Is it True What They Say About The Size of a Man’s Feet?
Posted by Jenn F. on Friday, March 1st, 2013
We’ve all heard it before: the size of a man’s feet are directly proportional to the size of his… You know the rest. It’s a silly clichéd saying from romantic comedies and singles bars the world over. A few years ago there was even a whole huge art piece about this at Burning Man. It’s a pervasive saying and one of those things I never actually take seriously, just laugh off politely (or impolitely, depending on the circumstances). But recently I came across some actual science on the subject. Every now and then scientists delve into the lighter questions, putting aside the God Particle for a moment to find the truth behind some quirky social assertion. In this case the investigation (from all the way back in 2002) was resurrected by a lawsuit filed by the musician Chubby Checker against Hewlett Packard over an app that purported to estimate a man’s endowment based on his foot size. What a world.
The answer to this age old question is a big maybe. A 1993 study observed a weak relationship between the two. In 2002 urologists in England found no significant correlation. However, Greek scientists in that same year found a correlation between the size of a man’s index finger and his endowment. And of course, people with big hands also tend to have big feet. Then in 2011 Turkish scientists found that height, weight, and body mass index were indeed correlated with size, as you might expect. Overall these were all small studies and their contradictory results inspire that classic scientific phrase: further research is needed.
The problem here is finding a reliable method for measuring the size of body parts that change size. Standing for long periods, being in warm climates, getting older, and sitting through a long airplane flight, can all cause feet to swell. (Pregnancy can too, but that probably doesn’t apply here.) And for that other body part, size changes are an inherent part of its M.O. There hasn’t been a consistent methodology between studies or even within a single study. So, the question remains.
It’s no surprise that a popular social cliché would be more complicated than meets the eye. While there are some inherent truths to human proportion, bodies often tend to defy simple comparisons. From a podiatrist’s point of view, foot size matters when it comes to gait mechanics and injury, but it’s only really an issue in the extremes. As for the size of other body parts, we’ll leave that to the Turks.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.