Properly fitted shoes are a leading factor in caring for one’s feet. Many painful foot problems such as bunions, calluses, corns and hammer toes are the result of ill-fitting shoes. Shoes with high heels and narrow toes, in particular, increase forefoot pressure that often leads to pain and deformity. A sizer that one can bring while shopping for shoes can be easily made. A 10-point guide in choosing footwear that fit properly from the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society are presented.

Your feet support you – and your feet need your support. They need good care: this means (among other things) wearing shoes that fit well.

Shoes that don’t fit your feet can cause a number of painful foot problems. The list includes bunions, corns, calluses, and hammer toes. Women who wear shoes with a very high heel and a narrow toe are at particular risk for these problems, since this kind of shoe can constrict the foot and cause pain and deformity.

Fortunately, if you pay close attention to your shoes, you can help prevent some of these foot problems. The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society has helped develop guidelines on buying shoes that fit properly.

If you must wear high heels, try to find a pair with a lower heel and a roomy (and rounded) toe. Try not to wear the high heels too long. If you wear them at work, for example, you might want to switch to sneakers at lunch or while commuting to and from work. When you shop for casual shoes, consider looking at men’s footwear, which usually have lots of room in the forefoot.

You may find it helpful to prepare a sizer that you can carry along when you are shoe shopping. To make the sizer, use a ruler to measure the width of your foot (while standing) from the first to the fifth toe, and mark it on an index card. Below this, mark off widths that are 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch narrower. Use these marks to measure the width of the shoe that you are thinking of buying.

Buying Shoes: 10 Points for a Good Fit

  1. Don’t choose shoes by their size – choose them by how they fit on your feet. (Remember, sizes vary among different shoe brands and styles.)
  2. The size of your feet changes as you grow older. It’s a good idea to have your feet remeasured regularly.
  3. In most people, one foot is larger than the other. When you go shoe-shopping, have both feet measured. Then select shoes that fit the largest foot.
  4. Try to find shoes that conform as closely as possible to the shape of your foot.
  5. If possible, try on shoes at the end of the day: that’s when your feet are their largest and widest.
  6. Stand up when you are trying on shoes. Make sure there is enough space between the end of the shoe and your longest toe. “Enough space” usually means that you should have room to put your finger between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe.
  7. Make sure the ball of your foot fits comfortably into the widest part of the shoe.
  8. Don’t buy shoes that feel tight, hoping that they will “stretch.”
  9. Select shoes that fit your heel comfortably and that allow a minimum amount of slippage.
  10. Walk in the shoes you want to buy to make sure they fit and feel right.