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 conforms as nearly as possible to the shape of your forefoot (the front, widest part of your foot).
- Look for roomy footwear that has a wide toe box with more room for your toes and the ball of your foot. You should be able to wiggle your toes in your shoes.
- Make sure your heel fits 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 5 cm (2 in.) 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.
- Consider laced shoes that have a wide, roomy toe box that will give your toes plenty of room to spread out. Athletic shoes are a good choice. High-top laced shoes may give foot and ankle support.
- Consider sandals, soft leather flat shoes, slippers, 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 when your feet are most swollen. Foot size may vary half a size from the morning to the evening or after a day at work. And wear the type of socks that you will most often wear with the shoes to be sure they fit.
- Stand during the fitting process because the foot gets longer when you stand. There should be one finger's width [about 13 mm (0.5 in.)] between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. For the most comfort, the shoe should not be more than 6 mm (0.25 in.) narrower than the width of your foot when you are standing.
- Walk around the shoe store to make sure that the fit feels right in both shoes.
Current as of: March 2, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Gavin W.G. Chalmers DPM - Podiatry and Podiatric Surgery