by Kate Krumsiek
I am a person with small feet. Lots of people notice this and comment on it—how cute they are or how lucky I am to have such dainty feet. I occasionally get great buys at discount stores on high-end brand names that make people notice my feet. One great score a few years ago was a terrific pair of Kate Spade patent leather pumps in raspberry.
I love being a size 5, the smallest women’s shoe size. Even though there were times I could sneak up into a 5.5 or even a 6 in certain sandals or sneakers, my first answer whenever anyone asks is “oh, size 5.” I remember a friend rushing in to tell me that a consignment store in town had just received an enormous stash of size 5 shoes, all types. She told me to get down there FAST. I did. As I checked out with my three new pairs of shoes, I asked why the woman was selling a whole wardrobe of shoes. “Bunion surgery,” the clerk replied. “She can never wear heels or narrow shoes again so she sold them to us.” Poor thing, I thought. Not because of the surgery but because of the gorgeous shoes she had to sacrifice!
Not long ago, a student of a fellow teacher was enjoying this same type of attention – small feet, so cute. She announced that her shoe size is a 4! She often has to shop in the children’s section in order to find footwear that fits. I took a good look at her feet and was surprised to see the distinct beginnings of hammertoes developing. Her feet actually looked like she had been forcing them into shoes that are too small and the toes needed to double back on themselves to fit. Her big toe also crammed in toward her second toe and looked to be working hard to grow a bunion. I wondered to myself if being attached to shoe size, as we sometimes can with clothing, could cause damage to feet.
When I began studying Pilates, I was confronted with the truth of my over working toes. They would bend at the knuckles and curl in toward the sole of my foot whenever I was struggling to get a new exercise right. My teacher told me it is an indication of weak gluteal muscles and if I wasn’t careful to correct this misfiring of my tiny toe muscles, hammertoes would be a part of my future, an unwelcome part. My mom has hammertoes and they cause difficulty in shoes and lots of pain. Surgery is the only “cure.”
The size 4 student and that vivid image of her feet shot into my head when I discovered this dysfunctional pattern in my practice. I surely don’t want that foot future—but I have to confess, I’m attached to my size. It matters to me. I like being a size 5. It feels silly to write this but that doesn’t make it any less true. I have some work to do.
It seems I am not the only person who may be overly and unnecessarily attached to shoe size. There is a new-ish trend on the coasts of the US and in the UK. “Cinderella surgery” is a procedure that includes a variety of measures to enhance the ability to fit into narrow foot beds and high-heeled shoes. Enhancements include toe slimming (yes, that is liposuction for the toes), removal of areas that rub into shoe surfaces and a foot tuck method where fat is injected into the foot pads to boost the cushion at the soles of the feet.
Want to do your feet a favor?
- Get yourself measured and get real about your true size. We adopt these sizes when we stop growing post puberty but years of changes in posture, gait pattern, pregnancy/weight gain or loss can all impact our feet. Getting re-measured is not only a good idea, but also a foot-saving idea.
- Leave room between your longest toe and the front of your shoe. Experiment with wiggling all five of your toes in your shoes, if you cannot, size up a half size.
- Walk barefoot on a variety of surfaces. Get the paper or the mail (does anyone still get their paper from the front walk?), weed your garden barefoot or at the very least, spend time indoors without shoes on your feet. Spread, lift and anchor your toes to bring new muscle awareness into your feet.
Cinderella and her glass slippers are no friend to the feet. Figure out your best fit and avoid the pain and inconvenience of toe problems. Size is just a number, your feet are forever.
From the start, the practice of yoga did it all for Kate Krumsiek—fitness, awareness, breath, alignment and clarity of mind. She couldn’t resist her drive to pass those gems along to others from the teacher’s mat. Kate’s 200 hour training with Natasha Rizopolous provided an exceptional foundation of yogic knowledge from which to learn, teach and cast a wide net for continued study. Yoga Tune Up Teacher Training refined her lens of understanding to shine upon the anatomical and corrective aspects for practice—helping students identify and address postural habits that impair efficient, effective movement in the body.
You may also like…