Medieval pointy-toed shoes led to increase in bunions
A craze for pointy-toed shoes led to a sharp increase in bunions for people centuries ago, according to a study of skeletons.
Researchers from Cambridge University examined 177 skeletons from four cemeteries in and around the city.
Among those buried between the 11th and 13th centuries, some 6% showed evidence of bunions but among those buried in the 14th and 15th centuries, this rose to 27%.
The rise was about the same time as poulaines – pointy-toed shoes – were increasingly popular.
Dr Piers Mitchell from the university’s Department of Archaeology said: “The 14th century brought an abundance of new styles of dress and footwear in a wide range of fabrics and colours.
“Among these fashion trends were pointed long-toed shoes called poulaines.
“The remains of shoes excavated in places like London and Cambridge suggest that by the late 14th century almost every type of shoe was at least slightly pointed – a style common among both adults and children alike.
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“We investigated the changes that occurred between the high and late medieval periods, and realised that the increase in hallux valgus over time must have been due to the introduction of these new footwear styles.”