I’ve been asked a number of times.........”what type of shoes would you recommend for me?”, “Are there any type of shoes what would work best with my arthritis?”, “I enjoy running, any recommendations?" and "How can I choose the best walking shoes?".
When we choose shoes we need to bear in mind a few things, as it isn’t all about fashion you know! We need to consider function as well as looking after our feet, so we need to opt for something which will help to keep them in good shape. Maybe you have existing foot problems, hence it’s a good idea to not exacerbate these issues, especially as shoes which don’t fit properly can worsen conditions. Unsuitable footwear can play a large role in creating foot problems such as corns, callus & bunions (learn more here about common foot problems). Imagine what your feet would be like if you chose the right shoes……...ah bliss :o) There’s nothing worse than wearing ill-fitting shoes just in the name of fashion.
Note to you all, even those closest to us mightened take the best health advice! I am working my hardest to get my daughter to wear some suitable shoes for her foot health……can you see why below? Yep, they are flat with total lack of support and also as a result she has hard skin (callus) developing. Hopefully she may take notice of my tips below 😊
👞 8 Top tips for choosing the right shoes.
Recommendations from a Podiatrist, like myself can be helpful as to what kind of shoe may be best. I have devised some top tips you can use to consider when shoe shopping:
1. Try shoes on during the afternoon as our feet expand and swell over the course of the day.
2. When you are trying shoes on, remember to take with you any orthotics (insoles) or shoe inserts so you can put them inside the new shoes.
3. Get your feet measured every time you buy new shoes, ensuring you get a good fit. Our feet change the older we get, they may expand in size and sometimes one foot may be a little bigger than the other. This might mean that you have to buy a larger shoe for the larger foot.
4. Make sure you stand during the fitting so that you can get a good idea of the overall fit. Move your toes around to ensure there is plenty of room. You should leave approximately half an inch between your longest toe and the end of your shoe.
5. Also, make sure you walk around in the shoes whilst you are in the shop to see how they feel for you. Shoes should not slip at the back when you walk, you should have some support. Shoes need to fit from the point of purchase - they should not need “breaking in”. The heels need to fit comfortably. Shoes should not press on the big toe; therefore, I would advise against pointed ones. Sorry ladies 😊
6. It’s an idea to go to the shoe fitting with the same type of socks or stockings on which you plan on wearing most often with the actual shoes. Again, so you can get a true fit.
7. In my opinion, ignore shoe size! As with clothes, shoes differ between manufacturers so a 6 in one brand may fit different to another. Take notice of your own judgement and comfort – how does it feel? To check for a proper fit around your heel, you should be able to slide your index finger down the back of the shoe.
8. Occasions should be considered - wear the most appropriate footwear according to where you will be wearing them. For example, if engaging in sports then a specially designed trainer would be best. See below for further info re shoes and occasions.
👠 What consists of a good shoe then?
There's a few parts of the shoe anatomy to consider:
- Heel – shoes should have a wide base and it’s recommended the heel is less than 1.5 inches, so no high heels (however, if you do need to wear them for work, try to limit them solely to work and not outside. Maybe you could look at wearing some other type of shoes when travelling)!
Various foot problems such as corns, callus and bunions can develop as a result of very high heels, especially if worn for long periods of time.
At the opposite end of high heels, flat shoes (like my Daughter's!!) without support aren’t recommended either. So, flat pumps and those lovely gladiator sandals or flip flops aren’t great! Very flat shoes provide no shock absorbency and very little heel or arch support, potentially leading to foot problems such as heel pain. Additionally, you may experience pain in other areas of the body such as your back and hips.
- Sole – there should be plenty of cushioning and protection in the sole. The sole ideally should be thick so that it can absorb the impact of the foot hitting the floor when walking. A good sole needs to provide plenty of grip to stop the risk of slipping. This is particularly important for those of you who love to run.
- Insole - orthotics are needed for some people so shoes where the insole can be removed would be ideal.
