What is the first thing you consider when selecting a new pair of shoes? Be honest.
You might feel like we’d admonish you somehow if you said “style,” but let’s be realistic. We are not the Podiatry Police. Why would anyone ever want to buy a pair of shoes they don’t actually enjoy wearing?
Style is important, but style also consists of many elements. Some of these elements you might consider quite fetching or within the current fashion trends can have very uncomfortable consequences over time.
The choice of what you wear on your feet is ultimately up to you, of course. Our job is to recommend the best qualities in footwear to help maintain your overall foot health, reduce pain, and prevent chronic problems from cropping up. “Style” will not always rail against these recommendations, but choosing something a bit more reasonable to your foot health can make a huge difference whenever a choice arises.
When looking for your next pair of footwear, keep the following qualities in mind:
A Roomy Toe Box
While open-toed shoes do not have so much to worry about in this regard, closed-toed shoes should always have enough room for your toes to wiggle and lie flat.
They should not be crammed together sardines, nor should they be forced into a pointy front. External stresses placed on the toes this way can contribute to a variety of problems, including corns, calluses, ingrown toenails, and even the progression of existing bunions or hammertoes.
This might be a quality that will see a great deal of contention in many shoe aficionados, but high heels can cause plenty of damage to your feet over time.
First, they force the feet into a position that places significant pressure against the forefoot. This can contribute to the conditions mentioned above, as well as painful neuromas (growths of tissue around nerves).
High heels also tend to throw off your posture, forcing muscles up your legs and back to shift to accommodate. The higher the heels, the more severe the effects and the more likely you’re to end up aching.
If you must have heels, opt for styles that are two inches or lower. And instead of stilettos, go for a wider heel shape. This will provide you better posture and stability—not to mention much more comfort during a long day!
A Sturdy Construction
If heels are bad, then a pair of ballet flats would be ideal, right? Unfortunately, not really. While extreme heels can wreak havoc on your feet, so can not having enough support.
There are some people who can go throughout their whole lives barefoot without any problems, but they have done so through years and years of conditioning. The rest of us should have shoes that provide proper support for our arches and heels.
How do you tell if a shoe is supportive? It should bend relatively easily in the toe area, but not so much in the arch. The backs should not collapse when pinched and be high enough to cradle the heel without allowing it to slip off.
A Proper Fit at Any Time of Day
No matter what style of shoe you have, it can cause problems if it doesn’t properly fit your foot.
Shoes that are too tight and constraining can cause friction-related problems as well as circulation-related ones. Shoes that are too loose can cause your foot to slide around within the shoe, also causing friction-related problems and potentially toenail trauma from your toes repeatedly slamming against the front of your shoes.
To ensure you’re getting the best fit, try to do your shoe shopping during the later part of a day. By this point, you have been standing and walking all day, and your feet are naturally larger due to bearing this weight.
Also, make sure you are using the same types of socks or stockings you would regularly have on while wearing the shoes. Making sure these conditions are right can help ensure the best fit.
And remember: if the shoe initially feels too tight or not “right” in any way, then it is not the right shoe for you. Do not “give it time” or “break it in.” If it doesn’t fit on the first try, then it simply doesn’t fit, period!
Additional Factors for Fit
Depending on certain personal circumstances, you might wish to consider some additional matters.
If you use custom orthotics, for example, you will want to find shoes that have removable and replaceable insoles. Otherwise, the shoes likely won’t fit well when you try to insert your gear.
Other existing conditions you might have, such as toe deformities or heel pain, might also have more influence on what type of footwear would be best for you. So may the activities and sports you enjoy doing most.
When it comes to making the best footwear choices for your long-term health, we are more than happy to discuss what would make the most sense for you. Schedule an appointment with our Berkeley office by calling (510) 647-3744. Or, if you prefer to contact us electronically, fill out our online contact form and a member of our staff will respond during our standard office hours.