Everyone has a different idea of what the right shoes are. For some, it’s a matter of style. You wouldn’t normally wear cowboy boots with an evening gown, for example, or a pair of heels with athletic pants. However, for a podiatrist there are two main components to choosing the right shoes: function and fit. Let’s examine each one separately.
Function: Why You Wear Shoes
- To protect your feet.
Shoes are a way to keep our feet from being injured or infected. Hard soles protect against sharp objects that could cut or stones and bumps that could bruise your feet. High tops on basketball shoes lend stability to your ankles to reduce sprains and fractures. Steel toe boots protect your toes from heavy objects. Even flip-flops help keep fungus away in the gym shower.
- To perform your activities better.
Running shoes provide stability and cushioning against repeated stress on the feet. Cleats on baseball shoes help give you traction on the diamond. The deep tread on hiking boots grabs onto rocks and slippery surfaces better. Proper cushioning helps teachers, nurses, and others work a long day without their legs and feet getting too tired and sore.
- To be stylish.
Let’s face it—this is a main reason for so many of the shoes that end up causing foot problems. That pair of spiked high heels can complete the look of a pretty summer dress, and those pointed ballerina shoes make that flirty skirt look just right. Unfortunately, these can also contribute to problems like heel and arch pain, bunions and hammertoes, and pain under the ball of your foot.
We want you to pick the right shoes for your activity, and the right ones to protect your feet. When the shoe supports your feet properly, your posture is better, too, reducing knee, hip and back problems. So find out what arch style you have, and look for a pair designed with the support you need. Look for those with moderate heels as well, so all the pressure isn’t forced onto your forefoot.
How to Fit Shoes
Here are some common tips when shopping for shoes:
- Go later in the day when your feet may have swollen a bit. That is the best way to know if the shoe will be comfortable all day long.
- Measure your feet. This is especially important for children (whose feet grow so quickly) and after pregnancy or weight gain (which can alter the shape and size of your foot).
- Don’t choose by size number. Shoe size varies with styles and manufacturers, so use the number as a starting point but don’t be afraid to go up or down in size to make sure they fit. Also, make sure you test the width—you may need a wider or narrower pair.
- Match the shape of your foot. Do your toes come to a point in the front? If not, the shoe shouldn’t either. Rounder toe boxes are kinder to your feet.
- Test for gaps. Find your longest toe, and make sure there is a thumb’s width beyond it at the front of your shoe. The heel should be snug, but when your foot is at its forward point in the shoe, there should be a bit of slack at the back.
- Walk around in them. Several minutes is best. Wear one pair while looking around for others to try on, so you get a good test of how they feel. They should be comfortable at the start and not need to be “broken in.”
There are other things to check, such as the quality of construction, the arch support, the cushioning, and the tread. Make sure the latter is not so slippery that it might cause a fall.
Berkeley Podiatrist Can Advise You on Shoe Choice
If you aren’t sure what type of foot structure you have or what kind of shoes you should look for, call and set up an evaluation with Yuko Miyazaki, DPM. We can diagnose foot problems and help you with shoe choice. Call our East Bay area office today at (510) 647-3744, or set up your appointment using our contact form online.