Choosing the best shoe for you

There are so many choices out there! How do I know it’s the right shoe for me?  Back in the “old days” ( if you’re old enough to remember the old days) you would visit your friendly local shoe store where they would measure your feet, go to the back room, and come out with several pairs of quality shoes to try on. Or in the older old days, they would use a device with an x-ray to measure your feet.  Yikes!  Not a good idea. 

We all know that in today’s world this kind of service is very rare. Now it’s a self-service free-for-all where we dig through the boxes to find something that will work for us. We have also been conditioned by the low prices offered by the chains and marts to the point where paying more than $19.99 for shoes seems unreasonable. 

What makes a “good shoe?”
In the world of shoes, you truly “get what you pay for.”   There are three quick tests you can do to check the quality of a shoe. 

  1. Flexibility.  Hold the shoe by the toe and heel and bend it.  It should slightly flex in the front right where your toes bend. If it bends in the middle, or if you can fold it in half and put it in your pocket, it’s too flexible!

  2. Heel Counter. This is the part of the shoe that helps stabilize the heel.  Squeeze the heel counter from side to side. It should have some give but you shouldn’t be able to pinch it together or flatten it out. If you can, it is too flimsy to support your heel 

  3. Torsional stability.: Hold the shoe by the front and back and twist. It should twist a little but not a lot. You should not be able to twist it like a wash cloth. If you can, it is too flexible and will not provide the needed support for your feet.

Where should I buy my shoes?

First off, we may need to change the way we think about shoes. A good quality shoe that is going to serve you well and get you to your destination is going to cost between $100 and $200 in 2022. That can be a big bite if you are used to flimsy “foot coverings” that cost $10-$20. The best option is to seek out a full service shoe store that have knowledgeable staff who will measure your feet and offer selection to best suit your needs. These places do exist!  

Oh yes, then there’s the internet. A good resource as you have unlimited choices, just not the personal service. Make sure you have free returns as it could take several tries to get it right. 

What size do I wear?

Important Note: Our feet do change in size as we age. Our feet don’t actually grow once we are an adult, but they can flatten and spread as we age. I know, a lot of things spread as we age!   
  1. Many shoes are not shaped like a foot! The front part of the shoe is called the toe box. You want the toe box shape to match your foot shape as closely as possible.  If you trace your foot on a piece of paper and then put a shoe over the top, you may be surprised to find a toe or two hanging off the edge. Of course once you put the shoe on, those little toes have no choice but to smoosh themselves against their neighbor in order to fit in the shoe.  
  2. Have your feet measured. This should be done preferably at the end of the day (as our feet swell during the day), and also with socks on. The feet should also be measured to your longest toe which is not always the big toe. Sometimes it’s the second toe and occasionally the third. Oftentimes we are going off a measurement from 10 years ago that has probably changed. (Many measurements change over the years but we won’t get into that)
  3. Not all shoes fit the same. We have all experienced this. It’s best to measure your feet, try on the shoe, aim for the length of a fingernail between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. 

Why Should I Care?

Your feet (and the shoes that cover them) are your foundation. When foot problems arise, we always start by looking at the shoes. Most of us are on hard surfaces of some type most of the day. We need that extra cushioning and support that a quality shoe can afford. 

Also, just as your car needs well made tires to safely get you to your destination, so do we need proper tires (shoes) to function our best everyday. 

Taking a little extra time and money for a well-fitting quality shoe will help keep you pain free, get you to your destination, and maybe keep you out of the doctor’s office!

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