Humans have worn shoes for the last 30,000 years. Although shoe shapes and materials have changed, the basic function of the shoe in protecting the foot remains the same. The challenge of properly fitting the foot into the shoe also remains. Improper fit not only adversely affects the shoes function, but it can also lead to foot pain and foot disorders.
A recent study involving over 1600 medical journal articles on shoe fitting and injury found significant associations between improper shoe fit and foot pain and disorders and impaired quality-of-life. Of the improperly fitted shoes, 98% were too short, 72% were incorrectly fitted for length and width, and 47% of footwear was smaller than the total area of the foot.
There is very little standardization of shoe sizing today. A given foot might wear several different shoes sizes and widths, depending on the shoe brand. Therefore, knowing one’s shoe size is a good place to start when shopping for shoes, but trying on several pairs until proper fit is obtained is essential. The best approach is to purchase shoes from a store where a training associated can measure the feet and assistin selection. Purchasing shoes online can be difficult in obtaining proper fit.
The most important aspect of shoe fit is length. It is recommended that there should be 10-20 mm length between the shoe at the tip of the longest toe, measured when standing. This is approximately the width of the thumb. Regarding width, this should be adequate room on the first metatarsal (behind great toe), and the fifth metatarsal (behind the fifth toe). The back of the heel (the heel counter) should fit snugly and should not move up and down walking.
Wearing properly fitting shoes can go a long way preventing foot pain and disability. Our doctors at Melbourne Podiatry Associates can offer guidance regarding proper shoe fit.