Our marvelous feet evolved for flexibility and strength - not to be stuffed into shoes. When people roamed the earth barefoot 4,000 years ago, foot problems were not the rule. Today, we need shoes to protect our feet from cold, injury, disease, and pounding on hard pavement. But too often we choose shoes for style rather than comfort and function.
Remember: good shoes are part of the good care your feet deserve.
The wrong shoes can cause or aggravate foot ailments. The right shoes can often prevent - but cannot correct - problems. So wearing the right shoes is vital to foot health. Follow this checklist when you buy shoes. Be sure they measure up.
- Leather is best because is breathes like skin and molds to your foot. But cheaper canvas is fine for fast-growing children.
- Soles should be strong and flexible with a good gripping surface.
- Insoles should be cushioned to absorb the jolts of walking on hard surfaces.
- Arch supports distribute weight over a wider area. Rigid shanks also give added support.
- High heels are fun and look good, but they should not be worn too long at a stretch or for much walking. Besides cramping the toes, they change body posture, making backaches more likely.
THE RIGHT FIT
- Only you can tell if shoes fit. If they aren't comfortable, don't buy them!
- Don't plan on shoes stretching with wear. If you already own shoes that are too tight, ask your shoe repair shop if they can be stretched.
- Because feet spread with age, have your feet measured every time you buy shoes. Both feet should be measured as they are often different sizes. Always buy shoes for the BIGGEST foot.
- Go shoe shopping late in the afternoon. Feet swell to their largest then.
- Size depends on shoe make and style, too. Don't insist you always wear one size if the next feels better.
- The toe box should be roomy enough so you can wiggle all your toes.
- Your forefoot should NOT be wider than your shoe.
- The heel should fit snugly and the instep should not gape open.
- If you can't find shoes that fit, ask your doctor for advice.
SHOES FOR CHILDREN
Good shoes are especially important to avoid problems in developing feet.
- Because shoes serve only to protect children's feet from injury, none are needed before a child walks.
- High-topped infant shoes do not support ankles - oxfords and tennis shoes are equally good.
- Check OFTEN to be sure shoes aren't too small. Children's feet are so flexible they can be crammmed into shoes two sizes too small - and the child may not complain.
- Don't have children wear hand-me-down shoes. They are permanently molded to the original owner's foot.
Unfortunately, most shoes today are narrower in the front than the foot is. You can check this by standing on paper and tracing around your bare foot. Compare the outline of your foot with the sole of your shoe. If your shoe appears too narrow, you may be inviting foot problems. Choose only shoes that feel comfortable - you are the best judge of that.