A change of seasons often comes with a change in wardrobe, and we won’t disagree with that!
When it comes to your footwear, a quarterly check-up is never a bad thing. If any of your shoes are wearing out, it’s best to invest in something new.
(By the way, one of the easiest ways to tell whether your shoes need to be replaced is looking at the heel. If it has become angled through wear, it’s no longer providing the support and stability you need. Or maybe you just don’t like them anymore! Not everything has to be podiatric science.)
When you do search for your newest shoes, you want to make sure they’re suited for your feet. The right choices can make the difference between cruising comfortably through your day and running into miserable, painful problems.
So, if you’re looking for some new footwear for autumn walks, winter relaxing, or really any point in the year, here are some things to keep in mind.
Examining a Shoe from the Outside
You don’t need to stick your foot inside a shoe to start learning a few important things about its makeup.
The materials that make a shoe are important factors when it comes to comfort and “breathability.” Canvas, cotton, leather, and similar natural materials are good at not trapping moisture so much, reducing risks of problems with odor or fungal infections. You will want to look at shoes made from these items if your feet sweat heavily or if you will be wearing your shoes for the majority of your day.
Synthetic materials such as vinyl and rubber are more likely to trap moisture and make things uncomfortable.
Handling the shoe can also tell you a few things right off the bat—namely, where it should be flexible and where it shouldn’t.
Flex the front of the shoe where your toes would bend- there should be some give here. The shoe should also be a little flexible when you grab it from both ends and try to twist it.
Where a shoe should not be very flexible is the heel. You should not be able to easily shift the shoe side to side over this area in the back.
When is the last time you’ve measured your feet? You might feel your shoe size has found its permanent number since you’ve become an adult, but you’d be surprised that are feet can still change as we age!
A knowledgeable associate at any standard shoe store should be happy to take a measurement for you. The best time to measure is later in the afternoon, when feet tend to be their biggest size due to a day under the pressures of gravity.
Also, don’t feel sheepish getting both feet measured. Feet do not always end up the same size! You will want to opt for shoe sizes more accommodating to your larger foot.
Once you have your shoe size in mind, however, note that not every shoe in the store marked with that number is going to be your perfect match. Just as with other articles of clothing a certain size in one brand is not going to always equal the same in another. Your shoe size is a good starting point.
Finding the Best Fit
When you have some good candidates, they should pass the fit test in important areas.
Toe space is very important. Stand in the shoes and make sure there is about a half-inch of space between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. It should be about the width of your finger. A lack of space here can increase the risk of toe pain and nail damage.
Is the toe box also deep enough to fit your toes comfortably without cramming or constriction? This is especially important if you have a condition such as bunions or hammertoes that might result in the shoe rubbing against these areas. The more room you have, the easier it will be to prevent sores from developing.
Once ready, take your shoes for a quick test walk around the store. The sole of your foot should fit comfortably within the widest section, and the heel should only slip very minimally, if at all.
A shoe that feels too tight or rubs anywhere is not a good fit, period. Shoes should not be “broken in.” Don’t even think about it, no matter how much you want that shoe. (You can probably find the size you need online, anyway.)
Different Needs Require Different Shoes!
All the above advice makes sense for general shoe buying, but a general shoe is not always what you’re looking for.
When it comes to athletic shoes, your activity will pose different needs to keep your foot protected and supported. Always use shoes that are specifically made for your sport or pastime, and head to a committed sport or running store when possible. The associates there will have plenty of good advice toward fitting a shoe to your play style.
There may also be qualities about your foot itself that may require additional attention when shoe shopping. Having high arches or flat feet can make a significant difference toward your needs as far as cushioning and stability are concerned.
In some cases, the best route for finding optimal comfort for arch and other related conditions might not lie in shoes themselves, but custom orthotic inserts placed within them. We would be more than happy to help you determine whether simple shoe changes would suffice, or if additional support is needed.
If you have any questions about how shoes should fit your foot care needs or have any other foot and ankle problems in need of addressing, never hesitate to give our office a call at (510) 647-3744. Dr. Miyazaki and our staff are always accepting new patients.