Proper footwear can reduce foot problems
From ancient Egyptian times down through the centuries, footwear has been designed to meet mankind’s real and perceived needs—protection, support, comfort, sturdiness, and stylishness.
Feet endure tremendous pressures of daily living. An average day of walking brings a force equal to several hundred tons on them. They are subject to more injury than any other part of the body, underscoring the need to protect them with proper footwear.
Doctors of podiatric medicine are health care professionals trained for both palliative and surgical care of the foot and ankle. They also are fully qualified to recommend selection of the right pair of shoes, or address other aspects of foot health, for all members of the family.
Women inflict more punishment on their feet in part from improper footwear that can bring about unnecessary foot problems. Some of the problems result from high-heeled shoes (generally defined as pumps with heels of more than two inches). Doctors of podiatric medicine believe such heels are medically unsound and attribute postural and even safety problems to their use.
To relieve the abusive effects of high heels, women can limit the time they wear them, alternating with good quality sneakers or flats for part of the day.
They can also vary heel height. There are comfortable and attractive “walking” pumps (also called “comfort” or “performance” pumps) for work and social activities, that blend fashion considerations and comfort. These pumps offer athletic shoe-derived construction, reinforced heels, and wider toe room.
Activity has a bearing on the considerations; wearing the right shoe for a particular activity is probably as important a factor in the choice of shoes as any.
Perhaps the best shoe for women is a walking shoe with laces (not a slip-on), a polymerized composition sole, and a relatively wider heel with a rigid and padded heel counter, no more than three-quarters of an inch in height.
The best shoes for men are good quality oxford styles, shoes ordinarily associated with wing-tip or cap toe designs. Also suitable are slip-ons, dressy loafers, and low dress boots.
Men as well as women should buy shoes for work, leisure, and special activities, matching the shoe to the activity.
- Have your feet measured while you’re standing.
- always try on both shoes, and walk around the store.
- Always buy for the larger foot; feet are seldom precisely the same size.
- Don’t buy shoes that need a “break-in” period; shoes should be comfortable immediately.
- Don’t rely on the size of your last pair of shoes. Your feet do get larger, and lasts (shoemakers’ sizing molds) also vary.
- Shop for shoes later in the day; feet tend to swell during the day, and it’s best to be fitted while they are in that state.
- Be sure that shoes fit well—front, back, and sides—to distribute weight. It sounds elementary, but be sure the widest part of your foot corresponds to the widest part of the shoe.
- Select a shoe with a leather upper, stiff heel counter, appropriate cushioning, and flexibility at the ball of the foot.
- Buy shoes that don’t pinch your toes, either at the tips, or across the toe box.
- Try on shoes while you’re wearing the same type of socks or stockings you expect to wear with the shoes.
- If you wear prescription orthotics—biomechanical inserts prescribed by a podiatric physician—you should take them along to shoe fittings.