Choosing Footwear – The Right Shoe for the Right Job

Choosing Footwear – The Right Shoe for the Right Job

Badly fitting shoes can be very damaging to feet, and many people suffer foot problems because they wear poorly fitting shoes.

A well fitting shoe, worn for most of the time, means that occasional use of fashion footwear, which may not be ideal, should be possible.

So what should you look for in a good shoe?

  • Heel – this should have a broad base and be lower than 4cm. The heel counter (the back of the shoe) should hold the heel so it does not slip at the back when walking.
  • Sole – this should provide cushioning and protection, and enough grip to prevent slipping.
  • Upper – ideally made from natural materials such as leather or breathable fabrics to keep feet comfortable.
  • Linings – again, breathable materials keep the foot fresh; they need to be smooth and seam free.
  • Fastenings – laces or straps with buckles or touch fastenings (Velcro) help to hold the foot securely within the shoe. A shoe cannot fit properly without being held so the foot does not slide forward when walking.
  • Toe Box – this needs to have enough depth to allow the toes to wiggle freely, and prevent rubbing on the top of the toes. There should be about 1cm of space between the longest toe and the end of the shoe.
  • Insole – preferably this should be removable so that orthotics (corrective insoles) can be substituted.

What size do I need?

Many people are wearing the wrong size shoes. Our feet tend to increase in length and width as we get older. Also, shoe sizing can vary up to 2 sizes between brands, This is why it is important to ensure the shoes are fitted correctly, rather than relying on size alone.

In general:

  • Do – ensure the shoe isn’t pressing on the big toe.
  • Do – ensure there is something to hold your foot in place – such as laces or a buckle.
  • Do – ensure there is cushioning in the sole. When you walk the impact of your foot hitting the floor is equivalent to twice your body weight, so the sole needs to be thick enough and made of a suitable material to absorb impact and cushion the foot while walking.
  • Do – wear shoes that are the correct size.
  • Don’t – wear shoes with a completely rigid sole, the shoe should bend across the ball of the foot, not under the arch.
  • Don’t – wear shoes with heels higher than an inch. A very high heel, if worn exclusively, or for long periods of time, can cause shortening of the calf muscle and Achilles tendon, put pressure on the ball of the foot and cause the toes to bunch up. This may lead to corns, callus, bunions etc.
  • Don’t – wear shoes that are pointed at the toes.