You walk on your feet every day and they support the weight of your body. Repeated stress on your feet can cause damage over time, but the right shoes can help protect your feet. The wrong shoes can cause more foot problems.

A good shoe has features that provide comfort and support. It must also be the right size and shape for your feet. Look for a shoe made of breathable fabric and lining, such as leather or canvas. Be sure that shoes have enough tread to prevent slipping. An ideal shoe has the following features:

  • Laces for support. If tying laces is a problem for you, try shoes with Velcro fasteners or buckles.
  • A front of the shoe (toe box) with ½ inch space in front of your toes.
  • An arch shape that supports your foot.
  • No more than 1½ inches of heel.
  • A stiff, snug back of the shoe to keep your foot from sliding around.
  • A smooth lining with no rough seams.

Finding the right shoes

  • Select the shoes that feel good and wear them around the house. Be sure the shoes don’t rub or pinch. If the shoes feel good, you’ve found your fit! If they don’t fit well, return them.
  • Shop late in the day, when your feet may be slightly larger.
  • Each time you buy shoes, have both your feet measured while you are standing. Foot size changes as you age and with hormonal changes.
  • Pick shoes to suit their purpose. High heels are okay for an occasional night on the town. But for everyday wear, choose a more sensible shoe.
  • Try on shoes while wearing any orthotic inserts specially made for your feet.
  • Try on both the right and left shoes. If your feet are different sizes, pick a pair that fits the larger foot.
  • Always wear socks with shoes. Socks help absorb sweat and reduce friction and blistering. Choose soft, padded socks with seams that don’t irritate your feet.


  • Don’t buy shoes based on shoe size alone. Always try on shoes, as sizes differ from brand to brand and within brands.
  • Don’t expect shoes to “break in.” If they don’t fit at the store, don’t buy them.
  • Don’t buy a shoe that doesn’t match your foot shape.

If You Have Foot Problems

Some foot problems cause deformities – bunions and hammertoes are common conditions that can make it more difficult to find a good fit. Look for shoes made of soft leather to stretch over the deformity. If you have bunions, buy shoes with a wider toe box. To fit hammertoes, look for shoes with a tall toe box. If you have arch problems, you may need custom inserts, known as  orthotics, to support the arch of your foot and give a comfortable fit. Your doctor can advise you on what is needed to keep your feet feeling and functioning well.

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