If you work on your feet all day or plan to travel and want the best walking shoe, here are 16 top tips for purchasing comfortable shoes:
1. If you have a new job, are planning a trip or have an upcoming weekend warrior type project, try to slowly build up the time you spend on your feet to avoid an over-use injury.
2. Avoid buying shoes early in the day, your feet swell during the day, so the best time to buy a new pair of shoes is at the end of the day to make sure they're not too small.
3. Once you find a comfortable shoe, consider buying more than one pair so you can have a pair as a backup, especially if it's a work shoe that you can't do without. Companies often change styles and you may not be able to find the exact same fit the next time around.
4. If the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it. This may seem like common sense, but don't force your feet into a pair of shoes just to look fashionable. If it's too tight or too loose, you're making unnecessary problems for your feet. Pay attention to your comfort level. Walk around the store in the shoes for ten to fifteen minutes even, not just a few seconds.
5. Make sure your heel is not slipping. Extra friction around a narrow heel because the shoe is too wide is guaranteed to cause you to have to modify the shoe with a heel cushion or avoid wearing the shoe altogether. Whenever possible, aim for a perfect fit. You don't want your foot sliding up and out of the shoe and back down again because you'll end up with a blister or callus.
6. Every pair of shoes that you own should have a wide toe box. Pointy-toe shoes are an injury waiting to happen. If your toes are squished, you're going to pay a price in pain.
7. Our feet are not mirror-images of each other. Be sure to try on both pairs of shoes and if they are athletic shoes, be sure to lace them like you'll be walking or running in them to get the full effect. Sometimes one foot is larger than the other or has a slightly different arch. Don't be in a hurry. Try both shoes on for size.
8. Be aware of the shoe's insole and pay attention to how it's hitting your foot. Is it in the right place or is there zero arch support? It's not recommended that you stand on your feet all day without supporting your four arches. If you plan to wear your own orthotic for extra support, bring it with you and place it in the shoe. Orthotics take up space in the shoe and may cause you to need a larger size. Often you can make room for a shoe insert by removing the lining of the shoe and replacing it with your own orthotic but you may still find that your foot has shifted forward in the shoe. Asking for a larger shoe size in the same style usually will be a simple fix to accommodate the insert.
9. Check for the amount of cushioning provided in the shoe for shock absorption. The shoes should provide some cushioning and some give or flexibility. You may want to pick up some inserts if the shoe itself does not provide enough cushioning.
10. Ask about non-skid or non-slip shoes if you work in an environment where you may fall if the shoes don't provide enough traction. Restaurant workers like chefs and waiters and those in the medical profession should seek non-skid shoes since they are particularly vulnerable to falls.
11. Make sure the quality of the shoe binding is up to par. You don't want anything poking your foot. Even a minor sharp sensation will aggravate your foot over extended wear.
12. Bring your own socks or stockings when shoe shopping as complimentary socks may inadvertently transfer unwanted bacteria or fungus.
13. Stand up in the shoes and have the store employee check to be sure there is about a thumb's width of space between your big toe and the tip of the shoe. Make sure the shoe is fully laced when you do this if it is an athletic shoe and check for the fit of both the left and the right foot.
14. Natural materials like leather give. Synthetic materials do not give. Don't assume your shoes will stretch out with wear. Only leather shoes may accommodate and conform more to your foot over time but it's still best to have enough room. Never squeeze your foot into a shoe to "make it fit" no matter what the sale price. It's not worth the aggravation or risk to your foot health.
15. Even your most comfortable shoes won't fit perfectly forever. Don't overwear shoes to the point that their soles are worn down. Athletic shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles. Check the tread for signs of wear and proactively replace them to prevent unnecessary injury to your foot.
16. Break in shoes at home before you wear them all day. There's nothing worse than discovering your shoes don't fit when you are far from home or can't get off your feet until it's too late. And check the store's return policy before buying. Some retailers consider shoes to be a personal item and all sales are final.
However, while the arches' needs aren't that different, the placement of the arches are different for every person. I could see three people with the same size shoe and custom fit three different orthotics.
The truth is, while many shoe manufacturers try, try as they might, even the best shoes are catered to an average arch and your arch may not be in the average position.
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