A foot is a complex yet extremely important body part. Everyone has a different foot size, shape, arch, and width. Some people have wider feet than what’s considered “normal.” If that’s the case with you, you might be interested in finding out why you have wide feet.
Wide feet are either caused by genetics, environmental factors, or underlying health conditions. Some people have wide feet because they are born with wide feet, flat feet, or flat arches. Environmental factors may include wearing tight, narrow, ill-fitted shoes or not wearing shoes often in the early years of development. Whereas health conditions may include long-term obesity, sudden weight gain, pregnancy, foot swelling, or aging.
Wide feet are certainly more prone to foot problems, especially if you try to squeeze them into narrow or ill-fitting shoes. These foot problems include bunions, hammertoes, crossover toes, corns, and calluses.
Why Do I Have Wide Feet?
|Why Do I Have Flat Feet?||Possible Reasons For Flat Feet|
|Genetics||Your bone and muscle structure are genetically disposed to cause flat feet.|
|Environmental Factors||You wear shoes that cause weak muscles and bone misalignment, obesity creates excess weight feet can’t handle, and pregnancy creates relaxed swollen feet.|
|Health Conditions||Injuries, bone misalignment, old age (looser muscles, tendons, & ligaments), bunions, and hammertoes.|
For many people, the answer to why they have wide feet is because they were born this way. But this condition can also come about in other ways.
Feet come in different sizes and shapes. You can probably leave this answer to mother nature, just like your skin color, hair color, eye color, or height. Almost everyone has a different foot size and shape. Some have narrow feet, while others have wide feet.
Having wide feet is not bad, but you need to make sure you buy shoes that fit well and are designed for wide feet. There are several reasons why you have wide feet, such as genetics, age, physical changes, or improper footwear. Let’s discuss them in detail.
Causes Of Wide Feet
Wide feet are pretty common and nothing to worry about. However, a few problems associated with wide feet need to be addressed (discussed in detail later). But first, let’s see what causes wide feet?
The first and most common cause of having wide feet is genetics. Look around your family. Perhaps one or both of your parents, or maybe your grandparents have wide feet, so you have wide feet. Also, if you were born with flat feet, you have a greater chance of developing wide feet.
There’s nothing good or bad about wide feet, but they can be a source of insecurity for some people. However, even though wide feet and big feet come with some issues and insecurities, they also offer some benefits in activities like swimming and sprinting.
If you were not born with wide feet, it doesn’t mean you can never develop wide feet. Genetics is not the only cause of wide feet; several other causes exist.
Flat arches are a genetic condition that can result in wide feet. If you were born with flat arches, you would notice that your feet appear wider. This is because when you stand, the curve of your foot will collapse, making them appear wider.
However, if you were not born with flat arches and have them due to an injury or too much stress on your foot, then simple treatments can help slim your wide feet and solve your problem.
Flat feet are another genetic condition that can lead to wide feet. It usually appears as you age and develop as a child into an older adult.
For instance, a shoe that fits well in your 20s will be too narrow when you’re in your 60s. Even though the length will be the same, the width of your feet will change. This is due to your feet getting flat as you age, making them wider.
Some people are born with flat feet, while others develop them due to other factors. For example, it is possible to develop flat feet due to high-impact sports or other foot injuries, such as ankle sprains. This leads to wide feet and wider shoe sizes.
Aging can also cause wider feet. As you age, your body and physical appearance change. As a result, your ligaments, tendons, and muscles loosen, changing the shape of your foot. Your foot may become longer or wider as the arch collapses.
Improper footwear is one of the major causes of developing wide feet. Your footwear habits have a huge impact on how your foot shape looks and feels.
Some people have wide feet not because of genetics but because of wearing wrong or ill-fitting shoes. You probably developed wide feet due to bad shoe habits if you weren’t born with wide feet or flat feet.
Bad shoe habits mean wearing shoes that do not fit your foot length or width. (Incorrectly fitted footwear, foot pain and foot disorders: a systematic search and narrative review of the literature) states that “63 to 72 percent of people wear shoes that do not fit their feet properly”.
Your feet will swell and become wider if you wear shoes that are too tight or too loose and don’t match your foot length or width. Even for a short period, wearing such shoes can result in foot deformities and eventually wider feet.
When you spend most of your time barefoot or hold up to an old pair of shoes for a long time, you are most likely affecting the width and shape of your feet. Constantly wearing ill-fitted, improper, worn-out footwear will harm your feet over time and cause major foot issues.
Improper footwear can irritate your feet and may cause foot problems like bunions and callouses, leading to an increase in the width of your feet. To avoid all these problems, make sure to buy shoes that not only match your foot size but also match your foot width and arches.
Although shoe shopping for wide feet might be problematic, don’t worry; wide feet have their benefits as well, such as can help improve your balance and athletic ability.
