(1) Centre for Sport Health Exercise Research, Staffordshire University, Stoke on Trent UK
(2) Department of Psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester UK.
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Footwear has been identified as a key component in the aetiology of foot pain in the general public. Females appear to suffer more than males with the forefoot being the highest reported location of footwear related pain. Choices of footwear styles in young healthy females are led by comfort and activity, but it is not clear as to what footwear choices are made by women who suffer from foot pain.
Two focus groups were conducted with three women who suffered with foot pain aged 40-59 years, and four women aged 60-80 years, regarding the choices made when buying footwear. Discussions focused around type of shoe purchased and the choices made when purchasing that shoe. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.
Themes generated included style, brand, emotions, available choices and restrictions when buying shoes. While the older group chose shoes for comfort and fit, the younger group were more influenced by fashion and matching to dress choice. Colour was important to both groups and a key factor when buying new shoes. Foot pathology was the main restriction in buying desirable shoes in the older group.
As women age, the choices made for fashionable footwear may be overridden by the need to fit a shoe to existing foot pathology. Older women may be willing to alter the style of shoes to accommodate problems and ensure comfort. However, younger females with foot pain may wear fashionable shoes even if they cause discomfort.