Finding Good Footwear

Finding Good Footwear

Topic Overview

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:
July 1, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
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