It is surprising how many people call me to attend to pain in the foot and to treat swellings and lesions which have suddenly appeared. The first question I ask them is “have you bought new shoes”? In many cases, I just say “You have bought some new shoes”! And they respond with an amazed “yes – how did you know”?
When buying shoes you should always have the measurements checked using an appropriate foot measurement gauge. Even foot gauges vary, Women’s gauges are different those for men, gauges for the UK market differ from those for the US market. So it is not sufficient to just to measure your feet at home with a tape measure and then grab a size 6 or size 8 off the shelf because that is your size. Over time your feet change in size so it is important that this is regularly checked. Also most people have one foot larger than the other.
Even during the course of the day your feet will spread so when you get out of bed in the morning your feet are smaller than in the afternoon after a day’s toil. So always buy your new shoes in the afternoon.
Measuring your feet at home is not much better as most foot charts only cater for two measurements, size and width. But this is not the whole story. The length of the foot heel to the ball of the foot is an important measurement to ensure that your arch is correctly supported. The way in which shoes are made gives a slope on the shoe to the base of the toe. In a shoe the difference in height between heel and toe is normally 4mm for a man and 6mm for a woman so given this angle simply measuring your foot by placing it on a piece of paper and marking around it will not give you the correct length required for proper arch support.
The total foot length heel to the end of your toe is no good either as the distance from the ball of your foot to the end of yours toes is needed to ensure that there is sufficient toe room in the toe box of the shoe. Then there is always the correct width measuring over the arch. If you want truly correctly fitting, comfortable shoes, which will cause you no problems, pain or discomfort later, then more measurements have to be taken by someone who understands the whole process of correct foot measurement. Different brands of shoe manufacturers apply different scales to their sizes so an 8 in one brand may be different to an 8 in another. Shoes which are too large will cause instability, blisters and also lead to cracked heels due to lack of support for the heel. Shoes which are too small will cause pinch callus, corns and lesions are cross the top of the arch. A fix for that is to use wide fit shoes.
So, always buy in the afternoon and have your feet properly measured on a regular basis. Always try on both shoes and wear your normal style of hosiery.
If you are buying Shoes to take orthotics ensure there is an adequate toe box and that the shoe is big enough to take the orthotic (for which you should be professionally fitted).. In style, they should have natural uppers such as leather and either leather or moulded rubber sole. They should be high sided top give adequate ankle support and the heel should be 25 – 35 mm. The fastening should be Velcro, laced or a strap and buckle. Slip on, sandals, flats or low profile fashion shoes are not suitable for orthotics.
Steve Jones MBE, SAC Dip FHP(Adv),Dip C Tech, MPS Pract.