When looking at shoes it is important to remember that your shoes provide your foundation, and we want to ensure that that foundation is supportive of your spine, hips and the entire rest of your body. In order to avoid foot problems like flat feet, foot pain, heel pain, or more severely, plantar fasciitis, here are some things to keep in mind when shoe shopping. These tips can be applied to any type of shoes: walking shoes, comfy shoes, orthopedic shoes, tennis shoes, ankle boots, ballet flats, dress shoes, and sandals. For people who wear shoes for long hours, finding a shoe that provide ultimate comfort is important in order to keep your feet happy and pain free.
What to look for in a shoe
The importance of great arch support is that it helps your foot maintain its natural contours. More shoes these days are doing better at prioritizing arch support without sacrificing style. When our feet are placed on a perfectly flat surface it makes the arch of our foot flatten also, and as our foot is naturally curved, that straightening causes a lot of stress on the foot and cause you to walk imbalanced, affecting your gait and your posture. Good arch support in a shoe will help maintain the natural curve of your foot, if not slightly better it. But too much arch support can cause you to walk more on the outside of your foot than the whole pad of your foot, so look for a shoe that matches your natural curve. Ideally, the most comfortable pair of shoes and the best arch support shoes will feel like they provide great support for your feet for any activity you wish to perform such as going on long walks or even just for everyday wear.
When walking on hard surfaces such a tile or hardwood, every time the foot hits the floor, a small jolt is felt in the foot due to the nature of the surface. To better protect the feet from the wear and tear of hard surfaces, shoes with comfortable cushioning such as memory foam, shock-absorbing insoles, or eva foam help disperse those jolts throughout the shoe and provide a more comfortable walking surface. However, be wary of too much cushioning as walking on an extra cushioning can make an unsteady surface which can affect your balance and cause compensations elsewhere in your body (such as tightening the muscles in your calves, or altering the position of your hips).
Holding the Ankle
Holding the ankle securely without rubbing and causing irritation is very important in comfortable shoes. A shoe that slips up and down the ankle can be frustrating and cause friction, irritation, and in worse cases, blisters. This can be especially noticeable in slip ons. A good shoe should hold the foot comfortably and not rub or irritate. Ultimately, the shoes are ones you find extremely comfortable, usually that have adjustable straps that help the shoe hold your foot shape providing good support for a smooth ride. Slip on sneakers can sometimes be deceptive, in that they are often comfortable but they do not necessarily hold the heel properly and provide that needed extra support. Find the balance between comfy sneakers and well-fitting sneakers.
The most important thing about shoes is that they fit you properly. Your foot should not slide back and forth but should be secure. Your heel should not slip out of the shoe but should be comfortable. The laces or the grip should not be too tight or too lose, and the cushion should feel supportive but comfortable. For people with wider feet, finding shoes that match that shape, with a wide toe box is important. For people who plan on wearing shoes in the warmer weather, finding a shoe that keep your feet cool to avoid sweaty feet is important as sweaty feet can contribute to things like athlete’s foot. The cutest shoes could still end up being the most uncomfortable shoes. So ensuring that you wear only shoes which properly fit you will ensure that you give your body the support it needs.
If none of these things we’ve listed above that are important for shoes are true, the other important thing about shoes is their return policy. It is better to shop around and find the right shoe for your foot than to stay with a shoe that will not support your body. Whether you have wide feet or narrow feet, whether you plan to wear them for a single event or for every day, choose shoes that provide great arch support, hold your feet well, are super comfy, otherwise, keep looking for the perfect pair.
What To Avoid In Shoes
Flat Sole With No Support
Ballet flats or slip-on sandals are not the best type of shoe, but for those who wear them it is important that they have some form of support for the arch. Walking long term on a flat surface without support causes a lot of stress on your feet and holds them in a position that is not their natural posture. This imbalance can have an effect all the way up in your body, effecting how you walk, how you hold your hips, how your spine sits, and more. So finding comfortable flats that utilize natural arch technology is the way to avoid the detriments of unsupportive shoes.
Heels are not supportive on the foot and actually place the foot into an unnatural position and causes the foot to have extreme pressure on the front/ball of your foot. When you do wear heels, shoes with a low heel are always better, wider heels are more supportive, and, just like normal shoes, try to find ones that provide arch support and fit your feet comfortably. Comfortable heels are important any time you plan on wearing them for long periods of time.
Flip Flops With No Grip
Flip-flops are also not the ideal type of shoe, but they are useful for beaches and for summer. If you wear flip flops, make sure that they are not entirely flat, you want a shoe that has a slightly raised edge around the heel to better hold on to your foot. You also want something that allows your toes not to slide forward, be it how the straps hold your foot, or a cushion built into the sole of the shoe. Some flip-flops even come with a contoured footbed. You also want to make sure that the bottom of the shoe is grippy and will not slip under you when it is wet.
Athletic shoes should be replaced relatively often. Running shoes that are used every day should be replaced every three months or so. Certain running shoe brands even list a mileage for their running shoes after which you should replace them. Shoes that are under constant use get compressed over time and will no longer offer adequate support. Replacing your shoes often helps to avoid injuries and pain. Even the most comfortable shoes will reach a point where they no longer provide support. The best shoes are the most supportive shoes.