Patients ask me all the time, “What shoe brand is good?” My usual reply is there are many good brands, but good brands make bad shoes for the sake of mass sales and popular styles. What is a person to do? In this article I will briefly cover what to look for in a shoe and how it can reduce your pain leading to less wear and tear on your body.

First, a “comfortable” shoe can be part of your long-term foot problems. Flat feet or pronation can lead to many pains in the foot and ankle. If you have high arches and supinate too much, a “comfortable shoe” can also bring on foot and ankle pain long term. The main attributes both foot styles are looking for in a shoe is that it bends very little in the middle of the shoe. A supportive shoe is identified by flexing only at the toe area and a stiff heel counter. This provides structure to your feet where they lack it, and control of the heel bone thus keeping the shoe under your foot. Another thing to look at is the heel of the shoe. If the heel of the shoe is too round it can amplify the problems caused by pronation and or supination. Look for heels that do not taper in as they go towards the ground. This will provide good stability and less chance for wear and tear on the tendons of the foot.

The next thing to look at is does the shoe fit properly. Shoes should always be tried on both feet at the same time because most people have different sized feet side to side. The next rule is always stand up to check if you have toe room. A good rule of a thumb is that you should have a finger width beyond your longest toe. My feet are a size and a half larger from when I am sitting to standing.

The final piece in fitting is that the width is correct. This not just from inside the ball of the foot to outside the ball of the foot, it is also from bottom to top. People have different thicknesses of their feet and so do shoes as I am sure you have seen. Purchasing shoes that come in widths is very helpful in solving and preventing foot pain. The toe box height and shape should be purchased to match your foot size and shape.

If you wear orthotics or any devices on your feet they should always be used when trying on your potential, new shoes.

Breaking in new style and size shoes takes time. Start with wearing them two to three hours the first day and determine your comfort with the change. Then increase wear by two to three hours a day thereafter. This will allow your feet to adapt to the new shoes and for you to adapt to the new sensations. Do not worry if the heel releases or slips. As long as blisters do not occur, which they rarely do, you will be just fine.

The last thing I will say is that everyone is different and so their shoes should be also.

Andrew D. Kelly