Do Your Shoes Fit?
Our feet contain a quarter of the bones in the body so the type of shoe we wear is important for good foot health. Ill-fitting shoes are the cause of many foot problems we see in clinic.
Ailments caused or worsened by poor footwear include:
• Heel pain
• Metatarsalgia (pain in the forefoot)
• Corns & calluses
• Hammer toe/Clawed toes
• Damaged or In-growing toe nails
According to the College of Podiatry, the average person walks 150,000 miles in their lifetime (5 times around the world), which is a lot of stress on your feet, so it’s important to make sure your shoes fit well!
Shoes should be comfortable and designed for the activity we are doing. Do not rely on shoe size alone when buying shoes, there are many shapes and styles of both shoe and foot. The shoe fit and how comfortable it feels are more important.
What should I look for in a good, everyday shoe?
Take time when choosing new shoes and consider the points below.
1. Squeeze. To check the shoes are providing support, squeeze the heel of the shoe. If the heel counter is firm and doesn’t bend in easily, it will provide more support.
2. Bend. When walking, the sole of the shoe needs to bend where the toes flex. Your foot naturally flexes at the metatarsal joints, just behind the toes.
3. Twist. You should not be able to twist/wring your shoe through the middle. It should remain firm to support the foot arch and body weight.
4. Secure. The foot should be held in the shoe securely, ideally with laces, a buckle or Velcro. This stops the toes jamming into the front of the shoe and helps prevent toe clawing.
5. Rule of thumb. As you walk, the foot slides forward, so leave a thumbs width of space between the longest toe and the end of the shoe.
6. Shape. The shoe’s shape should accommodate the shape of your foot. The foot spreads when weightbearing, and the shoe should allow for this. The widest part of the shoe should match the widest part of the ball of the foot.
7. Depth. The depth of the toebox is also important to prevent pressure to the tops of the toes.
8. Sole. A cushioned sole provides shock-absorption and comfort.
9. Heel. The heel should be broad & stable and no higher than 4cm or 11/2 inches to prevent pressure on the ankle joint or forefoot.
Shop for shoes later in the day. Feet swell through the day and are at their biggest in the evening, so this is the best time to try shoes on.
What if retail shoes don’t fit?
Some people have shoes prescribed by their consultant, GP or podiatrist. These shoes would usually be provided by an orthotist or an orthopaedic shoemaker. This may be ‘stock footwear’ which is extra deep or wide, or ‘bespoke’ footwear that is made to a last specifically for your feet.