FootSmart introduces the FootSmart Foot Comfort Index™, a research-based initiative addressing lifestyle choices, behaviors and conditions affecting foot comfort, foot health and shoe selection. Partnering with Crestwood Associates, FootSmart surveyed 1,200 women from the general population, ages 35 and up. Published quarterly, the Index offers a quantitative look at the condition of women’s feet and the psychological and physical changes they go through as a result of wear and tear on one of the body’s most complex parts, the foot.
“The reality is, foot pain and discomfort are very much a fact of life for many Americans – 80% of adults, according to recent findings by the American Podiatric Medical Association. More than any other body part, the foot and related issues require individuals to change their lifestyle to adapt to the thousands of miles that our feet travel in a lifetime,” says Alan Beychok, President and CEO of Benchmark Brands, parent company of FootSmart. “With this Index we hope to provide a greater understanding of the foot conditions affecting consumers today and how these conditions impact their shoe choices.”
Paramount to staving off foot health conditions is a women’s footwear choice. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), nine out of 10 women’s foot issues can be attributed to shoes that are too tight. Hillary Brenner, a spokeswoman for the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), acknowledged this direct relationship between footwear and foot problems in the April issue of Health Magazine.
Bucking the Trend
According to the FootSmart Foot Comfort Index, when it comes to shoe buying behavior, more than 3/4 of all surveyed participants (78%) choose comfort before fashion when purchasing footwear. Approximately seven out of 10 women, ages 35-49 (69%), stated they put comfort before fashion when buying shoes. Not surprising, the figure increases to 85% of shoppers over the age of 50 who choose comfort before fashion. As it relates to specific conditions, 84% of foot arthritis sufferers and 80 percent of foot/ankle pain sufferers choose to put comfort first.
Key Q2 2012 FootSmart Foot Comfort Index Highlights
- A staggering 73 percent of women suffer from a biomedical or general foot condition such as Bunions, Corns, Calluses, Hammertoes, Swollen Feet, Heel Pain (also known as Plantar Fasciitis), and Ball of Foot Pain. This statistic reiterates how widespread and prevalent these ailments are.
- 64 percent of women experience foot skin or hygiene issues. Of these, a total 84%, or 55% of women age 35 and up, suffer from Painfully Cracked Heels, Foot Calluses and/or Ingrown Toenails.
- A majority 62% of women age 35 and up experience some sort of lower body health condition, with almost all (97%) suffering from Lower Back Pain and/or Knee Pain.
- The most common foot conditions influencing buyer behavior when it comes to footwear are: Ball of Foot Pain, Heel Pain/Plantar Fasciitis, Arch Pain and Morton’s Neuroma, a condition in which sufferers experience burning and tingling sensations in the feet.
- Walking for exercise is the dominant way respondents engage in physical activity.
“This index enables us to glean insightful information on the problems and discomforts consumers experience,” adds Beychok. “While 78 percent of our female survey respondents are placing comfort first and foremost when it comes to shoe selection, that doesn’t mean they aren’t influenced to buy for fashion, too. It’s no different than eating right and occasionally choosing something decadent. The disparity is, every time you wear that decadent shoe, you compromise your foot health. Our mission is to deliver foot comfort while making an increasingly greater commitment to style. Then our customers can have their cake and eat it too.”