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Finding Good Footwear

Overview

The following tips on good footwear may prevent toe, foot, or ankle problems or injuries.

  • Have your feet measured regularly.

    The size of your feet may change as you grow older.

  • Have both feet measured.

    Often one foot is larger than the other. The shoes should be fitted to the larger foot.

  • Don't choose shoes based on the size marked inside.

    Sizes vary among shoe brands and styles. Pick shoes by how they fit your feet.

  • Choose a shoe that fits the shape of your foot.

    Look for a shoe that conforms as nearly as possible to the shape of your forefoot (the front, widest part of your foot).

  • Look for roomy footwear with a wide toe box.

    Consider laced shoes that have enough room for your toes to wiggle. Athletic shoes are a good choice. High-top laced shoes may give foot and ankle support.

  • Make sure the heel fits.

    Your heel should fit comfortably in the shoe with a minimum amount of slipping (pistoning).

  • Avoid high-heeled, narrow, and pointed-toe shoes if you can.

    High-heeled shoes increase pressure on the front of the foot. If you cannot avoid wearing pumps or high-heeled shoes, look for a pair that gives your toes more room.

    • Choose shoes with heels that are no more than 2 in. ( 5 cm) high.
    • Alternate these shoes with flat, roomy shoes to give your toes a chance to move freely.
  • Look for shoes made of materials that "give" or stretch.

    They will be the most comfortable for your toes and feet.

  • Look for shoes that do not have seams.

    This will prevent rubbing or irritation of the skin.

  • Find comfortable shoes for home.

    Consider sandals, soft leather flat shoes, slippers, or inexpensive cloth shoes for at-home wear. If you have an enlarged toe joint, cut a hole in the cloth shoes.

  • Plan to buy your shoes at the end of the day.

    Your foot is more swollen at the end of the day. Foot size may vary half a size from the morning to the evening or after a day at work.

  • Stand during the fitting process.

    Your foot is longer when you stand up. There should be one finger's width [about 0.5 in. ( 13 mm)] between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. For the most comfort, the shoe should not be more than 0.25 in. ( 6 mm) narrower than the width of your foot when you are standing.

  • Walk around the store.

    Make sure that the fit feels right in both shoes.

Credits

Current as of: March 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine
Gavin W.G. Chalmers DPM - Podiatry and Podiatric Surgery

Research Health Topics

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