Everything from serious foot disorders to more common foot and ankle conditions can be exacerbated by one, avoidable cause: inappropriate, poor quality, and/or ill-fitting shoes. Any podiatrist will tell you that a quality, properly fitted shoe pays big dividends for your feet—now and in the future.
The most important quality to look for in shoes is durable construction that will protect your feet and keep them comfortable. Shoes that do not fit properly can cause bunions, corns, calluses, hammertoes and other disabling foot disorders.
Here are some tips to help reduce the risk of foot problems when shopping for shoes:
- Don't force your feet into a pair of shoes in order to conform to the shape of the shoe. The shoe needs to conform to the shape of your foot.
- Fit new shoes to your largest foot. Most people have one foot larger than the other.
- Have both feet measured every time you purchase shoes. Foot size increases as you get older.
- If the shoes feel too tight, don't buy them. There is no such thing as a "break-in period."
- Many high-heeled shoes have a pointed or narrow toe box that crowds the toes and forces them into an unnatural triangular shape. As heel height increases, the pressure under the ball of the foot may double, placing greater pressure on the forefoot as it is forced into the pointed toe box. Limit heel height to two inches or less to protect your feet.
- Shoes should be fitted carefully to your heel as well as your toes.
- Sizes vary among shoe brands and styles. Judge a shoe by how it fits on your foot, not by the marked size.
- There should be a half-inch of space from the end of your longest toe to the end of the shoe.
- Try on new shoes at the end of the day. Your feet normally swell and become larger after standing or sitting during the day, which makes for a better fit.
- Be sure to try on both shoes. Walk around the shoe store in the shoes to make sure they fit well and feel comfortable.
- When the shoe is on your foot, you should be able to freely wiggle all of your toes.