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Dallas Podiatry Works

Shoe Shopping: Finding the Right Footwear

Some people—both men and women—feel you can never have too many shoes. Others wear holes into their soles before throwing them out, because they dread searching for another pair. Whether you have a shoe rack lining a whole wall in your closet or you find creative excuses to avoid shopping, what you wear does matter. Few other outside forces have as much direct influence over the stability and comfort of your feet and ankles. You need to invest in safe, comfortable footwear to help maintain your lower limb health.

Planning Ahead

Shoe Shopping Guidelines InfographicWhen you decide to go shoe shopping, you need to have a plan. The shoes you buy depend on your unique fit and your needs. Footwear is designed to handle a wide variety of activities, but not every shoe can do all things. You shouldn’t try on dress shoes if you’re looking for hiking gear, or soccer cleats if you need something for a beach vacation. Knowing your purpose ahead of time can help you choose the right foot gear to protect your feet for each activity.

Consider your foot shape and structure when buying shoes. When you search for comfortable footwear, base your choice on the feel and support of the style you’re trying. Though your feet stop growing by your later teen years, they can continue to expand as you age. Also, your feet swell slightly throughout the day, they are at their largest in the late afternoon and early evening. For the best possible fit, you should have your feet re-measured at the shoe store when they are at their largest.

Making the Purchase

At the store, you need to look for appropriate footwear that will support your lower limbs, especially if you use orthotics or have a condition like diabetes. Know your needs. Do you have any preexisting conditions like bunions or arch trouble that need support? You may need to have your lower limbs examined by an expert like Dr. Joel W. Brook or Dr. David R. Northcutt to check for any special needs if you are not sure. You want shoes that fit your actual foot shape, not force your feet to accommodate your shoes.

Make sure you have roughly half an inch between the end of your longest toe and the front of your shoe. The toe box should be wide and deep enough that you are able to wiggle your digits freely. The shoe should not be so narrow that the sides of your feet feel cramped, either. The heel should stay firmly stabilized in the back of the shoe, not slip out or move around. The soles need to have enough grip that you won’t slip as you walk. The sole should also have some cushion to it so the bottom of your foot is protected. Avoid heels that are higher than two inches, or shoes that are so flat that they have no arch support. Footwear made of natural, breathable materials are better than artificial ones as well. As you try them on, make sure you walk around the store to check how they feel while you move. Footwear should be comfortable right away, not require a “breaking in” period.

If you’re going shoe shopping to look for comfortable footwear, don’t be overwhelmed by the variety of choices, or simply assume that all shoes are the same. What you wear does matter for the safety and stability of your lower limbs. If you aren’t sure how to look for the right shoes to fit your needs, or are having trouble fitting your footwear, don’t muddle through with gear that could lead to injuries. Contact Dallas Podiatry Works for an appointment or more information. Fill out the online contact form, or call either of our two offices to reach us: (972) 566-7474 for the Dallas location, or (972) 943-3323 for the Plano office.

Dr. Joel W. Brook
Dr. Joel Brook is a board-certified podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon at Dallas Podiatry Works in TX.