Normal doesn’t always mean healthy. One survey estimated that around 1 in 5 people suffer regular foot pain (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2547889/), and these people scored lower on health-related quality of life measures than any other group. Foot problems are common but the type varies according to age, gender, and background. For example, bunions and corns usually affect older women, a consequence of years of squeezing themselves into tight shoes. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14977645 ) There are plenty of changes in foot shape associated with ageing (https://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/how-to/foot-health/Pages/How-to-Assess-Normal-or-Abnormal-Changes-in-Feet.aspx), such as a slight flattening of the arch and a broadening of the foot, but none of these should be painful.
Some anatomists say that there’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ foot in the Western world. Wearing shoes is a relatively recent innovation, and wearing shoes every day actually limits the shape of your foot – people who usually go barefoot have broader feet with more wide-spread toes, and their body weight is distributed more evenly across the base of the foot. (http://uahost.uantwerpen.be/funmorph/kris/pubs/D’Aout_et_al_2009.pdf) In many cases, what we regard as a healthy foot is actually a ‘shoe-shaped foot’, which conforms neatly to your footwear.
Instead of worrying about whether your foot is normal, think about whether your foot is comfortable. Can you walk for long distances without pain? Can you stretch and flex your toes? Can you balance and lean, with shoes or without? If you’re pain-free and fully mobile, then you have healthy feet, whatever they look like. As in so many areas of life, there’s nothing to be gained by comparing yourself to someone else’s idea of normal.
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