Another cause of having wide feet can be your foot deformities. Foot conditions or deformities can change your foot’s shape and anatomy, causing your feet to expand.
If you develop foot deformities such as bunions, hammertoes, or calluses, your foot may become wider. In case you develop any of these conditions, make sure to have a check on them to avoid any serious and long-term damages. Moreover, consult a podiatrist if these symptoms persist.
Pregnancy is another common cause of having wide feet in women. A woman’s body goes through several changes during pregnancy, including changes in feet shape and width.
Pregnant women tend to experience wider and larger feet, especially during their second or third trimester. It is because pregnancy hormones cause joints and ligaments to loosen around the feet.
“The placenta releases a hormone named “relaxin” during pregnancy, which loosens the pelvic joints. It further stretches the ligaments around the feet, changing their shape. This is why pregnant women usually have swollen, wider feet”. [Pregnancy Leads to Lasting Changes in Foot Structure] [Circulating levels of relaxin are normal in pregnant women with pelvic pain]
Edema is the medical term used for swelling. Edema or swelling can also occur in your feet, thus increasing their width.
Edema can occur due to several health reasons, such as fluid retention, injuries, health conditions, or medicines. However, this swelling isn’t permanent and can go away. To treat the swelling, you can consult your doctor.
Edema can cause wide feet to develop over time, leading to long- or short-term health problems.
Obesity can also cause wide feet. If you are slightly or moderately obese, your chances of developing wide feet are much higher than those who are slim or lean. This usually happens if you have been obese for a long time.
Problems Associated with Wide Feet
Wide feet caused due to genetics are less prone to getting problems than those caused by environmental factors. If you are born with wide feet, it is much less likely to experience physical discomfort; however, you may suffer physical insecurities.
On the other hand, if you develop wide feet due to tight shoes, age, and obesity, there is a higher risk of developing foot problems such as bunions and corns.
If you feel discomfort in your feet, you are probably wearing the wrong shoes. It’s either your shoe size or shoe’s width that doesn’t match your foot length and width, and you need to replace them.
If you have wide feet, you need to buy shoes that match the width of your shoes since tight shoes can lead to severe problems. Here are a few problems associated with wide feet:
A bunion is a bony bump formed around the joint at the base of the big toe. It usually occurs due to the enlargement of bones or tissues in the front part of your foot. As a result, the big toe is pulled toward the smaller toes, forcing the joint to move outward.
When bunion grows, your big toe is turned towards smaller toes, leading to severe pain and swelling. Also, bunions can cause foot deformity, which makes wearing shoes painful.
Corns usually develop on your toes. They are typically developed when your foot’s skin rubs against your shoes. However, corns are easier to heal, but they are more painful than bunions because they cut your skin open.
In addition to wide feet, tight shoes and no socks are other contributing factors to developing corns. If you don’t treat corns timely, they can make you more prone to bunions.
Putting too much pressure on your foot skin due to tight or unfitted shoes can also cause calluses. Calluses are thick hard patches of skin. They are larger and more dispersed than corns.
When you have wide feet and wear tight shoes, you can also experience other foot problems such as hammertoe and crossover toe.
Generally, hammertoes affect the second, third, or fourth toes. Your toe begins to curl up rather than lying flat in this condition. Whereas in a crossover toe condition, your toes tend to cross over each other when squeezed in a tight shoe.
How To Make Wide Feet Look Narrow?
The simple answer is that there are no specific ways to make your feet appear narrow, and you don’t need to do so either. However, if you still want to make them look slimmer, wearing tight shoes isn’t the right solution since it will worsen the problem.
There isn’t much you can do in the case of genetically wide feet. But if environmental factors or underlying health conditions cause your wide feet, here are a few things you can do to make them look narrower:
- If you have flat arches, orthotics or customized insoles might help you. They will give your feet enough arch support and make your feet look narrow (Best Insoles for Flat Feet).
- You need to find shoes that fit your feet snugly and comfortably without pain. In addition, wearing such shoes regularly reduces your risk of getting bunions, foot inflation, and swelling.
- You can try a few shoes specially designed for wide feet. Some of these shoes are designed in such a way that they have adequate width, yet they give the impression of thin and slim feet.
- Reduce foot swelling: Treating your swollen feet can also help your feet look slimmer. However, it’s time-consuming and tricky since you have to identify the underlying cause of the swelling.
- Sometimes, sitting for too long can cause foot swelling, so you need to monitor them. If you get up in between your work hours or take a walk, it might help. If the swelling goes down, you’re fine. If not, try another method.
- Losing weight: Weight gain can also make your feet wider to support your body. In this case, lose a few pounds and observe if your feet appear thinner or not. If you don’t see any results, then wight might not be the culprit.
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