Maybe there’s nothing wrong with your shoes – especially if you’re already a comfortista. But if you’re new to comfort plus style, the odds are against it.
Here are some of the most common ways your shoes might be wrong for you.
Shoes are Too Small
A widely-cited 1993 study by the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society found that most women wear shoes that are too small. Now, 20 years later just about any podiatrist can tell you that nothing much has changed, and the proof lies in the continuing epidemic of shoe size-related injuries and deformities such as bunions and hammertoes.
Getting a good fit starts with having your feet measured – something the study also found women weren’t doing. Here’s how to measure:
- Get feet measured late in the day, when feet are largest.
- Have both feet measured in case one is larger, and if so buy the larger size.
- Take width measurements as well.
There are certain styles you should think twice about, such as super-pointy toes. If you can’t resist them, look for toes that start getting pointy past the portion of the shoe where your toes will actually sit.
Look at the bottom of the shoes you like also. This is so you can make sure the soles conform to the shape of your feet through the middle. With a sandal or a shoe with a flexible upper, you may not even notice that part of your arch is overhanging an overly-hourglass sole until you’re wearing it for real and develop pain in the arch or ball of the foot.
Shoes are Too High
You knew this was coming, didn’t you? How we love our dangerous high heels. There are some ways to make them safer, though:
- Avoid the stilettos and get a chunkier heel for better stability.
- Go for styles that include heel and midfoot support.
- Shop for heels with a true height of less than three inches.
- Set limits for yourself as to where you wear your heels and for how long.
Shoes Don’t Measure Up
If some shoes are too high for safety and comfort, can others be too low? It depends.
Take ballet flats, for example. If you have a healthy foot and you’re just hanging out at the coffee house, they’re probably fine. But if you have a flat foot that requires arch support and know you’ll be doing some walking, you may need to add supportive insoles to the flats or to change shoes altogether. Otherwise you may risk pain and injury.
This brings us to flip-flops. Most are not built to do anything more than shield you from fungi during the short trip from the locker room to the showers, but there are some notable exceptions that won’t wring a wail of despair from your podiatrist.
We hope you’ll take care to match your shoes to the activity and to the particular needs of your feet.