How to choose a good shoe
Have you found yourself spending hours online or in the shops trying to look for that perfect shoe with no luck? You are not alone! I have heard it many times before from many of my patients. They look online, do some research, go into the shops, ask retailers what shoe would be good for them. However, in most occasions, these shoe explorers are given a certain shoe brand or model which doesn’t specifically meet their needs or activities. I have put together this little guide to assist you in figuring out whether the shoe you want is supportive and healthy enough for your feet.
Know your shoe anatomy!
The first, and most important part of choosing the right shoe is familiarising yourself with the shoe anatomy. I have included a diagram which will help you become more familiar with certain parts of a shoe. The most important parts of choosing a good shoe will be discussed below.
When choosing a shoe, it is important that you test that the heel counter is firm. The heel counter strengthens the back part of the shoe, adds additional support for your feet and helps your footwear keep in shape.
You can test if the heel counter is firm enough by directly pressing inwards on the heel counter with your thumb. If it collapses in like the image on the left hand side, it is not supportive enough for your feet.
The toe box is the area in which your toes are housed while wearing a shoe. It is important to ensure that when picking a shoe that there is enough space for your toes to move. The toe box of that shoe should accomodate the natural shape and size of your toes and the front of your foot.
It is too often that I see people wearing pointy or narrow shoes that do not allow the toes to move. The toes end up being squished inside the shoe and over time these type of shoes can cause permanent toe deformities like the image shown on the right, pain, problems walking and other issues like corns and calluses.
The best way to help prevent surgery for toe deformities in the long-term is to choose a shoe with a square/round and wide toe box!
The shank is a supportive structure located in the internal part of the shoe between the insole and the outsole. It is a rigid structure that provides stability to the shoe and ultimately providing your feet with the support they need.
Even though it being a very important aspect of a shoe, not all shoes have a shank. I would have to say that only ‘good’ shoes would have one, which is why it is important to test before you buy.
To test whether your shoe has a shank you will need to hold the shoe with both hands. One hand should be holding onto the heel counter and the other hand at toe box and bend inwards. If the shoe collapses inwards like the image on the top left, it is safe to say that the shoe does not have a shank and is not supportive enough for your feet. The only spot a shoe should bend is at the toe box like the image on the bottom left.
Laces help secure your shoes on your feet. This is so that your feet sit correctly in the shoe and your feet move with the shoe the way it is designed to.
As time goes on, I have realised that more and more people prefer ‘quick and easy’ when it comes to shoes. Slide on footwear has become more and more popular. Slide on shoes do not secure onto your foot or move with your feet. In the long term, this can cause issues such as foot pain, callus, corns and problems walking.
It is understandable that with age, it is more difficult to do-up and undo laces. Velcro straps are also designed to do the same thing, but laces are more desirable if possible.
How to choose the right shoes for my orthotics?
When choosing an appropriate shoe for orthotics, it is still very important to consider all the above information first. There are two other aspects of a shoe you should check before purchasing to ensure they will be appropriate for your orthotics.
- The shoe has a removable innersole – The removal innersole is replaced with your orthotics to ensure the shoe is comfortable and your feet fit appropriately.
- Neutral and has no built in arch or support – as this can cause overcorrection and cause other problems in the long run.
What do I do if I am still having troubles finding the right shoe?
If you have considered all the above, and still are having troubles finding the right shoe for you, the shoes are uncomfortable or you are still experiencing discomfort in your feet, knees or lower back, it might be your body telling you that something is wrong.
If the pain or discomfort you are experiencing is still present after a month, it is safe to say the pain or discomfort will not go away on its own. You would benefit from booking in for an initial biomechanical assessment to find the underlying cause, treat the cause and prevent these issues from occurring again in the future.
Dr. Fatima Al-Kathmi (Principal Podiatrist)
The Foot Force PodiatryBOOK NOW
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