Shoe Shopping 101: Selecting Proper Footwear

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, one in every six Americans has foot problems. Wearing properly-fitting shoes is the first step toward preventing problems of the foot and ankle. The most important factor to remember is to avoid wearing shoes that force your foot to conform to the shape of your shoes.

Listed below are tips to use when selecting footwear.

  • Choose shoes that conform to the natural shape of your foot. Make sure that the ball of your foot fits into the widest part of the shoe. The heel of the shoe should fit snugly without slipping. Avoid pointed shoes that force your toes into an unnatural position.
  • Do not wear shoes with a heel higher than 2 ¼ in. Heels higher than this height put pressure on the ankles and balls of the feet and, over time, cause injuries, such as bunions and calluses.
  • Try on new shoes at the end of the day. Your feet swell after standing or sitting during the day.
  • Try on both shoes when purchasing footwear, since one foot is often larger than the other.
  • Stand and walk around in the shoes before buying them to be sure they are comfortable.
  • Don’t rely on shoe sizes. Instead, always try on shoes, as sizes vary among brands.
  • Have each foot measured regularly, since feet tend to get larger with age.
  • Purchase shoes that are comfortable when you first try them on. Do not expect shoes to stretch or "break-in."

Reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional.

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