When a new patient comes to my Seattle podiatry office, it's more likely to be a woman than a man.
Why? Let's delve into the 5 main reasons women have more foot problems than men.
Differences in the structure of women's feet can put them at greater risk for foot injuries.
- more lax or loose ligaments
- a wider forefoot
- shorter arch length
- shorter metatarsals
- greater plantar flexion and range of motion
Jobs That Require Standing
While it's true that more men than women work in construction, highway work, and perform manual labor, more women than men have jobs where they need to stand. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly 75% of teachers and 90% of nurses are women. Other jobs dominated by women are those who work in retail, hairdressers, servers, and house cleaners. Standing for long periods of time is very hard on feet due to the amount of pressure the feet have to withstand.
Shoes play a huge role in the type of foot problems women experience. Women who wear high heels are apt to develop bunions, hammertoes, and neuromas. That's because high heels place a large amount of pressure on the ball of the foot. To prevent these problems from occurring or getting worse women should wear shoes with heels one inch or lower. The toe box should be wide enough to give toes room to move.
According to the National Institutes of Health women and men have about the same prevalence of obesity, but women were more likely to be very obese. The more someone weighs the more pressure on the feet placing people with obesity at greater risk for foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis.
Weight gain during pregnancy can put women at greater risk for heel pain, just like women who are already overweight. In addition, pregnancy triggers a release of hormones that loosens ligaments, which can contribute to foot strain and increased foot size.
Pregnant women should wear shoes that accommodate swelling and increased foot size. Shoes should be supportive and have a wide toe box. Women should never wear high heels when pregnant. Added weight and pressure on the ball of the foot and toes make women more vulnerable to foot problems. In addition, pregnancy alters the center of gravity for women altering balance and contributing to a greater chance of twisting an ankle. Wearing high heels adds to that risk.