Wearing the right shoe can be like night and day. If you think about it, on average, a person may walk up to 160,000 kilometers in their lifetime. That is equivalent to walking around the earth 4 times! Each step taken can exert pressure on your feet that exceeds your body weight, while running can increase that by up to three to four times! It’s no wonder the shoes on our feet are so important. This week, we will talk about what to look for when buying shoes.
Going shoe shopping can be extremely overwhelming. From the brands, to prices, to styles, where do you even begin? To start, it’s good to think about what the shoes will be used for. Are you using them to walk, to exercise, or to run? This can be important because shoes are made differently depending on the activity or exercise. For instance, running shoes are made with more cushioning and shock absorption to accommodate high impact forces. Walking shoes may have a rocker-bottom sole to help with easy toe-off. Cross-training shoes may have a wider forefoot base to allow for more stable side-to-side movement. It’s always a good idea to speak to the sales staff to help with your decision. I will now take you through some criteria to look for when buying shoes and tips on how to find the perfect fit.
Wrap your hands around the back of your heel. This area of the shoe is known as the heel counter. The heel counter should be sturdy and hard. This is necessary to help prevent your heel from sliding around and moving too much while walking. It locks or secures your heel in place to prevent excessive motion. When buying shoes, grab the shoe and squeeze the heel counter to make sure that it’s hard and doesn’t collapse in your hand.
The front portion of your shoe is known as the toe box. This area is particularly important for those who have digital deformities such as bunions, clawed toes, hammer toes, etc. The shape, size and height of the toe box can be the difference between comfortable and uncomfortable shoes for your feet. The toe box should be able to accommodate all your toes without causing any rubbing or pressure on them. Toe boxes that are shallow and pointy can squeeze toes together and press down on them, which can lead to callus and corn formation. I like to recommend shoes with a rounded or square toe box to prevent squishing of toes and rubbing against the top of your toes.
Bend and twist the shoe:
When buying shoes in store, you should bend and twist the shoe. A good pair of shoes should resist being twisted; you should not be able to ring the shoe out like a rag. The shoe should only be able to bend in one area. Where your toes bend should be the only part of the shoe where it should also bend.
It is not commonly known, but shoes may come in different widths. Certain shoe brands will carry different size widths. They are a little trickier to find but if you have bunions or bunionettes, having the right width of shoe can help immensely. It’s important to have your foot properly measured when purchasing shoes to determine whether you require another width.
Women width sizes are as follows: ‘4A’ extra narrow, ‘2A’ narrow, ‘B’ standard, ‘D’ wide, ‘2E’ extra-wide, ‘4E’ extra extra-wide.
Men width sizes are as follows: ‘2A’ extra narrow, ‘B’ narrow, ‘D’ standard, ‘2E’ wide, ‘4E’ extra-wide, ‘6E’ extra extra-wide.
Tips when buying shoes:
- Shop for shoes at the end of the day – it’s when your foot is most swollen and at its biggest.
- Wear the same type of socks that you intend to wear with the shoe when trying them on in store.
- (If possible) Remove the insole out of the shoe and place it on the ground. Take your foot and place it on-top of the insole. Are all parts of your feet laying on-top of the insole? If you notice toes or bony deformities hanging over the insole, it means that either the shoe is too small or not wide enough.
- You should have at least one finger width from the tip of your LONGEST toe to the edge of the insole.
- Have the sales staff measure both feet every time. Sizes vary between manufacturers. As well, our feet tend to spread as we age. This might lead to an increase in shoe size or width.
- If one foot is larger than the other, always purchase the size of shoe that accommodates the larger foot.
- Ask about the store return policy when shoe shopping. If possible, buy the shoes and bring them home. Wear them indoors at home for a couple days, and see whether there are any signs of redness or irritation on your feet.
- Stick your hand inside the shoe; feel around for any seams or tags that may cause irritation to your feet.
- Don’t purchase shoes with the intention of stretching them out or breaking them in. They should feel comfortable right away.
- The upper of the shoe should be made of a soft and flexible material to prevent any irritation or pressure.
- Depending on your activity level, it’s important to replace your shoes once they’re worn out. If you notice the outer sole of your shoe wearing out or if they are feeling less supportive and cushiony, it’s a good time to replace them.
I hope you were able to learn something new about your feet in the last 6 weeks. Feel free to share this new wealth of knowledge with your loved ones. Remember, we Chiropodists are here to help with all your foot related problems. You’ll be able to find a Chiropodist for all your foot care needs through our college website at http://cocoo.on.ca/. It’s been a pleasure speaking to you all and I hope you all stay safe!