What happens when your feet are “casted” in shoes?
Have you ever heard of the prehistoric practice of foot binding that dates back to ancient China?
Here are some fascinating pictures that British photographer Jo Farrell has captured after tracking down the last living survivors of foot-binding in rural China. From the 10th to 20th centuries, foot binding– the cruel practice of severely altering the shape the feet of young girls– was widely practiced because small, misshapen feet were viewed as a sign of wealth, marriage eligibility, and even erotic. Even after the practice was banned in the early 1900s, many rural women continued to secretly bind their daughters’ feet.
This is some concrete evidence of what happens when our feet are confined to a tight shoe for extended periods. By not using the intrinsic musculature of our feet, the muscles atrophy and do not stabilize the joints of the toes and foot. Over time the foot will become narrow and adapt to the shape of the shoe. This is analogous to what happens when an arm or leg is casted for an extended period of time and the joints become “frozen” after removing the cast. When we perform surgery on the foot or ankle and a cast is required afterwards, the foot is placed in a 90° position to prevent contracture of the Achilles’ tendon. If the Achilles becomes tight, this limits the Ankle’s range of motion (especially dorsiflexion) leading to a pathologic condition known as ankle equinus.
So think twice before keeping your feet confined in those tight and narrow shoes. This applies to the men reading this as well!
All of Her black-and-white photos can be viewed here: http://www.livinghistory.photography/
I would have to say this is a somewhat false analogy. I certainly agree that one should wear shoes that better replicate the human foot with a wide toe box and a low heel to toe drop. But the practice of foot binding involved systematically breaking every bone in the foot, then wrapping the foot as tightly as possible multiple times a week. Even the narrowest running shoe would be loose compared to this horrific practice.