Finding the right footwear

What should you look for?

Heel – this should have a broad base, and should be no greater than 4cm (11/2”)

Heel Counter – this reinforces the heel cup and stabilises the foot upon ground contact

Sole – should provide cushioning and protection for comfortable walking, and enough grip to prevent slipping

Upper – ideally made from natural materials such as leather or breathable fabrics to keep feet comfortable

Linings – breathable materials such as leather or fabric keep the foot fresh; they need to be smooth and seam-free

Fastenings – laces or straps with buckles or touch fastenings help to hold the foot securely within the shoe

Toe Box – sufficient depth to prevent rubbing and allow toes to wiggle/ move.

Insole – preferably removable to allow easy insertion of padding or orthoses


Shoe fitting tips

  • Have both feet measured every time you purchase shoes. Your foot size increases as you get older.

  • Women should not wear a shoe with a heel higher than 2 1/4 inches.

  • Try on new shoes at the end of the day. Your feet normally swell and become larger after standing or sitting during the day.

  • Shoes should be fitted carefully to your heel as well as your toes.

  • Try on both shoes.

  • There should be 1/2-inch space from the end of your longest toe to the end of the shoe.

  • Fit new shoes to your largest foot. Most people have one foot larger than the other.

  • Walk around in the shoes to make sure they fit well and feel comfortable.

  • Sizes vary among shoe brands and styles. Judge a shoe by how it fits on your foot not by the marked size.

  • When the shoe is on your foot, you should be able to freely wiggle all of your toes.

  • If the shoes feel too tight, don’t buy them. There is no such thing as a “break-in period.”

  • Most high heeled-shoes have a pointed narrow toe box that crowds the toes and forces them into an unnatural triangular shape. As heel height increases, the pressure under the ball of the foot may double, placing greater pressure on the forefoot as it is forced into the pointed toe box.

  • If you use any form of insert (insole or orthotic) inside your footwear these must be placed before you try on a new pair of shoes.


Shoe’s, styles and situations

High Heels

Ask any woman…high heels are an essential part of the wardrobe – they make your legs look longer and your bottom smaller. But they can cause problems ranging from blisters, corns and calluses to serious foot, knee and back pain. Fear not, following the four “Gs” will help you to enjoy wearing high heels without damaging your feet. Enjoy your high heels, but only wear them for short periods of time, and only occasionally.

Glamour – Let high heels give you that extra “sparkle” and save wearing them only for glamorous, special occasions. Limit wearing them to around three to eight hours.

Glide – Don’t look like you’re rushing to catch a bus – slow down and take smaller steps. Put your heel down first and glide! Not only will this minimise damage to your feet, it will give you that sexy high-heel wiggle!

Guide – According to leading podiatrists, 90% of patients wear shoes that are too small.

Give – Give your feet some extra-special attention after wearing high heels – enjoy a relaxing foot bath and a moisturising massage when you get home.



Many people now wear corrective insoles or orthoses within their shoes. These may be simple pads or insoles that protect a tender joint or a sophisticated orthosis that corrects the way the foot functions. In order for this treatment to succeed, the correct types of shoes must be worn. It is important to discuss shoes if you are thinking about using orthoses, as not every type of shoe is suitable. Podiatrists recommend that shoes should have:

  • Depth at the toe and the heel
  • Adjustable fastening
  • No more than 4cm (11/2”) heel height
  • Removable insole to allow easy accommodation of the orthoses


Slip-on shoes or fashion shoes are generally less suitable to use with orthoses. As these shoes tend to have a shallow fitting, there may be problems fitting the device and the foot into the shoe at the same time. For advice on orthoses please contact your local Podiatrist.


Out Walking

Feet are adaptable and can withstand a lot of pressure before they rebel. If you walk a lot, it’s important to choose footwear that won’t damage your feet. They should have lace-up fastenings to keep the feet firmly in place (the “seat belt” effect), which will help to prevent blisters and keep the toes from slipping forwards. This is especially important when you are walking downhill. Leather uppers mould well to the shape of your foot, are hard wearing and allow your feet to “breathe” without becoming too sweaty. The lining of the shoe should be smooth, with no round and obtrusive stitching inside. The sole should be tough and long lasting to offer both protection and grip.


Shoes for Sporting Activities

Getting the right shoe really cuts down on the likelihood of suffering a sports related injury.

Make sure that you buy a shoe that is designed for the activity you are doing:

Running shoes – are designed for just that – running! They are very flexible, which enables the foot to bend and flex through each step. It’s best not to use these for sports such as tennis, basketball or aerobics, which involve sideways stepping; instead use one of the following.

Cross trainers – are much stiffer and provide greater support for the foot when side-to-side movements are made, allowing them to be used across a range of activities.

Sports shoes – designed for tennis, basketball, etc. and give a combination of flexibility and sideways support.

Fitness shoes – are designed for aerobics, etc. They combine flexibility with support and incorporate cushioning to lessen the effect of shock generated during high-impact work



Many people wear slippers at home because they are easy to put on, and are soft and comfortable. However, well-worn slippers may not give much support to the foot, and the soles may have little cushioning. They may also lead to trips and falls around the house. When buying slippers, look for ones that have a cushioned sole, and ideally a fastening to hold them securely on the foot. Alternatively, try wearing a comfortable, well-fitting shoe reserved for indoor use instead.



In a normal working day, the working foot can easily travel several miles, and just standing still can also put a lot of strain on your feet. If you are on your feet a lot, you should wear well-fitting, comfortable shoes with cushioning and flexible soles. If you work in heavy industry, wear sensible safety shoes from professional makes that bear standard symbols. If you work in wet conditions, you must wear waterproof footwear and socks which are thick enough to keep your feet warm, but not too tight that they affect your circulation.