By Anthony Allen, Certified Pedorthist
Two main factors come into play when buying shoes. First, what type of feet do you have (Size, arch type, challenging fit, etc.)? Second, What are you going to use the shoes for?
Shoe size is your first challenge. Most shoe stores have Brannock devices that are used to figure the length and width of each foot. Included in the size are the socks you wear with the shoes. Bring a pair of socks to the shoe store. Most poeple’s feet differ a bit so go with the bigger of the two foot measurements.
Shoe brands also differ with shapes and fits. Try multiple pairs to find a pair that comfort your feet. Shoe brands in the same size may be as different as half a size. Don;t believe the box size!
Shoes are made with different shapes or “lasts” (Definition: The shape of the shoe. A straight last shoe is symmetrical relative to the middle of the toe.). Depending on your foot’s anatomical shape and your arch type, this can be the “Ahh” or the “Ouch” factor in a shoe’s fit. The two main “lasts” shoe companies use are straight or curved. “Straight lasts” are great for flat-rigid, flat-flexible or flat-fleshy feet.
There is no unnecessary support digging into your arch area. “Strait last” are also used for people who need arch supports or custom orthotics. Shoes with a “curved last” hug the arch area. If you have a medium to high arch this might help support your foot better. Your local pedorthist, such as ourselves, can evaluate your feet for a great fit.
Choosing the right shoes depends on the activity you will be using it for. Athletic, casual, therapeutic, are some of the big categories. Running shoes are usually light-weight, offer good cushioning and “breathable.” Again, depending on the brand, some brands have extra support to control your feet against doing the movements that cause your feet to ache and tire after your activities. Price ranges are $40 – $250.
Walking shoes are usually a bit more heavy duty. They consist of leather uppers and stiffer, less cushioned out-soles. Walking shoes are commonly called casual shoes. Walking shoes keep you comfortable for long periods of standing or walking. prices range from $20 – $100. Note: A better built shoe with extra cushioning does cost more.
Therapeutic shoes come in many styles from athletic to dress. In order to achieve comfort, the shoes use better materials or have shapes that accommodate arch supports, orthotics, braces, or feet that are hard to fit. Some therapeutic shoes will have stretchy uppers or the inside lining that touches your foot with light, self-molding material that helps reduce pressure points or areas of friction. They almost always cove your toes and have lace or velcro enclosures. Prices for premade therapeutic shoes may range from $60-$250. Custom therapeutic shoes can start at $300 and go as high as $800 and sometimes higher for serious foot-fitting issues.
Specialty shoes depend on the sport or activity. Some sports such as hiking, tennis, or fitness have shoes that are specific to the sport. these shoes can be found at the same place you buy your sports equipment from. If not, an internet search can find a nearby store for your needs. Or you can always call us and we will gladly point you n the right direction (520)399-1365.
If your sport is extremely specialized, such as dancing, you may need to special order from a local store or on the internet. If you ever get a shoe that is as close to perfect as possible, but still isn’t the best, try a shoe repair store to stretch or adjust your shoes for an even better fit.
These are just some beginning tips for finding a better fit and a better shoe. It is my hope that i have been able to answer some lingering questions about shoe selection and fit.
One last thought: If you have shoes sitting around your closet that you haven’t used in a long time, you may to consider donating them. The Whit Elephant in Green Valley can always use shoes that still have use left in them