Finding Good Footwear
The following tips on good footwear may prevent toe, foot, or ankle problems or injuries.
- Have your feet measured regularly.
The size of your feet may change as you grow older.
- Have both feet measured.
Often one foot is larger than the other. The shoes should be fitted to the larger foot.
- Don't choose shoes based on the size marked inside.
Sizes vary among shoe brands and styles. Pick shoes by how they fit your feet.
- Choose a shoe that fits the shape of your foot.
Look for a shoe that conforms as nearly as possible to the shape of your forefoot (the front, widest part of your foot).
- Look for roomy footwear with a wide toe box.
Consider laced shoes that have enough room for your toes to wiggle. Athletic shoes are a good choice. High-top laced shoes may give foot and ankle support.
- Make sure the heel fits.
Your heel should fit comfortably in the shoe with a minimum amount of slipping (pistoning).
- Avoid high-heeled, narrow, and pointed-toe shoes if you can.
High-heeled shoes increase pressure on the front of the foot. If you cannot avoid wearing pumps or high-heeled shoes, look for a pair that gives your toes more room.
- Choose shoes with heels that are no more than 2 in. (5 cm) high.
- Alternate these shoes with flat, roomy shoes to give your toes a chance to move freely.
- Look for shoes made of materials that "give" or stretch.
They will be the most comfortable for your toes and feet.
- Look for shoes that do not have seams.
This will prevent rubbing or irritation of the skin.
- Find comfortable shoes for home.
Consider sandals, soft leather flat shoes, or inexpensive cloth shoes for at-home wear. If you have an enlarged toe joint, cut a hole in the cloth shoes.
- Plan to buy your shoes at the end of the day.
Your foot is more swollen at the end of the day. Foot size may vary half a size from the morning to the evening or after a day at work.
- Stand during the fitting process.
Your foot is longer when you stand up. There should be one finger's width [about 0.5 in. (13 mm)] between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. For the most comfort, the shoe should not be more than 0.25 in. (6 mm) narrower than the width of your foot when you are standing.
- Walk around the store.
Make sure that the fit feels right in both shoes.
If you have foot problems or you are at a high risk of falling, ask your doctor what else to think about when you choose a shoe.
Current as of: July 18, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board: All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.