than 43.1 million Americans--one in every six persons--have trouble
with their feet, mostly from improperly-fitting shoes. A huge
public health risk, foot problems cost the U.S. $3.5 billion
We're all susceptible to foot and ankle injuries, but we can
reduce our risk for them by wearing properly-fitting shoes that
conform to the natural shape of our feet. In selecting shoes,
keep this basic principle of good fit in mind: Your feet should
never be forced to conform to the shape of a pair of shoes.
Although style is often a key consideration in choosing a pair
of shoes, the most important quality to look for in shoes-from
a practical standpoint-is durable construction that will protect
your feet and keep them comfortable. Shoes that do not fit can
cause bunions, corns, calluses, hammertoes and other disabling
Recommendations for Footwear
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has developed tips
to help people reduce their risk of foot problems. Use this guide
when you shop for shoes:
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
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
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.