Wearing uncomfortable, ill-fitting, or lesser-quality footwear can lead to a host of foot and ankle problems, as well as foot injuries and even foot deformities over time.
Use this checklist to make sure you choose the best shoe to head off foot issues before they start:
- Footwear should have a comfortable, durable design, be made of high quality materials, and protect the feet from injury. A proper fit is top priority (see the suggested shoe fitting guidelines below).
- Never buy a shoe based on looks alone; brand, design, style, and color should come second to a proper, comfortable fit.
- Heel heights of one inch or less, or flat shoes, are best for your feet. If high heels must be worn, do not go higher than two inches and avoid wearing them for periods longer than three hours. The higher the heel, the greater the pressure on the forefoot. The heel counter should be padded on the inside and rigid on the outside.
- Avoid shoes with narrow or pointed toe boxes that crunch and put pressure on the toes.
- Soles should have a good tread to avoid slips and falls; they should also be shock absorbent. Although rubber soles are best, thick rubber soles that extend over the tip of the toe box can cause accidental falls if they snag while walking.
- Uppers should be made of soft, breathable material that offers unrestricted movement.
- Inside the shoe, make sure there are not raised seams that can cause friction and irritation, especially if they rub against problem areas like bunions or corns.
- Laces provide the best fit and support, as opposed to slip-on footwear.
To ensure a proper fit, be sure to stick with the following advice when trying on new shoes:
- Since most people have two differently-sized feet, make sure both feet are measured and the shoe size accommodates the larger of the two feet.
- It is best to try on shoes at the end of the day when feet are swollen and larger from a day’s worth of activity.
- Try on shoes with the socks that you will actually wear.
- All types of footwear should fit comfortably from the start. If shoes are too tight, do not think they will fit better after a “break-in period; this is a myth.
- There should be a half-inch of space between the longest toe and the tip of the shoe’s toe box, which is about the width of an adult’s thumb. The toes should have enough wiggle room to move around without restriction.
- The heel of the shoe should fit snugly so the heel does not slip out when walking.
- Shoe size varies from brand to brand, as well as from style to style. Make sure you go by how a shoe fits your foot and not just the size marked on the shoe.
- Walk around the store several times to make sure the shoes fit properly when in motion. Check the foot for any redness that could indicate rubbing or pressure.