There’s a lot more to picking the proper shoe than just getting the right size. Yes, size matters, but so do a slew of other considerations. The average shoe buyer is unaware of this truth, which is one of the reasons why many individuals suffer from achy feet (and backs, hips, and knees) while wearing the correct shoe size.
Shoes influence foot health and comfort in a variety of ways, including the form of your foot, arch structure, gait patterns, and more. In this piece, we’ll go over all of the things you should think about while choosing shoes, factors that most people overlook.
Foot Length Is Just a Beginning When It Comes to Shoe Fit
Let’s start with the most obvious factor: shoe size (or, in this case, foot length). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that wearing the incorrect shoe size is a formula for disaster. You can trip if you wear shoes that are too loose. Your toes may blister and scream in pain if you wear shoes that are excessively tight. Choosing shoes that are the right size is a smart place to start.
But don’t make the common blunder of equating shoe size with foot size, as many consumers do (length). They are not interchangeable terms. Your foot expands somewhat over the day, which is why a perfectly fitting pair of shoes can feel tight later in the day. Your foot, however, remains nearly the same size.
Shoes do not change shape, but depending on the make and type of the shoe, shoes labeled as the same size may fit you differently. For instance, a men’s classic cut from Adidas in size 10 may fit differently than a men’s boot from Timberland in the same size, and vice versa. As a result, don’t assume that your ideal number size applies to all shoes when choosing a shoe size. Treat each pair of shoes as though it were a different size, and try them on before buying.
Shoe Fitting Considers Foot Width and Shape
The second point we’ll discuss is foot width and shape, which are typically overlooked in favor of foot length. In truth, shoe/foot size is largely determined by width and shape.
As an example, some of us have narrow feet, wide feet, and “normal” feet, just as other people have short, medium, long, or very long feet.
When shopping for orthotics, width is especially crucial in shoe fitting because broader and narrower feet have different issues. Squeezing broad feet into tight shoes is not only inconvenient, but it also causes bunions to form. Narrow feet will feel loose in larger shoes, and the extra room will result in a less snug fit and less stability.
Fortunately, identifying the right shoe fit for your foot width is straightforward. Measure both of your feet (as one is likely to be larger than the other) and choose shoes that are close in width. So, if you have wide feet, look for shoes with a wider construction. If you have narrow feet, look for shoes that fit them.
Of course, it doesn’t have to end there. Two shoes of the same width (i.e. narrow) can fit your feet fairly differently, especially if they are from different brands, just as they can with foot length. Trying them on is the ultimate litmus test. Just remember to keep the following in mind:
Fit/measure your larger foot first; changes can always be made to fit the smaller one in later.
The broadest part of your foot should be able to fit comfortably inside the widest part of your shoe.
Your heels should be snug and comfy in the shoe (for as little slippage as possible)
Allow for little extra room in the shoe, ideally 38″ to 12″ between your longest toe and the shoe itself.
Always consider the width and general shape of your foot when determining how shoes should fit – not just the length.
When shopping for shoes, keep an eye out for heel counters.
Many shoes’ Achilles Heel is that they provide very little…well, excuse the pun…heel support. You can ignore this factor if you’re only looking for fashionable, colorful shoes that look excellent on Instagram. However, if you’re serious about keeping your feet healthy, you’ll want to invest in shoes with a robust heel counter.
When you walk or run, the heel counter is the firm element in the back of your shoe that controls and stabilizes heel motion laterally (side-to-side). The stronger the heel counter, the better, because it gives the heel and the entire foot additional support.
You can assess the power of a heel counter by resting the shoe in your palm and pushing the back of the shoe with your thumb in the mid-portion of the heel counter. That shoe, in particular, has a strong heel counter if it doesn’t bend much (which is ideal). The inverse is also true.
Torsion Stability: A New Approach to Shoe Fit
The torsional stability of a shoe refers to how easily it turns. Shoes that are orthotic-friendly should have some flexibility, but not too much. The appropriate amount of flexibility allows the foot to bend and move naturally, but it also has enough rigidity to keep it from twisting or turning excessively (as this could lead to injury).
A balanced degree of torsional stability also aids in reducing foot muscular fatigue. This one is easy to test: hold opposite ends of the shoe and twist them in opposite directions. It’s never a good idea to do too much or too little. It should twist slightly, but turning the shoe should be tough in general.
The amount a shoe bends is closely connected to how much it twists. Again, excessive bending could indicate a problem with a shoe’s stability. It should never bend in the middle. It should only bend near the front, where your foot’s ball rests, as this is where feet naturally bend.
The midfoot bend test might help you figure out if your shoe is a good fit in this area. Simply put your hands together and hold both ends of the shoe (front and back) as if you’re trying to fold it. Congratulations if it doesn’t bend; your shoe will provide lots of stability and support. Too much bending, on the other hand, indicates a lack of stability, and you’d be better off placing the shoe back on the rack!
When shopping for orthotics, a deep and wide toe box is important.
This one may seem counterintuitive to some of the previous suggestions, especially for those of you with narrow or regular-width feet. But bear with us.
Having a wide toe box is not the same as having a wide shoe (although this is common). Toe boxes in wider shoes can still be tiny and shallow. A toe box is the portion of a shoe that surrounds the toes, to refresh your recollection. A bigger toe box, in general, is beneficial to ALL of us since it provides extra room for toes and minimizes squeezing and pressure (which can lead to injury).
A deep and broad toe box, on the other hand, is favorable since it makes it easier to insert custom manufactured orthotics than shoes with narrow/shallow toe boxes. If you require or believe you might need orthotics insoles, look for shoes with extra breadth and depth in the toe box.
Shoe Fitting is also influenced by your daily routine.
Remember that, to some part, your own hobbies and daily schedule will define the style of shoes you should wear. Let’s start with the most obvious ones.
If you’re a runner, you’ll want to invest in running shoes that lessen impact and absorb shock while allowing you to get the most out of your stride. If you participate in another sport, you’ll need to wear sport-specific shoes (cleats, spikes, or cross-trainers), preferably ones that fit your foot shape and allow for custom orthotics (if necessary).
If you’re on your feet all day, for example, working in an industry that requires a lot of standing, you’ll need shoes with a little more toe room. However, for such folks, a plush midsole for comfort and cushioning is essential.
If you have diabetes, you’ll need shoes that are well-lined and have enough of room for your toes so they don’t get squashed. These two features are important because they can prevent scrapes on toes, which can lead to slow-healing sores and infected diabetic ulcers.
As you can see from the three examples above, your activities and present state of health play a significant influence in determining the best shoe for you.
There’s More to Shoe Fitting Than Meets the Eye
Whether you have foot problems, compete in running, or simply want to protect your valuable feet, the right shoe fit is critical. You may have spent years fretting over shoe size when, in fact, shoe size is only one facet of shoe fitting.
However, taking into account the other characteristics listed above will assist you in selecting the finest shoe for your feet. And, in the long run, this can keep foot problems, discomfort, and wear-and-tear from striking you too soon, if at all. It’s possible that you’ll find it easier to participate in your favorite sports and hobbies.
However, proper shoe fitting does not have to be a bother. You may learn everything you need to know about your foot using our foam/digital casting to select the proper footwear and orthotics for you!