Feet are a marvel of form and function that are capable of coping with extreme loads and repetitive stresses.
Your feet have 26 bones (or 28 depending on what book you read), numerous joints with dozens of muscle and ligament attachments. Generally they are with you for your whole life and will work so seamlessly that you don't think about them till you have an issue.
When do your feet stop growing?
Generally speaking feet stop growing around puberty but the bones will not fully fuse till a few years later. Feet and hands will also be the first part of the body to stop growing with the spine being the last bones to stop growing.
Why do I feel that my feet have gotten bigger?
It could be that the size of shoe you normally take start to feel a little short and to rub but how can this happen? There can be a few things, as there is not one standard length for shoes so it could be the shoes are getting shorter! This also means not all shoes of the same size will be the same length.
The most common reason however is that as you get older feet tend to get a bit flatter and wider. There are a number of reasons this can occur, often it is due to stretching of the ligaments that hold the bones in position. As the arch of the foot decreases this lengthens the foot. This will happen slowly over the course of a lifetime which is why it's important to make sure your footwear is the correct size.
So just remember that because you were a size 4 in your twenties does not mean you will be a size 4 in your seventies.
How much space should there be at the end of my shoes?
It can be a bit of a matter of feeling and there is no correct answer to this. Often it will depend on type of footwear and activity it is to be worn during. Generally you will want a bit more space at the end of a walking boot when compared to a shoe.
As a rule of thumb we recommend 10 - 15mm from the end of the longest toe, which may not necessarily be the big toe. It will also depend on a number of factors such as foot shape or age. Children may require extra growth room however, the shoes will still require to fit the foot correcly and not slip.
What problems can shoes that are too small cause?
Short shoes can cause a number of foot issues. The most visible would be nail trauma such as bruising below the nail.
Toes may start to curl through contact with the end of the shoe. It is suspected bunions can be caused or made worse by tight short footwear.
Why are shoes just not all the same size?
This is something we get asked a lot. In short there is no standard sizing system for footwear that is in common use. In the U.K we will use either U.K sizing also know as paris points or E.U sizes. Unfortunately the sizes don't match up exactly between U.K and E.U sizes.
There is a standardised sizing systems such as the mondopoint system developed by International Organization for Standardization (ISO) which not in common usage in the U.K
While feet don't keep growing they can get longer and wider so its important to adjust your shoe size when required.