The potential for foot and ankle injuries can be reduced by wearing properly fitting shoes for the natural shape of your feet. Feet should not be forced to conform to the shape of shoes. Ill fitting shoes can contribute to the development of corns, callous, bunions, hammertoes and other crippling foot problems. Shoes that do not fit properly may contribute to pain in your knees, back, ankles or hips.
The support provided by a well constructed shoe is designed to allow your foot to function at its best whilst providing adequate foot protection.
Tips for buying Footwear
- Have both feet measured every time you purchase shoes. Your foot may change shape and size as you get older.
- Try on new shoes towards the end of the day, as feet will often swell and become larger after a day of standing or sitting.
- Make sure you 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.
- Sizes vary among shoe brands and styles. Rely on how a shoe fits not on the marked size.
- When the shoe is on your foot, toes should wriggle freely.
- Shoes should feel firm not tight.
- Most high heeled-shoes have a pointed narrow toe box that can cramp the toes and forces them into an unnatural triangular shape. As heel height increases, the pressure under the ball of the foot may double,leading to short and long term damage to soft tissue, joints and toes. Many adult foot problems stem back to shoes worn as children. Attention to footwear worn during the growing years can minimise the risk of these problems in adults.
Shoes for children
- Young children learning to walk don't really need shoes until they have been walking for a couple of months and then mainly to protect their feet from damage.
- Children should be allowed to go barefoot regularly to help them develop balance, co-ordination and posture. It is easiest to learn to walk and run when children can feel what they touch with their feet
- A child's shoe should be properly fitted, including measurement of each foot for length, width and girth. Foot growth can be rapid and their shoe size should be checked every few months.
- Shoes that are too tight can effect your child's walking and may contribute to problems, such as ingrown toenails, pressure points and possibly even bunions.
- Excessive wearing of the sole, loss of support from the heel counter, or wearing out in the midsole are indicators that shoes should be replaced. It may even be advisable to buy two $50 pairs of shoes than a single $100 pair, so the shoes can be rotated, to avoid rapid wear deterioration.
- To allow for rapid growth, it is important to allow at least one finger's width from the end of the longest toe when buying shoes. Both shoes should be tried on, with socks and tied firmly. It is better to shop for shoes in the afternoon to allow for some slight swelling.
- Young children participating in sport require only an "all purpose" sports shoe for most sports. From ten years on, sport-specific shoes can help improve performance and protect the feet.
- Buckles or laces are better than Velcro or slip on shoes as they are more supportive and allow the shoe to be kept firmly on the foot, even as the shoe stretches and changes shape over time.
- Leather is better than vinyl as the leather has natural give and will move with the foot not restrict it.Shoes should be light and flexible, particularly across the ball of the foot where the foot bends as you walk. Children's shoes should have flat bottoms and sturdy, flexible soles with a patterned grip to prevent slippage.
- Shoes or sandals should have a solid back, a firm heel counter. Sandals need a closed in heel. If you grasp the sides of the back of the shoe, you should not be able to squeeze the sides together or push the back down. This is a firm heel counter.
- Don't choose a shoe by the brand name. Expensive shoes are not always better.
What sort of shoe?
Children should be wearing well fitted and supportive shoes most of the time. Thongs, gumboots and "party shoes" should only be worn for short periods of time.
Second hand shoes
Care should be taken in the use of second hand shoes. They should not be out of shape or have heels worn down. The heel counter should be straight.
Footwear for the Elderly
Good footwear should give foot protection and comfort whilst increasing foot stability.
- Slips, Trips, and Falls. Falls are an especially serious problem for the elderly as they are among the most common contributer to injury and death.
- Physical factors that contribute to falls include: dementia, visual impairment, general frailty, brain-related disabilities, muscle and bone-related disabilities, chronic illness and difficulties with gait and balance. Inappropriate or ill fitting shoes can significantly contribute to an unsteady gait.
- Regular physical activity is one of the best ways to reduce your chance of falling. It increases muscle strength and bone density and improves sense of well being. The use of "Safe Shoes" is very important.
Wear Safe Shoes:
- Wear sturdy shoes with thin, non-slip soles instead of running shoes with thick soles. Avoid Slipping!
- The elderly should wear shoes at all times - especially around the house. Loose slippers and stockings can increase the risk of falling in the home.
- Shoes should be firmly fastened. Lace or Velcro closings are suitable.
- Shoes should be closed in, lightweight and supportive, with plenty of toe room.