Choosing a shoe is a process where we evaluate three basic criteria. Those are form, fit and function.
For most of us form becomes a major reason for a shoe choice because, lets face it, nobody wants to wear ugly or un-fashionable shoes. Function is also important in that the shoes should properly support your feet. But unless the shoes fit properly function becomes irrelevant.
As it turns out incorrectly fitted footwear is the leading factor responsible for foot pain. In 7 out of 8 scientific shoe fit studies there was a strong association between incorrectly fitted footwear and foot pain. In addition one can develop a number of foot lesions and calluses due to improper shoe fit. Although an improper fit may contribute to the worsening of foot deformities such as bunions and hammer toes, which could be genetically acquired deformities.
Because all of our feet are different sizes, shoe fit can be challenging. Especially because shoe lasts used by manufacturers are limited. Therefore we are left to choose the best fitting shoe that will do the least damage to our feet. In the above-motioned studies there was a huge percentage of participants with incorrectly fitting shoes. Meaning that many had shoes that were significantly too short or too narrow for their feet. For most people this means suffering from occasional foot pain but for the diabetic population this can lead to foot ulcerations and infections.
So what does one do when shopping for shoes? After determining the best shoes that will function well for you, the best starting point is to have your feet measured with a measuring device such as a Brannock Device. If this service is not offered you’ll probably want to shop elsewhere. What should be measured is both length and width. It is also important to stand while measuring as your foot will both lengthen and widen while bearing weight. It is also recommended that there is about 1/2” of space from the longest toe to the end of the shoe.
So when choosing a shoe one must find a happy balance between forms, fit and function. Your local Podiatrist is well versed in which shoes will meet your form criteria while still meeting the other two.
Happy shoe shopping!