on the job--the kind people with English feet would call cheap but decent, sturdy, serviceable boots. He has Greek feet. More than food or family, what he looks forward to at the end of the work day is taking off those boots. Although it's driving not walking, spending an extra hour at the end of the day in those boots has been quite a sacrifice to allow me to wear the same pair of comfortable shoes all winter.

If I'm able to use the Internet closer to home and continue earning money here, the next thing I'd like to do is buy a pair of man-sized boots that work better for Greek feet than the kind Wal-Mart sells. They're not cheap, but this cousin has earned them.

If you can relate to this story because you, too, have Greek feet, there's a trick you may want to try. Buy a pack of Dr. Scholl's or similar little adhesive rubber pads. Stick one in each shoe at the point where the second toe and second metatarsal join in the ball of your foot. This raises the metatarsal just enough that some people say it allows them to be comfortable in almost any shoe...but of course the rubber pads have to be replaced every week or so.