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Properly Fitting Shoes Are Important to Health

Buying shoes that fit properly is both a matter of comfort and health. The majority of foot problems such as calluses, bunions, hammer toe, heel spurs, ingrown toenails and corns arise or are aggravated because of ill-fitting shoes. So pain and costly treatments, including surgery, can be prevented or diminished with the right shoe fit.

When people buy tight shoes and expect them to fit after stretching, they are simply creating misery for themselves. They’ll have to replace the shoes or endure discomfort, because shoes don’t stretch in length. Finding the right shoe can be time consuming, but the alternative is not attractive. The American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society has guidelines on shoe fitting, and some of the information below has been adapted from them.

The first thing you should understand about shoes is that each brand and style may fit differently, regardless of the size it states. Most people find that their feet tend to fall within several sizes of shoes. So try more than one size for the right fit. Also, don’t assume that you know your size because feet can change as we age.

Because our feet expand during the day, it’s a mistake to shop early. You could find the shoes are too tight the next afternoon. Shop as late in the day as possible for the best shoe fit.

Shoe shopping should not be a quick affair. Taking the time to try on the shoes for both feet is important, because most people have one foot larger than the other. So you will need to buy the size for the larger foot.

Achieving the right fit relates to foot length, width and arch length. All three measurements can differ between feet. Measuring your foot with a Brannock device can help the sales staff to point you toward the right size. Most shoe stores have these metal devices and you’ve probably seen or used them. Of course, because sizes can vary between brands, this measurement is only a place to start. The proof is in how the shoes feel.

Sitting down won’t give you an accurate fit. You must stand and walk around the store until there’s no doubt about the comfort level. The ball of your foot, the widest area, must fit well into the widest part of the shoe. If it does, then the arch length will be correct. If it doesn’t, the solution is not a longer shoe but a different style or brand that matches your foot width.

If the toe feels too tight or the heel too loose, try a different size. The longest toe requires about a half-inch of space at the tip of the shoe (a bit more for the greater activity of athletic shoes), and the heel should be snug when the laces are tightened reasonably.

Many people need more than a proper fitting shoe. To address such problems as flat feet, high arches or pronation (the foot can lean in or out too much, causing uneven heel wear), orthotics can be made to place in the shoes. These devices can make a world of difference, relieving heel, knee and back pain. See your doctor if you experience chronic pain in the lower part of your body or people tell you walk in a strange way.

Ignoring problems can lead to costly and complicated treatments. It’s far better to wear proper fitting shoes, which could be a simple solution to many problems you might be attributing to other causes.

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