What does your shoe size say about you?
We all know the rumours to do with its role as indicator of a certain other endowment (doubtlessly spread by members of the clowning community), but what can really be told by one's shoe size? Well, according to scientists and surveys, lots.
Pleasingly, the results show positives for all shapes and sizes. So whether you're a child's size 12, a literal bigfoot or somewhere in between, here's what the experts have to say:
It can tell you your life expectancy
In 2009, a team of Swedish epidemiologists conducted a study into the relationship between shoe size and length of life, even releasing a helpful table to frighten people.
The results generally showed that men with average-sized feet have the best chances, while those at either extreme could find themselves heading for an early grave. Despite that, they did accept a margin of error.
“We have no doubt people can live longer than their shoe size would indicate,” they reassured us in the research paper. “But this would be true only if they adopt an unusually health-oriented lifestyle, with careful attention to diet and exercise.”
Below are their findings; don't say we didn't warn you:
Size 5 – a life expectancy of 63-66
Size 6 – 64-69
Size 7 – 66-69
Size 8 – 67-72
Size 9 – 72-75
Size 10 – 73-77
Size 11 – 75-82
Size 12 – 74-79
Size 13 – 67-72
Size 14 – 66-69
It isn't related to penis size
Small-hoofed men breathe a sigh of relief: there is no truth to reports that men with big feet have a large manhood, and countless studies dispelled the myth. One, conducted by University College London, involved 104 men and measured penises both when soft and "gently stretched". It concluded the assumed relationship was "a common misconception".
Research in Turkey in 2011, however, was less certain. It found a vague correlation between height, weight, BMI (body mass index) and penis size, but not enough evidence to suggest feet alone can determine it.
Instead, it could be your fingers that give away your secrets. South Korean academics last year published a study suggesting men whose index fingers are shorter than their ring fingers are likely to have longer penises. Now you're looking at your hands, aren't you?
It says whether you're a love cheat
The cliché may have been debunked, but there does seem to be some link between shoe size and sex: those with bigger feet are more likely to be adulterous.
According to a poll conducted by Illicit Encounters, the UK's largest dating website for people looking for affairs, the most faithful foot sizes are between 7 and 9, while those wearing 10s (and above) are three times more likely to cheat.
It can predict a growth spurt
It won't come as a surprise to learn that height and foot size are related – after all, the largest feet in Britain belong to a 6ft 8in rugby player – but there is little evidence to say that it's a direct correlation. What big feet can predict, however, is an imminent growth spurt in teenagers.
"During puberty, the hands and feet enlarge before the long bones," states the Harvard Medical School. "So for many, one of the first indicators that rapid growth is about to begin is an increase in shoe size."
It shows if you're a good sprinter
...but only if the length is in your toes. Relatively long toes compared to the rest of your foot puts a spring in your step when it comes to running fast.
"Sprinters have a stronger, more elastic push off with the toes. And long toes make the overall length of the foot bigger, which means longer contact with the ground, which is where the acceleration happens," David Houlihan-Burne, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon said.
For reference, Usain Bolt has size 13 feet: big even for his 6ft 5in frame. The 6ft 1in Justin Gatlin, meanwhile, wears size 12 running spikes, but Tyson Gay? Just a 9. The jury's out on that one, then.