Our feet bear an enormous burden of daily living as well as carrying the weight of our body. Shoes play a vital role in supporting our feet, as well as in protecting them from external dangers.
The ideal shoe
There is no such thing as the one perfect shoe. Feet come in many shapes and sizes, and are involved in many different activities. When buying new shoes, it’s important to ensure:
- They fit properly.
- They are supportive for the kinds of activities you engage in.
- They do not cause damage to you feet or hurt in any way.
The importance of a good fit
Choosing shoes that fit well is an important part of caring for your feet. Finding the right fit may mean you have to try a few different styles to accommodate your individual foot shape. Because feet are rarely the same size, it is important that you it your shoes to your larger foot. An experienced footwear sales person can help you with this. Since most shoe manufacturers have their own size range, you should make decisions on what feels right, rather than simply based on the shoe being the “right size”.
People who have misshapen feet from an injury or medical condition, such as arthritis or diabetes, may require shoes with extra depth or width. Some people may require orthoses (inserts). Occasionally, a custom-made shoe will be most suitable.
Shoe buying tips
When buying new shoes, keep in mind the following:
- Materials: Leather is generally preferred for shoe uppers, however synthetics developed with specific beneficial properties, eg. stretch, may be preferable for some foot deformities. Synthetic or rubber are best for the sole as they are often more durable, shock absorbent and provide better grip.
- Security: All shoes, especially walking shoes, should be secured on the feet with laces, straps or buckles. If your feet have to work to hold your shoes in place, your foot muscles may be strained.
- Shape: Pointy shoes can make your toes “claw”. This may affect overall body posture. Clenched toes can also cause rubbing, leading to corns and calluses. Broad-toed shoes allow the toes more room and can help prevent pressure injuries.
Also check the following:
- The heel of the shoes is less than 2.5cm (high heels increase pressure on the ball of the foot).
- Your shoes have well-padded sole. A cushioned sole absorbs shock and reduces pressure on the feet.
- Your shoes are made from a material that breathes – fungal infections like tinea love a warm, moist environment. Absorptive socks can also help draw moisture away.
- Your shoes protect you from injury – your feet must be protected from your immediate environment. People with reduced sensation or circulation problems need to be especially careful they do not injure their feet.
Footwear at work
If you work in a field that increases the chance of you injuring your feet then safety shoes are vital. Safety shoes and boots protect your feet, help prevent injuries and reduce the severity of injuries that occur in the workplace.
- Your toes should not touch the end of your shoes or you may damage your nails and toes – you need a gap of about 1cm from the end of your largest toe to the shoe.
- Shoes should also be broad enough and deep enough. If you can see the outline of your feet pressing against your shoes, they are probably too narrow.
- Don’t buy shoes that need breaking in. Shoes should be immediately comfortable.
- Shop for shoes later in the day – most feet tend to swell during the day and it is best to fit shoes when your feet are largest.
Information sourced from the Australian Podiatry Association.