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What are ‘good shoes’?

Written by Hanseul Baek, Podiatrist with integratedliving

There are so many different sorts of shoes these days but what features should you be looking for to find the perfect pair for you?

We got some great tips from our podiatrists to help you in choosing the right shoes for seniors foot health.

1. General shoe size

Our feet sizes can vary depending on the age, not only while we are growing up, but also when we get older. You may find you need smaller sized shoes as you age, so it is important to always try shoes on before you buy them.

Another thing that you have to be mindful of is that the size of a shoe can vary depending on the brand and style. Knowing your foot size is handy, as it can be the reference point, but trying the shoes on will give you the best indication of fit.

2. Length

This is one of the common basic feature and most people are aware that length fitting is important.

Generally speaking, the foot length is measured from the longest toe to the end of the heel. When wearing shoes you should have some space left from the end of your longest toe to the end of shoes – the space should be about 1-2cms or half the length of the very end of your thumb.

Our feet sizes can vary depending on our age, not only while we are growing up, but also when we get older.

There should be a 1-2cm space from your big toe to the tip of your shoe.

3. Width

Generally speaking, the width of shoes should coincide with the length from across the joint just below your big toe to the joint below your small toe.

Most people will be able to fit into the standard shoe width. However, the standard width doesn’t go along with every style of shoes and some people need a narrower or wider shoe to be comfortable. For example styles like business shoes will often be narrower.

People who have either a narrow or wide forefoot should pay extra attention to the width of shoes and if standard width styles don’t feel right. There are shoes that have different width sizes. Different widths are marked with letters;

A: narrowest

B: narrow

C: standard

D: wide.

Too narrow or too wide shoes can cause many issues including blisters, calluses, corns, bunions even thickening of the nerve tissue in your feet.

Generally, if shoes do not feel tight while you are standing up and walking around, that is indication of good width. It is important to try shoes on to get the right width and make sure you stand and walk around in the shoes. Also when you try a shoe on, look to see that the sides of the shoe is not bulging when you place your foot in. If the shoes bulges that is a sign that the shoes is too narrow for your foot.

4. Depth

It is important to consider the depth of shoes especially if you have ‘boney bumps’ on your feet or if your toes have a tendency to curl under or up. If the shoes are too shallow, they can rub against your feet and toes and cause issues like blisters, corns and calluses (hard skin). In those cases, having extra depth in shoes and/or shoes with flexible material on the upper, can be helpful.

5. Fixation

Shoes that are not secured to your feet well, can make your feet work extra hard, cause discomfort and not provide support.

It is important to have a fixation feature to ensure the shoes are holding on to your foot instead of your feet holding on to the shoes. Slippers or flip flops (thongs) are an example of a shoe where your foot has to hold on to the shoe.

Fixation can include laces, Velcro, zipper, buckles and more. If you have trouble reaching to put your shoes on and take them off or if you find tying laces difficult, make sure you consider the type of fixation on a shoe has when trying them on.

Making sure you have shoes with laces, velcro, zipper or a buckle can ensure your feet are supported correctly.

6. Sole

As a lot of the surfaces we walk on are hard surface, it is useful to have some shock absorption in your shoes.  Feet have their own shock absorbers – these are the fat pads that are on the bottom of your feet. However, as we age, the fat pad density under our feet can reduce which can cause discomfort when walking or standing, particularly on hard surfaces for extended periods of time. 

When trying on shoes, take note the outer sole material and if they have padding inside. It is sometimes possible to put extra padding into shoes that don’t have enough however you should consult your podiatrist or GP before doing so.

7. Heel counter

A heel counter is a small plastic insert used to reinforce the heel cup of the shoe which sits at the back of your heel. A firm heel counter to support and hold a foot in place can help towards getting a good pair of shoes for you.

Even without a heel counter try to select shoes that can hold around the back of the foot and the heel like sandals.

8. Flexibility of the shoe

We need to have flexibility of a shoe across the area of the knuckles of the foot however the rest of the shoes should be quite firm. If you can manipulate shoes freely by hand, it is likely that the shoe will be too flexible when trying to support your full body weight. (See image).

Keep your feet happy with our Podiatry services