Wednesday, August 29, 2018

my theory: the feet have spread

I've been wearing my new New Balance walking/running shoes ever since I bought them almost two weeks ago in the States, and it's been lovely. Shoe length, not width, was apparently the problem, and with my new size 11-and-a-halfs, I no longer feel any undue pressure on the fronts of my left foot's toes, especially my "turkey toe," next one over from my big toe, which is slightly longer than the big toe.

My theory is that size 11 had been sufficient until I got heavy-duty into walking, and after last year's trek, the feet began to spread. I don't know how prevalent this phenomenon is; I haven't looked into the scientific literature, but anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that the spread of hands and feet can occur through a regimen of sustained impact and/or pressure of some sort. Martial artists who use striking boards and/or practice other techniques for hardening their hands and feet, for example, often report some sort of spreading. Tom Wolfe's novel A Man in Full makes a big deal about the grotesque largeness of one protagonist's hands—a largeness caused by the fact that the protag's job involves lugging and shifting huge boxes of frozen goods, all weighing over fifty pounds, day in and day out, for years.

It's a fun topic that's ripe for some researching, so I'll look into this and get back to you. In the meantime, though, that's my theory: if you pound the pavement enough, your feet will eventually start spreading.*

*You might be asking yourself whether there's a difference between growing and spreading when it comes to body parts. When a man gets an erection, we'd normally say his dick grows, not that it spreads, and that's because of a sudden increase in blood in the nether regions. We speak of a single plant growing, not spreading, when it increases in size over time as it takes in nutrition, light, water, etc. This makes me think that, while the two terms have plenty of semantic overlap and may, in some cases, even be interchangeable, growth in the biological sense has more to do with an increase in cells (which also applies to blood filling the corpus spongiosum during an erection: blood has blood cells), while spreading has more to do with an increase in size unrelated to the number of cells occupying a given volume. You could, I suppose, counter that, when an infection spreads, it's spreading thanks to an increase in the number of pathogens, all of which indicates that growth and spreading are concepts that are difficult to parse. (And when we say that an office job causes our asses to spread, we're implicitly referring to an increase in the number of fat cells. This growth/spreading thing is complicated. The wart grew larger on his nose; the acne spread across her face. Hmmm.)


Annie C said...

Ask any mother about shoe size. The combination of hormones that relax the muscles of women close to childbirth and carrying a suddenly much heavier load means almost all women end up a half size larger after delivery.

Kevin Kim said...

Makes sense to me!

Joe Walther said...

My father, brother, and I all had our shoe size increase by 1/2 to one size in our med 40s.
My dad's conclusion was that shoe sizes changed, but after getting measured we learned that our feet are indeed bigger. I went from 13 to 13 1/2. I have found that wearing size 14 and adding an extra cushion insole is perfect.
Try finding size 14 in Korea. Hard enough in the US. I still buy a lot of 13s because it's all I can find. (my brother went from 14 to 15)
We are indeed a bigfiot family. The missing link?

Kevin Kim said...

Can't even imagine size 14 in Korea. And good God, what a family of gunboats! The ladies must love you all if the legends be true. Heh.