Last generation of foot-bound women balance physical disadvantage in old age

Women who underwent foot-binding are experiencing higher levels of osteoperosis as they reach their 80s, but maintain the same likelihood of fragility fractures as  those who avoided the archaic practice, a recent study found.

China banned foot-binding  – tightly wrapping a child’s foot in order to stunt growth and produce small feet, often performed as a show of status – in 1912.

As the last generation of Chinese women who experienced foot-binding reach old age, many have managed to overcome the major physical disadvantages, a recent survey found.

Resarchers led by  the Chinese University of Hong Kon surveyed  254 women aged 65-80,  174 of which  had bound feet as children, in a remote region of Yunnan province.

They found that, while bound feet resulted in higher rates of osteoporosis,  the impact on balance and other physical limitations were minimal.

“Results did not reveal any statistically significant differences in any categorical responses, including physical functioning, general health vitality and a  physical component summary score, and number of previous fractures,” the study, Lifelong bound feet in China: a quantitative ultrasound and lifestyle questionnaire study in postmenopausal women, said.

” No impairment of body balance was found.”

The  likely reason for such a low man-made impact, the study asserts, is due to a lifetime of physical activity to compensate balance.

“Implying the importance of improving or maintaining body balance in overall prevention strategies against fragility fractures,” it said.

The study was published online at BMJOpen on March 17.