Whatever our fondness or lack of fondness for shoes, there are some facts we should be aware of. Shoes can be good and shoes can be bad.
Shoes, generally speaking, are helpful because they protect, support, and cushion our feet. This is especially important for those of us who have foot deformities such as hammer toes, bunions, tailorette's bunions, high arches, etc., and/or reduced sensation, circulation, less padding on the bottom of our feet, and diabetes.
Shoes can be bad if they do not fit properly. Shoes are a potential cause of skin breakdown.
10 things to do to find friendly shoes
- Shop at a reputable store with trained staff.
- Ensure your shoes fit the widest part of your foot and that they have space at the toe end. Make sure any bunions you have are accommodated.
- Every time you shop for shoes, have your feet measured. Changes in weight and age can affect your shoe size.
- Shop for new shoes at the end of the day, when your feet will be their largest.
- The toe box of the shoe must be higher than where your toes sit. This is especially important for people with claw or hammer toes. If you have a corn or red spot on the top of a toe, the toe box of your current foot wear is not high enough. Also, you should be able to wiggle your toes in your shoes.
- Fit shoes to your largest foot, if one is larger.
- When you try on shoes at the store, use the socks you plan to wear with them.
- If you use orthotics, take them with you and try shoes on with them insitu.
- Walk around the store. You want to make sure the shoes are comfortable. Shoes should not need to be "broken in".
- A leather shoe takes 24 hours to dry out. If you have two pairs and wear them on alternate days, your shoes have time to dry out.
13 more things to do if you have decreased sensation in your feet and if you have diabetes
- Call the shoe store before going to ensure qualified and experienced staff are working.
- Shoes with laces are preferable to slip-ons. Slip-ons are made narrow so that your feet will not slip out. Laced shoes can be made wider by loosening the laces.
- Buy shoes for the beach or pool. It is not safe to go barefoot in the water.
- If you have numbness in your feet, you must be careful that your shoes are not too tight. If you suspect the shoes you are wearing, or considering wearing, are fitting snuggly, try a little trick. Trace the outline of your largest foot on a piece of paper. Then take the insole of your shoe and using a different colour pen, trace it over the tracing of your foot. If any of the insoles tracing is inside the tracing of your foot, you know the shoe is not right for you.
- New shoes should be worn only for 1-2 hours at a time for the first few days. When you take them off, assess your feet for redness or blisters.
- Leather shoes are preferable as they let your feet "breath". A cushioned sole with a soft upper is preferable to a stiff leather sole.
- Avoid shoes with more than one inch heel height. Heels higher than 1" place tremendous pressure on the forefoot, putting your foot at risk.
- Check the inside of the shoe for seams or rough spots that could rub your skin.
- Good fitting and comfortable shoes are priceless if you have diabetes or reduced sensation in your feet. Keep them in good repair and wear them to protect your feet from skin breakdown leading to ulcers and possibly to amputation.