Assessment of footwear is an integral part of our podiatric management of the foot and lower extremity.
Wearing the right footwear can resolve the effects of a number of biomechanical abnormalities, improve joint function, and alleviate friction and pressure to which the foot would otherwise be exposed.
The main function of footwear is to offer protection. We often choose our footwear to complement an outfit or fashion can attract us to a specific type of footwear.
However, footwear is not only a fashion accessory or a means of foot protection. It can facilitate activity, improve mobility, become an effective therapy, reduce morbidity, and improve and extend the quality of life in its various forms.
There are various types of footwear worn depending on the activity for which the shoe is intended.
Podiatrists usually recommend that you wear lace up shoes, the primary reason for this is that the foot is held securely within the shoe, and the shape allows the toes to function properly.
What are the characteristics of a well-fitting shoe?
- Seamless material to prevent skin irritation.
- The material of footwear must be sufficiently rigid to prevent collapse and creasing, which can result in skin damage.
- The heel counter must be sufficiently rigid to prevent collapse and prevent the shoe from slipping off the foot.
- The toe box should have sufficient depth and width to accommodate the toes without putting pressure on them.
- The shoe must be the correct length to prevent impingement of the toes and various nail conditions caused by trauma.
- The width of the shoe must be appropriate. The widest portion of the shoe should match the widest portion of the foot. Typically, this is located between the joint of your great toe and your little toe.
What should be considered to ensure that footwear fits properly?
Inadequate shoe fit may be the cause of foot problems or may exacerbate pre-existing conditions.
Everyone has their own opinion on what makes a comfortable, well-fitting shoe.
Keeping the above in mind
- If possible remove the inlay from the shoe. When standing on the inlay check the overall length of the inlay from the back of the heel to the longest toe. The first toe is not necessarily the longest! Allow approximately 1cm from the end of longest toe to the end of the shoe. This allows the foot to elongate during walking and prevents damage to digits and nails.
- Check the heel to ball length. This is the distance between your heel and the big toe’s bottom pad (ball joint). For a shoe to function correctly, the ball joint of the foot must be aligned with what is known as the flex point of the shoe. Please be aware that feet of similar length can have different proportions.
- Check that the two widest areas of the front of your foot are aligned with the shoe’s widest area.
- Check the ball to toe-length. This is the distance between the toes’ bottom pad area and the end of your toes.
- Verify that the top line of the heel counter fits the foot snugly. The top line must be curved beneath the two bones on either side of the foot (tibia and fibula). This prevents rubbing.
- Lacings should be set apart 10-12 mm.
When you have healthy feet one of the worst things that can be done is putting socks on the feet and squeezing them into tight shoes. This prevents the feet from functioning properly and can cause a gradual decline.
Unless you have been recommended otherwise, spend as much time as possible without shoes and socks to allow you muscles function unhindered with the toes free to move.
If you need help finding the right size/style of footwear for you please get in touch by filling in the form below. Our podiatrists and footwear partners can help and advise you