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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/671

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Narrow-toed shoes aggravate the abnormal position of the great-toe, and cramp the other toes closely together, stopping all their free and healthful motion.

Narrow soles cramp the whole foot; calluses, corns, stiff and inelastic joints, and wasted muscles follow. The distress endured by a fleshy foot in a narrow shoe must be felt to be appreciated. If shoes are not cut "rights and lefts," they do not conform to the shape of the foot, and keep it in a continuous strain, exercising also a tendency to break down the supporting arch. The foot, thrown out of position, falls too far to one side or the other, and we have "running down at the heels," and vicious inversions of the foot in walking.

Tight shoes impede the circulation, deprive the feet of the warmth they need, and ultimately cause waste of the tissues. A friend of the writer, a strong, vigorous man, in splendid health, nearly lost his life from congestion induced by an hour's wearing of a pair of tight boots. Of shoes too stiff at the waist or middle, Dowie says, "Rigidity of this portion of the foot-covering is particularly destructive of the muscles of the foot and leg, for it interferes almost entirely with the free play of the whole foot."[1]

"Wedge-toed" shoes call for some preliminary remark. If one examines the ends of the fingers, it will be seen that they have a fleshy protuberance; the toes have this in common with the fingers, and its office in both is to make a soft, cushion-like protection for the bones. A wedge-toed shoe, such as is seen in Fig. 14, forces the toes immovably into a close envelope that crowds this cushion away from the bones, and wastes it to such an extent that the bones, lacking its protection, become diseased often to a degree requiring surgical treatment. The dotted lines in Fig. 14 indicate how the evil might bePSM V24 D671 Exostosis of the bone.jpgFig. 11.—Exostosis of the Bone.mitigated by giving a fullness in the upper leather. Take a round and narrow wedge-toed shoe, and let it be short as one may generally see them, worn, and you have an instrument of torture that is little short of the famous iron boot of the past ages.

"Box-toes" possessed the virtues of giving Fig. ll. Exostosis or the room for the extension of the foot, and saved their wearers from the torments of "wedge-toes," but they had other defects, and are now almost out of use.

High heels augment all the injuries and miseries we have enumerated. The foot on heels is in the position it occupies in going down-hill, or down the roof of a house, a most insecure and unstable one. The weight of the body is thus thrown forward, the center of gravity

  1. This is a prolific cause of the homely spindle-shank, which he says marks the English laborer in his wooden solid shoe. Dowie cites the Irish laborer, who goes barefoot, and has a splendid muscle in his calf, as a sample of what free play of the foot will do for the improvement of the leg.