A Step in the Right Direction

A Step in the Right Direction

One of the most common causes of foot problems are improperly fitted shoes. When choosing shoes, consider the following to keep your feet happy and healthy:

Consider the activity
Basketball shoes are different than ballet shoes for a reason. Sports-specific shoes help protect against injury by providing appropriate support. Basketball shoes, for example, provide extra ankle support because of the side-to-side movements that are typical in the sport.

Get fitted
Look for shoes that fit your feet and do not get hung up on sizes. Shoes should fit comfortably on the first try and should be roomy enough so you can wiggle all of your toes. A person’s two feet are not usually the same size, so shoes should be based on the larger foot’s size.

Check for support
The best fitting shoes support your foot, both front and back. Backless shoes actually alter the way you walk and can cause foot injuries and discomfort. Look for shoes that are stiff in the middle, but bend at the ball of the foot. High heels are fine for special occasions. Also consider platform or wedge heels instead of stilettos.

Watch for signs of wear
Check the tread and midsole, the cushiony part just before the sole. If the shoe displays signs of uneven wear, it is time to look for a new pair. Athletic shoes should be replaced yearly. Running shoes should be replaced about every 300 to 400 miles.

Consider shoe inserts
Shoe inserts are non-prescription foot supports designed to be worn inside a shoe. They can be helpful for a variety of foot ailments, including flat arches as well as foot and leg pain. They can provide cushion, comfort, and arch support, but do not correct structural foot problems or cure long-standing foot issues. Common types of shoe inserts include arch supports, insoles, heel liners, and foot cushions.

Sometimes, specialized shoes and custom-molded inserts — such as those worn by diabetics — are prescribed by a physician to avoid foot injuries.