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Feet Facts

Feet Facts

How much do you know about one of the hardest working parts of the body?

June is Feet for Life Month when The College of Podiatry encourages everyone to take their feet out of winter hibernation and pay them some loving attention.

Did you know?

  • Feet are getting bigger (up two shoe sizes since 1970s). The average shoe size for men is 10 ( up from size 8) and the average shoe size for women is size 6 (up from size 4) [i]
  • 60 per cent of people have one foot larger than the other
  • Feet can flatten out as you get older (and heavier) and can also increase in shoe size during pregnancy, so you might need to wear a larger shoe or one with a wider fitting says The College of Podiatry
  • One in five women say they are embarrassed about their feet [ii]
  • A young adult’s foot produces about an egg cup of sweat on a summer’s day, so give them some air time. Don’t keep them smothered in airless trainers, synthetic socks or plastic boots day in day out
  • The average person uses their feet to walk 150,000 miles in a lifetime (equivalent to walking around the world five times)
  • The foot is one of the body’s most intricate ‘machines’- with 26 bones
  • Running increases the pressure on the foot by up to seven times that of the body weight
  • Footwear is the biggest cause of foot problems in the UK, say podiatrists [iii]

Shopping for shoes [iv]

  • The average woman owns 17 pairs of shoes and the average man owns nine pairs of shoes
  • 51 per cent people find it difficult to find comfortable shoes which they also feel are fashionable
  • People are nearly twice as likely to buy shoes too small (44%) as too big (24%)
  • 35 per cent said that they thought they were buying the correct size but when they tried them on at home / wore them they didn’t feel comfortable (35%)
  • 26 per cent said that they bought them online and didn’t realise they wouldn’t fit (26%)

The College of Podiatry’s shoe shopping advice is to:

  • Buy shoes in the afternoon – as this is when feet are at their biggest as they swell throughout the day
  • Try on both shoes and walk around the shop to check if they pinch or rub
  • Make sure there is 1cm between the longest toe and the end of the shoe
  • Buy shoes styles to suit the shape of your foot.There are three main shapes: tapered (big toe is the biggest), rounded (the second or third toe is longer than the big toe) and square (all toes of equal length)

Wear the right footwear for the job:

  • Walking lots – supportive shoes, trainers – ideally with a strap or laces to hold the feet in place
  • Playing sport – trainers or specific footwear for that sport
  • Walking a little – up to 3cm heel, low wedge (for women)
  • Dressed up and sitting down - heel for a special occasion (for women)



Killer heels [v]

  • High heeled shoes alter the body’s posture and increase pressure on the foot, ankle and knee joints
  • 1 in 3 women have put their feet at risk for fashion
  • One in five women who wear high heels say that they start to feel pain within just 10 minutes
  • A third of women (37%) say they have walked home with no shoes on after a night out because their feet hurt

Best foot forward advice for women

  • The best heel height for everyday wear is 3cm or less
  • Don’t wear the same heels day after day.Swap flip flops/flimsy sandals and ballet pumps with a more supportive sandal/wedge or trainers to provide arch support
  • Don’t cover it up – nail polish applied to discoloured, thick, cracked, or crumbling nail could make it worse if you have a nail fungus
  • Mums-to-be – wear comfortable, supportive footwear (ideally with a strap, laces or Velcro) with a max of 3cm heel and put your feet up whenever you can. Supportive footwear is even more important in pregnancy than usual, because your body releases a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy which can make you more prone to damage to the foot


Feet fixer for men (for men’s/sporty feet)

  • The average pair of feet gives off an egg cup of sweat per day because feet have 250,000 sweat glands
  • Sweat itself is odourless.It’s the bacteria that grows in damp, warm conditions that smells
  • Foot odour consists of three chemical compounds – methanethoil , propanoic acid, isovaleric acid [vi]
  • The front part of the foot produces more sweat, therefore in summer consider open toe sandals
  • Avoid stinky feet by washing them once a day and don’t forget to wash and dry between the toes (as this is how athlete’s foot can develop)
  • Clean smelly shoes with surgical spirit on some cotton wool. It kills the bacteria which create the bad smell
  • Wear clean socks made from at least 70% cotton because it’s more breathable
  • If you are prone to sweating more than the average man, carry an extra pair of socks with you and change halfway through the day.
  • If going sock-free in summer, sandals and cotton plimsolls are better than nylon trainers
  • If you must wear trainers or enclosed sandals, look for those with air vents
  • Alternate shoes daily to allow them to dry out
  • To avoid catching athlete’s foot and verrucae at the gym or pool, wear flip flops or sandals in communal changing rooms and showers.
  • An average sized-man can process approximately 112 tons of weight through each limb for every mile run.Footwear should have a firm thick heel to help with shock absorption and a supportive arch to keep the foot in place
  • When trimming toenails, cut them straight across and not rounded. Rounded nail-cutting can increase your risk of ingrown toenails, which is pretty painful.

Over 50’s

  • Inadequate footwear can increase the risk of developing arthritis – 60% of arthritis cases are in the feet [vii]
  • If you experience joint pain / symptoms of arthritis in your feet, see a podiatrist. There is always something that can be done
  • If you suffer with type 2 diabetes it is essential you have a foot check once a year or as advised by your health care professional. Diabetes can lead to neuropathy in the feet (poor circulation and numbness) so you are more likely to develop infections and less likely to notice if you have a foot problem.
  • Approximately 125 lower limb amputations are carried out every week in England alone, on people with diabetes due to complications caused by their condition. 80% of these could have been prevented with adequate foot care
  • As you get older, you are more susceptible to suffering with foot problems so be vigilant. Check your feet daily and see a podiatrist if you experience any abnormalities or discomfort
  • For every day, wear a comfortable supportive shoe with a strap to support the foot. Opt for heels of no more than 3cm and ensure that the shoe is wide enough to accommodate the foot


More information on foot health, with free leaflets and tips can be found on The College of Podiatry’s website www.feetforlife.org.

Notes to Editors

The College of Podiatry is the academic authority for chiropody and podiatry in the UK, and an independent charity dedicated to feet health research, education and public awareness. It works closely with the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists – the professional body for the UK’s registered chiropodists and podiatrists. In short, they’re the UK’s experts for everything and anything to do with feet.  Podiatry is the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and other disorders of the feet.

For further information about The College of Podiatry and Feet for Life Month please contact:

Edie Methven
0118 475956

[i]The Society of Shoe Fitters estimates that the average size shoe for women in the 1970s was a size 4 and a size 8 for men. Latest data taken from a survey conducted on behalf of The College of Podiatry by One Poll amongst 2,000 UK adults aged 18+. The survey was conducted online between 20-22 May 2014

[ii]A online survey conducted on behalf of The College of Podiatry amongst 2,000 UK adults aged 18 plus (1,000 women and 1,000 men) by One Poll between 10 and 13 May 2013

[iii]A survey amongst 60 UK registered podiatrists carried out through Survey Monkey between January-May 2013

[iv]A survey conducted on behalf of The College of Podiatry by One Poll amongst 2,000 UK adults aged 18+. The survey was conducted online between 20-22 May 2014

[v] A online survey on behalf of The College of Podiatry amongst 2,000 UK adults aged 18 plus (1,000 women and 1,000 men) by One Poll between 10 and 13 May 2013

[vi] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2604264/Why-breath-smells-armpits-reek-Infographic-explains-chemistry-body-odours-including-flatulence-cheesy-feet.html

[vii]Menz et al Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 2009 17, 298-303