When was the last time you had your feet measured? Not tried on a pair of shoes that you believe to be your size, but actually had a professional measure your feet? Too often when we ask this to our patients we get the answer of “I can’t remember” or “not since I was a child”. As we age our weight and lifestyle can have a affect on our feet, but often adults go without regular foot measurements. The device that is industry standard for this is called the Brannock device.
The Brannock device was invented in 1925 by Charles Brannock. At the time there was no industry standard for measuring feet, an important part of Charles Brannock’s life, as the owner of the Park-Brannock Shoe Store in Syracuse, New York. The instrument was used as a sales aid, by ensuring a more correct fitting the device also helped his customers avoid foot problems due to ill-fitting shoes. Poorly fitting shoes were a by-product of the industrial age. Shoes that used to be made one at a time by a cobbler were now being produced en mass, which led to more people wearing shoes that fit just “well enough”.
The popularity of the Brannock device skyrocketed due in part to WWII. The US military used the Brannock device to standardize fitting across all branches of the military, which issued millions of boots and shoes to servicemen. The Brannock Device also gained favor because it measured foot length and width at the same time. Additionally, it could be used to measure heel-to-ball length, a feature which aided in fitting heeled shoes, something that had just gained popularity in modern culture.
Today the Brannock device is the industry standard for shoe measurement all around the globe. So head to your local shoe store or podiatrist to make sure you’re wearing the right size, especially if you haven’t been measured since you were in grade school!