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Poorly fitted shoes can cause bunions, corns, calluses, hammertoes, and other disabling foot problems. The shoes you wear today can determine your foot health in the future. Try to avoid wearing shoes based upon their appearance and focus on comfort and support when purchasing shoes.

Some serious foot disorders, and even more common conditions, can be linked to one avoidable thing: inappropriate, poor quality or ill-fitting shoes. Any podiatrist will tell you that a good quality, properly fitting shoe pays big dividends for your feet down the road.

When shopping for shoes, always make sure to not force your feet in order to conform to the shape of a pair of shoes.

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.

What to Look For
  • Avoid shoes that have seams over areas of pain, such as a bunion
  • Generally athletic shoes are more supportive than dress shoes. They are also generally easier to accommodate arch supports or orthotics that may be prescribed for your foot condition.
  • Laced, rather than slip-on shoes, provide a more secure fit and can accommodate insoles, orthotic devices and braces
  • Look for soles that are shock absorbing and skid resistant, such as rubber rather than smooth leather
  • The shoe upper should be made of a soft material that has some give, like glove leathers
  • Flat shoes (with a heel height of one inch or less) are the healthiest shoes for your feet. If you must wear a high heel, keep to a heel height of two inches or less, limit them to three hours at a time and take them off coming to and from an activity. Pay close attention to which shoes make your feet hurt more and avoid those types of shoes. No fashion is worth risking permanent injury or prolonged pain.
Fitting Your Shoes
  • 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. Your 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."
  • Most 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.
  • 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 both shoes
  • Try on new shoes at the end of the day. Your feet normally swell and become larger after standing or sitting during the day.
  • Walk around 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
  • Women should not wear a shoe with a heel higher than 2 1/4 inches
Wear Patterns
There are certain abnormal wear patterns on shoes that can be helpful to determine the source of pain that a person is having and also to determine what types of treatment might be helpful as well. When you come to your appointment with a podiatrist, please bring the shoes that you wear frequently so that they can be evaluated for abnormal wear patterns.

Orthotics are shoe inserts that correct an abnormal, or irregular, walking pattern. Generally called arch supports, orthotics allow people to stand, walk, and run more efficiently and comfortably.

Podiatrists sometimes prescribe orthotic devices to correct an abnormal walk, or gait, and often for patients following surgery.

Orthotics may be pre-formed arches or custom made supports. Custom orthotics can be made a variety of ways. Podiatrists have unique biomechanical training to provide a custom foot orthotic that is tailored specifically to your foot's needs. All arch supports are not created equally.


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