Your feet carry you thousands of miles in your lifetime so it is critical that you take good care of them.
You can inherit problems with your feet from your Aunt Sue but more often trouble with feet are caused by wear and tear or neglect. The shoes you wear make a big difference in the health of your feet. Wearing the wrong size of shoes can cause neuromas, corns, calluses, blisters, hammertoes, back and leg pain, bleeding or numbness.
If you have two feet that are the same size then it is easy to find a pair with a good fit and style. However, there are millions of people around the world that need a pair of shoes in different sizes and there are also many handicapped and injured people who need just one shoe. In the United States alone almost 10% of the population wears - or should wear - a different sized shoe on each foot.
Who are these people who need two different sized shoes to make a pair or who only need one shoe? People with feet that are two different sizes, those with clubfeet, polio survivors, the handicapped or injured, amputees, lymphedema sufferers, and diabetics.
So what is a person who has two different sized feet or who only has one foot do when it comes to buying shoes?
The old solution to this problem was expensive and inconvenient. Often people with feet of different sizes buy one pair each of the same shoe in two different sizes, leaving a closet full of unused mismatched shoes. People who only need to wear one shoe because of an injury or disability paid for two shoes when they only needed one. Some people spend hours visiting thrift and second hand stores looking for two identical shoes in two different sizes.
There are two non-profit organizations, the National Odd Shoe Exchange and the One Shoe Crew, that provide shoes for amputees and people with mismatched feet. These organizations can only help so many people because it is impossible for those organizations to find a matching pair of shoes in each of an individual's shoe sizes given the many brands, styles, and colors of shoes available.
The Internet has opened up a whole new world for people who have mismatched feet or who only need one shoe. General auction sites like ebay allow users to list one shoe out of a pair but given the lack of knowledge about finding odd shoe sizes or single shoes means that many of these auctions end without buyers. One website, MixMatchShoes.com, sells pairs of shoes that are two different sizes but the selection of shoes is limited.
The newest solution for people with mismatched feet are websites that allow users to sell single shoes or mismatched pairs of shoes and to search for other single shoes or mismatched pairs of shoes for sale in their sizes. Instead of buying two pairs of shoes, a user can buy a single shoe or a pair of mismatched shoes from another user of the site, and a pair of the same brand, style, and color in the size of the buyer's opposite foot from a retailer. After the shoes arrive from the retailer, the buyer can post the shoe(s) not in their size(s) for sale on the site. This type of website gives sellers and buyers a chance to find the perfect pair of shoes or one shoe in a style and size that fits their feet.
As more people discover and begin to use these sites, there should be pairs of shoes available to accommodate virtually all combinations of mismatched feet so that users will not have to resort to buying a pair of matching shoes from a retailer. Many users with unused mismatched and single shoes ask only that those who can wear the shoes pay shipping charges.
Auction, commercial and non-profit sites are adding inventory all the time to make it easier to help the handicapped and people with mismatched feet to purchase stylish, comfortable shoes. Thanks to the Internet purchasing one shoe or two different sized shoes in a pair will become a easier shopping experience.
Kent Basson is the founder of OddShoeFinder.com an online webite that helps people find mismatched or single shoes. The site was created after Kent's sister suffered a foot injury that resulted in her having to buy two different sized shoes. After searching the web, he discovered the problem is far more common resulting in millions of unused, mismatched pairs of shoes that can now be given away, sold or purchased at oddshoefinder.com.
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