Your feet probably aren’t body parts you think about too often. When you do think about it, you use them to do everything from showering to walking to playing with your kids. Shopping, driving, even sitting at a desk all require you to use your feet.
That’s why taking care of them matters. At some point in their lives, 75% of Americans will have an issue with their foot health. Oftentimes, it comes down to improper footwear.
To make sure you avoid pain or injury, we’ve put together seven of the best tips for finding the right shoes.
1. Measure Your Feet
Wearing shoes that are too small can cause bunions, calluses, and overall discomfort. You may be putting excess pressure on delicate nerves and ligaments in your feet.
Shoes that are too big may make you change the way you walk. That can have negative effects on your posture. It can also affect the alignment of your hips, back, and shoulders.
Whenever you’re purchasing shoes, you should be getting professionally sized, preferably by someone who uses a Brannock device. You could find out that one of your feet is a little bit longer than the other!
Be sure to have both the length and width of your feet measured. You may think you’re a tried-and-true size 10, but you could actually be a size 9.5 with wider feet. As a result, size 10s have always felt more comfortable to you.
As it turns out, your feet can get longer and wider over time. This means if you’ve been a size 7.5 for thirty years, you may want to make sure you’re still a 7.5.
The next time you go to buy shoes, have your feet measured first. Wearing properly-fitted shoes will reduce your likelihood of foot-related problems down the line.
2. Determine How You Will Use Them
Different shoes serve different purposes, fit differently, and can even require different sizes. You may be a size 8 in normal dress shoes, but need a size 8.5 in running shoes.
Why? Because healthy feet change with use. As you walk, stand, or run, your feet will actually expand.
Don’t worry, they won’t swell to twice their size (if they do, see your doctor). They will need extra room within your shoes. If you’re buying active shoes, size up half a size to allow your feet ample space during physical activity.
Secondly, consider the types of socks you’ll be wearing with them. If you’re going to pair them with thick socks, you’ll need more space inside the shoes. If you’re going sock-less, a snugger fit is what you’re looking for.
3. Assess Your Arches
Next, it’s important to assess your arches. Buy shoes with sufficient support depending on how high your arches are.
If you have low arches or tend to pronate when you walk, you may need shoes with arch support. These will help you keep your ankles, hips, and back in proper alignment.
If you have high arches, you likely won’t have to consider shoes with arch support. Shoes with arch support will help you maintain proper posture.
4. Consider the Material
The size of the shoe you buy may also depend on the material. Leather shoes, for instance, may feel snug at first in your usual size. Over time, the leather will soften and the shoes will fit more comfortably.
The same can be said of running shoes, which are usually made of more flexible materials. Over time, and with a lot of wear, they will eventually become looser.
Shoes made of wood, plastic, or stiff fabrics may be less flexible, even over time. Pointed or narrow and comfortable steel toe boots may also require you to size up to avoid pain during use.
5. Try Them On
Of course, trying them on is the best way to determine whether you’re buying comfortable shoes. Though you can’t take shoes home to give them a test-run, take your time in the store. Try both shoes on at the same time and take a few laps around the aisles.
Make sure you have at least an inch of space between the tips of your big toes and the edge of the shoe. While they’re on, rotate your foot into different positions. See if the shoes hit any pressure points as you do so.
How do they fit around your ankle? The bottom of your foot? What about the widest points of your feet or your toes?
Take the time to think about these things, especially if you’re going to be wearing the shoes every day.
6. Explore Other Brands
It can be tempting to stick to the same brand you’ve loved for years. You may find a better fit somewhere else.
Maybe you’ve been a die-hard Brooks running shoe fan for ages. When you go to the store, the sales associate suggests an Asics pair. It may be worth your while to try them out.
You may even find a better fit with a less expensive brand or in a style, you hadn’t tried before. You may like the way it looks on your foot more than you expected.
Finding the right shoe is about more than fit. It’s also about how you feel when you wear them. Shop around a bit until you find a shoe that ticks all the boxes.
7. Spend as Much as You Can Afford
That being said, sometimes it’s worthwhile to spend a little more on your shoes. If you’re wearing them every day or doing hard, physical activity in them, opt for a higher quality pair.
Sometimes (not always), the more expensive shoes will use better materials. Make sure you’re making an informed decision. Know that a good pair of shoes is an investment in your overall health and well-being.
Step Forward in the Right Shoes
Those are some of our favorite tips on finding the right shoes. Your feet deserve to be taken care of. Remember to get professionally fitted and adjust your sizing as needed.
For more on how your feet impact your health, visit our Health and Lifestyle sections.