(Information below are courtesy of the Pedorthic Association of Canada)
Canadian Certified Pedorthists – C. Ped (C) – recommend you check the following criteria when purchasing footwear:
Comfort – Proper fitting footwear should feel comfortable the moment you try it on. The old adage that a snug-fitting shoe will stretch over time is a dangerous myth, as it can cut off circulation to your foot and cause blisters or other painful wounds.
Toe wiggle room – To allow your feet to function properly, there should be a minimum of 1/4″ of space in the shoe beyond the longest toe of your largest foot. This should be measured while you are standing, as your feet expand while weight-bearing.
Snug Heel – Footwear should fit snugly around your heels but should not dig in.
Laces – Look for shoes that lace up and allow for variable lacing patterns or use specific techniques to improve heel fit. This will ensure the shoe fits snugly and supports the movement of your foot.
Measure both feet – The size of your feet can change throughout your entire life and most people have one foot larger than the other. Plus all shoes are not manufactured the same. This means your foot size may vary from brand to brand and over time. It is imperative to be fitted by a knowledgeable shoe fitter who will measure both of your feet using a device such as the Brannock device.
Match foot and shoe shape – For a shoe to fit properly, the shape of the shoe must match the shape of your foot. If your foot looks wide and square than the shoe should mirror it and feature a wide toe box (top part of shoe). Regardless of foot shape, avoid any shoe with a pointed toe. Shoes should bend where your foot bends which should also match the widest point of your foot. Ignoring this fit criterion may cause discomfort, pain and accelerated shoe wear.
Removable Insole – Buy footwear with removable insoles and replace them when they wear out. While cushioning requirements vary from one foot type to the next, proper cushioning will place less stress on your joints and improve your muscle function. If you wear custom foot orthotics or specific over-the-counter insoles you will usually require a removable insole to accommodate your orthotic.
Heel Counter – Make sure the shoe features a firm heel counter (the hard piece of material located at the back of the shoe that controls side-to-side foot motion) as a strong heel counter increases stability and provides better support for your foot.
Cushioning – Although cushioning is important, too much cushioning forces your foot and leg muscles to work overtime to provide stability.
These are just a few helpful pointers to help you select proper footwear. If you are experiencing foot pain or discomfort, you should consult a Canadian Certified Pedorthist for pedorthic management services including orthopaedic footwear, shoe selection guidance and orthotics.