Shoe Fit: Are you Wearing the Right Style for Your Foot Shape?

Do you struggle to buy shoes that fit right? It may be because you need to find the right style for your foot shape. Buying shoes isn’t just in the number sizing– there is a lot more to it!

Many people have specific issues with their feet, and the type of shoe you wear can make all the difference. You need to get to know your feet and know what exactly is going on with them. Is your arch high? Do you have bunions? Are your feet wide? All of these questions and more can help you discover the right shoes for you.

Take the Wet Test

One method to determining the right style for your foot shape is figuring out your arch. You can take what is called the “wet test.” You place your foot in a pail of water, and then place it on a paper bag or other material that the moisture will show well. You stand on the leg for a few seconds, and then lift it. Now, you examine the image.

If half of your foot is filled in, you have a normal arch. This usually means your arch naturally supports your body weight and pronates normally under a lot of weight. Some pronation or “rolling in” the foot is desired and acts as a natural shock absorber. Most runners with a normal arch can wear just about any shoe.

If most or all of the arch of your footprint is filled in, then you have a flat arch. It’s likely your foot collapses inward when you run. This acts as a shock absorber, but the additional rolling of the foot may put strain on your feet and knees. This adds to your risk of injury. Shoes with more stability are recommended for flat or low arches. Internal wedges that build up on the arch side, dual-density midsoles, supportive posts, and wider, and more substantial midsoles are the right shoes for this foot type.

If your footprint shows little or no contact on the outside edge, you have a high arch. You will only see your heel and the ball of foot. Your foot may not roll in a lot when you run, but it doesn’t absorb much shock. A well-cushioned shoe with little or no arch support is recommended.

Bunions and Hammertoes

Seasonal fashions can make foot problems worse. Summer fashions, for instance, can cause a variety of orthopedic pain. Take each of these foot problems for instance.

Bunions are bony, angular bumps that usually form at the joint between the big toe and foot. These can form from wearing the wrong shoe, and wearing the wrong shoe can make them problems worse. At first bunions may not pose too many problems, but by your late 40s to early 50s, they often become achy, stiff and limit your mobility.

The problem with shoes and bunions is that it pokes out and rubs painfully against your shoe, limiting your mobility. The best shoe for bunions are closed-toe styles, with limited room for widening. Shoes made of soft, supple leather with stretch where the bunion is.

You should avoid shoes with gladiator heels. Filmsy-strapped footwear is also terrible because of their height and lack of support. In the summer, if you don’t want a closed-toe shoe, at least opt for something closed with a cushioned toe and a fairly stable heel.

Hammertoes are a deformity in which toes curve under instead of extending straight out, becoming nearly claw-like. This condition is often caused by shoes that are too short or too narrow. Corns (thickened skin on the top, end or sides of the toes) can form as a result of the friction between your skin and toes. Over time, you can develop osteoarthritis.

Summer is especially good for hammertoes. Supportive sandals with straps that don’t rub the area are ideal. When you buy closed-toed shoes, make sure the shoe box is soft and has plenty of room. Avoid anything narrow or ill-fitting that causes pain when the tops of the toes touch the shoe.

Wide Feet and Narrow Feet

Another foot issue is wide feet. This is typically a birth trait, but your feet can broaden with weight gain and pregnancy. Bunions also cause the foot to widen. Feet are considered wide when the first and fifth toe splay out past the normal shape of the foot when a person steps down.

Calluses, or thickened skin on the bottom of your feet, can develop because of friction from a wide foot squeezed into a narrow shoe. It can also cause or make bunions worse.

The best shoe is one with a wide or round shape around the toe, and no more than a two and a half inch heel. Most high heels don’t come in wider sizes, but many other trendy shoes do.

The worst shoes include anything with a pointy toe, or flip flops–because they widen feet. You need a good arch support.

Another genetic trait some people have is narrow feet. If your shoes are excessively roomy, although the length is perfect, you probably have narrow feet. Some people’s heels are narrower than the rest of the foot. This causes excessive movement, blisters and irritation.

Arthritis, stress fractures, sports injuries, ligament strain and heel pain can also result from narrow feet. Unfortunately, most shoes aren’t designed for narrow feet, and they can be the hardest to find a fit for.

The best footwear is anything that has straps, and that’s adjustable, to help keep your foot where it should be. The worst shoes are probably ballet flats, because they gape at the sides. Finding narrower models is your best bet. Using inserts can also help make the shoes fit better.

Find the Right Shoe for Your Situation

Now that you’ve gotten to know your feet a little bit, you can begin your search to find the right shoe for you. Whether your problems is something like bunions, or if you simply have a flat foot, there are many options for you. With just a few guidelines, the right shoe can make your life much more pleasant.

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