- Fastenings - the foot should ideally be held securely within the shoe so those with fastenings such as velcro, laces or straps with buckles are great.
- Upper and linings - shoes made with a breathable material are ideal, e.g., suede, leather or gortex. Breathable materials also help to keep our feet fresher.
- Toe box - toes need to be able to move around properly. See top tip 4 above also.
🧦 You may be thinking what if I need/want to wear certain types of footwear?
I totally understand that thought, for example, some people who are maybe housebound, elderly or just fancy being snug indoors may love/need to wear slippers. There's nothing better than being tucked up in the house with my slippers on and a lovely cuppa :o)
Or in the Summer, maybe sandals work better with the heat. Consider the below then:
I would recommend you purchase sandals with buckles or straps which can be adjusted. Our feet may swell a bit with heat so the aforementioned works better. Bear in mind however that if you have diabetes, sandals don’t provide that much-needed protection against injury (see below under ‘Footwear and common foot problems’).
Boots should have enough room so as to not restrict circulation. Make sure they are easy to remove.
Slippers should have plenty of cushioning in the sole and fastenings which are adjustable, in order to improve fit, so that you can keep them on better. I would advise against backless slippers as they don’t provide support. Remember to replace slippers especially when they don’t fit you properly anymore as this helps to prevent falls.
Depending on what type of job you are in, safety boots may be needed. Check that the ones you purchase show the British Kitemark or CE mark. Safety boots should be comfortable and where possible have cushioned soles and room.
👞 Footwear and common foot problems
As this can affect your feet in terms of the joints, it may be hard to find comfy footwear. Shoes which have ample room at the front to move your toes around are ideal, along with insoles which absorb shock. In terms of the sole, those which are flexible, thick and lightweight are best as they can protect your feet more effectively.
Like with arthritis, shoes which have ample room at the front for your toes to move around are ideal, as are those which have plenty of room across the ball of the foot and over the instep. They should align with the shape and size of your foot. As already mentioned, sandals aren’t great due to the lack of
protection against injury. To prevent ulcers, blisters and callus, shoes should help to relieve any excessive pressure and friction, they should also be breathable and have a snug fit around the heel area.
It’s vital you look after your feet if you are diabetic – see my top tips for diabetic foot care here.
🧦 Occasions, hobbies, etc.
It’s a good idea to go to a shop where they specialise in athletic/running footwear. At least, this type of shop will be able to advise on the most suitable shoe for your feet as we are all different. Our foot arches should be taken into account as some people have high ones, others low.
Shoes should have plenty of cushioning, be supportive and there should be approximately half an inch between your longest toe and the end of your shoe. The heels should be firmly supported and toes should have a little room on the sides. Also, refer to tips 2 and 6 under my ‘Top tips for choosing the right shoes’ above.
If you enjoy walking, especially long walks or hikes, it’s vital you wear appropriate footwear which will protect your feet and potentially prevent dreaded foot problems. Regarding walking boots, I would recommend choosing a pair which have laces so that you can keep your feet firmly in position. Wearing footwear which keeps your feet in place helps prevent foot problems such as blisters.
Taking into account the anatomy of the shoe, make sure to purchase ones with a tough, long-lasting sole which can provide you with good grip and protection. Leather uppers work well for walking as they are durable and they allow your feet to stay dry due to the breathable material - great if you are prone to sweating. Leathers also mould to the shape of your foot, hence giving you a good fit.
I would suggest heading to my other blog post 'Keeping fit and your feet. Get ready for those lovely spring time walks :)' for some tips on getting the most out of your walking - here.
So, there you go. Please note that everything above is for guidance only. If you need further advice then please contact myself for an appointment, where I can provide an assessment, treatment and advice.
Remember it is vital you look after your feet....here's some top tips.
Also, my Facebook page is regularly updated with helpful info - www.facebook.com/themobilefootclinicsunderland
Now, I am off to nag my daughter further about those very ill-fitting shoes 😊