Friday, March 03, 2006

So shoe size matters ?

Symmetry. There are no guarantees; both halves of our skeleton are the same size. Each half develops separately and independent of the other.

Here is a test, put your hands together in prayer style, make sure the heels of the hand are matched, palm to palm and fingers straight. Look carefully at the ends of the third fingers. Notice anything? Yes one finger is shorter than its twin. Hey we are imperfect. If your fingers are the same length then you are definitely in the minority and probably ambidextrous. According to a University of Chicago researcher, right handed men have a larger right foot than a left. In right handed women, the left foot is larger.

Our own survey findings indicated right handed people of either sex appear to have one foot longer than the other, but it as likely to be the right as the left. Left handed people of either gender appear to be 50% more likely to have a longer left than right foot. Ambidextrous people of either sex appear to be likely to have both feet of equal length. Our findings do not support those of the University of Chicago which is not really surprising because of the size of the samples were small. The US subjects were randomly selected from customers in a shoe shop whereas our subjects were people attending a podiatry service and likely to have sore feet. There may be some significance in this.

Measuring the foot is more difficult than you would imagine. Until about a hundred years ago, the local shoemaker would measure the individual feet and make a pair of shoes accordingly, using his own system of measurement. With the advent of mass production, the need for standardisation of shoe sizing became essential. In 1885, the London shoe manufacturers adopted resolution than an adult size 5 shoe should measure 10 inches in length, with three sizes to the inch under and over that figure. (Three sizes to the inch have been used for hundreds of years.

When the system of yards, feet and inches were first instituted, one inch represented the length of three barley corns. Therefore, the barley corn is the standard difference in length between shoe sizes). Shoe measurement starts at 4 inches which is size 0 in children shoes, and proceeds by one third of an inch up to size 13. It continues into adult sizes at the same interval. The half size is one six of an inch. These measurements link to the inside of the shoe and not the foot itself. There is no universal way to size shoes; hence consumers need to be conversant with the US system, the Paris Point system and the Mondopoint system to make sense of shoe fitting. Width fitting or the girth of the ball of the foot and is usually designated letters i.e. A to E. No standards here either, I am afraid. So an English C is the equivalent of an American A. Many high fashion and particularly imported shoes are not made in width fittings.

Reviewed 7/12/2016

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