The Importance of Choosing the Right Shoe
Shoes protect our feet, enable us to walk wherever we want, and provide comfort when we are on our feet for long periods of time. Finding shoes that properly fit your feet is key to preventing an array of injuries and discomforts. However, according to a 2018 study, only 28 to 37 percent of people are actually wearing shoes of the right length and width.
Wearing ill-fitting shoes can cause both short-term and long-term health problems, including:
- Corns – A “plug” of hard, dead skin that occurs over a body area, caused by prolonged pressure to a specific area.
- Nail problems – Examples include ingrown toenails (caused when the sides of the nail pierce the surrounding skin) and fungal toenail infections.
- Athlete’s foot – A dermatophyte (fungal species living in the skin) causing intense itching, inflammation and flaking of the skin.
- Collapsed arches – A situation when somebody’s feet have low or no arches, and consequently press flat on the ground.
- Back pain – Lumbar spinal muscle action can be exacerbated, leading to overuse with eventual stiffening and posture changes.
- Joint pain – Prolonged overloading as a result of shoes that don’t provide adequate support can ultimately cause all sorts of joint problems such as arthritis and knee pain – especially in the case of high heels.
Pain and discomfort are clear signs that your shoes are the wrong size, but sometimes, a poor fit might not be obvious. If you notice any of these issues, it might be time to check your shoe size and fit:
- Bruising on your toenails
- Toenail loss or damage
- Skin irritation around your toenails.
To make sure you find the right fit, consider these tips when searching for new shoes:
- Have your feet measured at a shoe store. The employees there are professionals who are trained to help you find the right fit.
- Shop for shoes later in the day. Most everyone develops some swelling in their feet by the end of the day, so doing this ensures you don’t buy shoes that are too tight.
- Take a tracing of your foot with you. Place any shoe you think you might buy on top of the tracing. If the shoe is narrower or shorter than the tracing, don’t even try it on.
- Try before you buy! Not every brand of shoe has the same fit (a size 8 in one brand may feel like a 7.5 in another brand), so trying the shoe on first is ideal when possible.
- Wear the same type of socks to the store that you intend to wear with the shoe.
- Stand in the shoes. Press gently on the top of the shoe to make sure you have about a half-inch of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. This provides enough room for your foot to press forward as you walk. Wiggle your toes to make sure there’s enough room.
- Walk around in the shoes to determine how they feel. Is there enough room at the balls of the feet? Do the heels fit snugly, or do they pinch or slip off? Don’t rationalize that the shoes just need to be “broken in.” Find shoes that fit from the start.
- Pay attention to width as well as length. If the ball of your foot feels compressed in a particular shoe, ask if it comes in a wider size.