8th Grade Shoes

Contributed by Anna Altiar

In 1985, I went to a family wedding - a joyous occasion! My family arrived 3 days early so we could help and celebrate the festivities.  The first thing I encountered was the bridegroom soaking his feet in a pan of "tea" that he claimed was the only relief he got from the awful foot pain.  He could not stand or walk without his shoes; his feet were so tender.  

I took a look.  His poor toes were overlapping and crunched like tissue paper after a birthday party. I asked "What size shoes do you wear?"  "Eight" he replied, adding, "I've always worn an 8."

"Since when have you worn an 8?" I asked.  

Now you must know his answer: "Since 8th grade, always an 8." 

I asked about the tea and found it to be some sort detox tea and dried off one foot asking if I could massage it some which might give more relief.  

He let me work on the foot, but flinched with each touch.  Every fiber in his foot was inflamed because of keeping it cramped for many years.  

His shoes were way too small for his manly frame.  

I told him to go barefoot which was really difficult given his sensitivity. Then we had a short talk about bigger shoes for his crunched up feet.  Sometimes, people cannot wrap their brains around another size shoe. He had worn that 8 for twenty years.  

I once knew a woman who was always complimented about her "dainty feet".  She had her big toenails surgically removed rather than go to larger shoes. She had gained 50 pounds over the years, but buying bigger shoes was not considered an option. Gravity plays a big part on shoe size.

There are 14 bones in each foot - 28 of the 208 bones in your entire body are in your feet for the purpose of movement. If feet are held stiff many problems can evolve. For example: Leg pain back pain, headaches, slow blood return, knee challenges, ankle swelling, fatigue, weight gain, Morton's Neuroma, to mention a very few.  

Pain is for a purpose. It means something needs to change.  

When symptoms are left unsolved, they compound to get your attention. For instance the ankle swelling can back up into the heart causing congestive heart problems. It takes years and is painful but the warning signs are present.  Be a good detective and figure it out.

 The bridegroom listened and started with a size 9, that felt so good he went to a 10, then 11, and now considers a size 11 1/2 his true shoe size. Getting the right size shoes is of extreme importance for your general well-being. It sure was for him.  

All of the muscles in the calves connect down in the bones of the feet, therefore, when the feet are freed up and movement restored, the calves have to let go too. Many people have these symptoms and have been helped by just getting bigger shoes.  

If your toes are not stretched out in your shoes, chances are, you need bigger shoes. Often, folks go wider, but usually that is not the right answer. If your foot is "slopping" over the sole of the shoe, longer shoes will work better.  

Remember: Movement = Key Purpose of Feet

I have had hundreds of patients with this same "8th Grade Shoes" Syndrome.  

I was my first patient. The podiatrist wanted to cut the nerves in my feet so the pain would stop.  He called it Morton's Neuroma and I was so glad it had a name and he knew what was wrong.  Since I was a tap dance teacher in my early 20's, that solution didn't set with me. Thank goodness. I started massaging my feet and went from a size 4 (as I had worn in 8th grade) to my present 6 1/2 and the Morton's Neuroma disappeared. It has been years since I have felt that horrible constant aching that went up my legs and into my back - that electric horrible pain of stepping onto my feet first thing in the morning. 

There is only one pair of blue velvet shoes with rhinestones across the toes that I would still like to have in my closet. They were so pretty, but I have learned that pretty is as pretty does and wearing those shoes sure hurt my feet! I can make the sacrifice, there are other shoes to buy.

If you want your feet checked out or a 2nd opinion, I would love to help you solve the mysteries of your pain problems. I like this type of detective work.  

Dr. Anna Altair is a Chiropractic Physician in Mat-Su borough since 2004.  Her Clinic is located on the Palmer-Wasilla Highway in the Regan Building.  Her philosophy is:  "We are here to thrive and good health is your birthright."