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Right Shoe For You

It is critical to take time to choose a shoe that meets your needs. Please consider the following in selecting a pair of new shoes. 


When Edward II decided in 1324 that three average-sized barleycorns placed end to end would equal one inch, the English shoe sizing for length was created based on this standard. English sizing starts at zero for four inches; then, with each successive barleycorn (1/3 inch), the size increases by one. After thirteen sizes, the children's sizing stops, and men's sizing begins. Then, there is women's sizing that uses the same standard but starts between one and a half and two sizes smaller than the men's. If this all sounds a bit crazy, it is! You should avoid the idea that your feet are a certain size in a number and fit each shoe independently of a particular size. The foot is sized not by length alone but in width and girth, and matching this factor with the shoe you purchase has just as vital a role as the correct length. Shoe widths are measured at the forepart of the foot at its widest point. Fortunately, more footwear manufacturers are offering width sizing in their models. 

Foot type

Along with your foot size, knowing your foot type will help you select the best shoes for your feet. A method for classifying foot type is by the condition of the medial long arch. Your footprint is the indicator of your foot type. There are three common groups - normal, flat foot, and high arch. A normal foot has a normal-sized arch and leaves an imprint that shows a crescent-shaped gap between the forefoot and heel with a band connecting the lateral side. A flat foot has very little or no arch and leaves an imprint showing contact throughout the sole. A high-arched foot has a rigid arch that leaves no imprint, so the footprint is split into separate rearfoot and forefoot areas. (Note: this is an old method for finding your foot type; observing the foot in motion is proven to be the better method)


Make sure you have appropriate time to try on multiple sizes and styles. You should have at least 30 minutes available to select the right shoe. If you stand on your feet for much of the day it is important to buy shoes later in the day when your feet will be the largest. 


The microclimate around your feet plays a large part in the comfort of a shoe. Heat, perspiration, and friction can create discomfort, blisters, and inflammatory pain. For persons with diabetes, the loss of feeling in the feet, combined with these conditions, can lead to severe trauma. Choosing a sock made with performance fibers can avoid these problems, while cotton socks will aggravate them. Although cotton socks are comfortable initially, they can absorb up to four times their weight in moisture. The combination of wet fabric and heat or friction is the environment that leads to problems. Socks made of materials like Coolmax will move moisture away from the foot and help with thermal regulation. Choosing between a thick padded sock and a thin sock is another consideration. This also can enhance the fit of a shoe. The way a sock is constructed plays a significant role in comfort and function. Today, you'll find non-irritating toe seams, Y-shaped heels, ribbing around the arch, and friction-free double-layered socks. Most people give little thought to the features of the socks they wear. However, buying a quality sock may be the best investment for your feet. 

Old Shoes

Keep track of the shoes that work well for you. And the shoes that don't and end up in the closet. Bring this information with you when you are selecting new shoes. Or better yet, bring the shoes with you so that the sales clerk can distinguish what features give you the best fit and performance. 

Shoe test

Although you should spend time trying on shoes in a store, they may not work well for you. After purchasing shoes, try them on again at home and wear them for several hours. You may want to take them to a track and walk a few laps. Most shoes should be comfortable right away without any points of irritation. If you find they aren't quite right, take them back immediately and describe your problem. A good store will always help you find the right product. 

Buy from experts

Buying from a service-oriented store can make a difference in finding the right footwear. The salesperson should be knowledgeable about feet and the products they offer. Asking many questions is wise, and they should be greeted with competent answers. If you have specific problems or past injuries, this is even more critical. It is best to develop a relationship with the person who sells shoes to know and accommodate your needs. 


These are often overlooked in the purchase of footwear. However, they are important in comfort, shock absorption, and support. Insoles are most likely a very thin foam insert in the shoe's interior. Some insoles are removable, particularly in athletic shoes. Over-the-counter insoles are better than most that come in shoes, which typically wear out within weeks. Although the shoe technology can give you cushioning, stability, and support, sometimes it is not enough. Adding a more stable or cushioned insole can relieve pain, reduce fatigue, and prevent a wide variety of injuries. Insoles may also enhance fit by adding additional volume for narrow feet or increasing volume for wide feet. Sometimes, insoles available at retail are not enough, and orthoses should be fit and made by a doctor.  

The don'ts - Do not allow a marketing campaign to influence you more than pique your interest. Some marketing can provide excellent information, but it does not mean the product will be right for you. Do not let a friend influence you to select a specific shoe. The shoe may be from heaven for their feet; however, it most likely is not the right one for you. Do not buy a "team shoe". Frequently, sports teams purchase the same shoe for everyone. This is not a good decision and should be avoided, particularly if you have foot problems or past injuries. 

Buy quality

All shoes are not created equal, even if aesthetically they appear the same. And although you don't have to purchase top-of-the-line products, spending money to get quality footwear can save you a lot of aggravation later. 


Fit is the most essential aspect of the marriage between your feet and a pair of shoes. Feet are three-dimensional and, therefore, must be fit to length, width, height, and shape. A good fit consists of the following:

  • The footbed of the shoe (midsole/insole) should be comfortable and contour the bottom of your feet. The heel should be cupped, the medial arch should be correctly corresponding to your arch, and the balance should feel natural.

  • The fit of the shoe's upper should cradle your heel, wrap securely through the midfoot, and give wiggle room for your toes.

  • The depth of the shoe should match the height at your instep comfortably.

  • There should be no pressure points from seams, insoles, or upper fabrics that will irritate you later.

  • The shape of the shoe should match the shape of your feet. Some people have straight feet, some slightly curved. Some people need extra depth, and some need a very narrow heel. With 26 bones making up each foot, many variations of shape need to be accommodated.

  • Different foot lengths are common, although usually minor. However, when it is more than half a size, it requires the person to fit the larger foot and potentially use a modification for the smaller foot. In all cases, try on both shoes.

Lacing of the upper offers the opportunity to help fit a shoe more uniquely. Recently, many shoes have added extra eyelets or replaced eyelets with gullies (pull tabs made of fabric). These can secure a shoe on a foot by aligning the upper more closely to an individual foot shape. Also, the use of horizontal lacing can reduce pressure on top of the foot, decreasing the problem of feet going numb. 

It is still not the right shoe for you if all aspects are perfect except the fit. Fit is the most important factor in shoe selection.

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