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Evaluation of Shoe Fit

How to Purchase Shoes that Fit Well

Poorly fitting shoes are generally one of the largest causes of injuries to the feet.  Improper fitting shoes lead to toenail bruising, ingrown toenails, blisters, Morton’s Neuromas  and many other pathologies.  I am often asked as a podiatrist what brand of shoe can I wear, and my answer is there are many good brands of shoes, but the fit is the most important.  At one time the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine recommended  specific brands of running shoes and even listed models and types however the shoe manufacturers change models and manufacturing techniques very quickly and market shoes in many different ways that now make it impossible to recommend specific brands.

There are a few simple things to look for when purchasing new shoes.

  1. There needs to be a half inch or approximately 1 thumbnails length away from the longest toe, in some people is the big toe but in others it could be the second toe. A way of doing this in some shoes is to remove the inlay from the shoe and stand on the inlay this will give you a good idea if your toes are up to the edge or hanging off the shoe is too small. See Picture
  2. The heel should fit snug not tight. It should not slip when walking.
  3. The arch should feel supportive and snug but should never feel painful.
  4. Shoes should be comfortable in the store, often shoes feel great in the store however the amount of time in the store is short. It is a good idea to find out the stores return policy and wear them around your house for a couple of hours especially later in the day, if the shoes are still comfortable at that time they are probably a good fit for you.
  5. Shoe size is a guide. Shoe size changes as we get older and in women especially after pregnancy.  It is okay to use a device to measure your foot to get an idea of  size but without trying shoes on it is impossible to know the correct fit.  This is even true if you have been wearing the same brand in the same model for a long period of time as the models are slightly adjusted and the factories manufacturing them change over time.
  6. The cost of the shoe does not always tranlate to the quality, so do not be deceived by inexpensive shoes or very expensive shoes, sometimes the least expensive shoe is a much better fit and the most expensive shoe.
  7. I know this is a tough sell to women but remember if you want pain-free feet you must choose function over fashion. This is not to say that occasionally a woman can go out in her pretty high heeled shoes but the majority of life should be spent in properly fitting comfortable shoes.


Dr. Steven Lemberger Steven Lemberger, DPM, DACFAS Board Certified Podiatrist & Foot Surgeon located in Freehold, NJ Director of Medical of Education at CentraState Medical Center

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