I get asked this in the clinic almost daily, and the answer is…….it depends.
There are certain aspects of footwear which you should be looking for with a ‘good’ shoe but it is very much dependent on your foot.
What should I be looking for?
When picking the best shoe for you, you have to consider your foot type, what you will be using the shoe for and the shoe itself. Also comfort is key, does it feel good on your foot?
What’s your foot shape? Do you have squarer toes, more rounded, or even a more pointed foot?
Is the big toe your longest or is your second toe longer?
Do you have a wide or a narrow foot?
Has your foot changed in length? Believe it or not our feet will generally get a bit longer and wider as we get older.
Have you got and lumps and bumps? Do you have a bunion or any arthritic changes?
Do you have any other foot issues like a neuroma or previous surgeries to the feet?
What is the shoe for?
Is this a shoe for exercise? Is that just walking? Running? Trail running? Is it sport specific like tennis?
Is it a shoe for a special occasion? How long will you need to wear it, just in the evening or all day?
Is it a day to day shoe? What do you do during the day?
The shoe itself
Is it actually the right size for you? Shoe size can vary dramatically from manufacturer and even in different styles from the same manufacturer.
Is it a slip on, lace up, Velcro?
Is it wide enough in the toe area?
Is the heel cup high enough to keep your foot in it.
What’s it made of? Will it stretch if it's tight in certain areas? Is it breathable?
So what features should I look for when picking a shoe?
The shoes needs to be long enough for your foot. Look for the ‘rule of thumb’, there should be your thumbs width between your LONGEST toe and the end of the shoe.
The shoe needs to be wide enough, ideally you should be able to wiggle your toes and they shouldn’t feel squashed.
The shoe shouldn’t slip at the heel. This could mean they are too long or wide at the heel or they are not secure on the foot.
For a shoe not to slip off it needs to be secure over the mid foot, so laces or a buckle or Velcro strap are preferable.
The heel of the shoe shouldn’t be more than 1 inch high.
The upper of the shoe should be made of a breathable material and the sole should have some cushioning.
Bear in mind that these features are for the ‘ideal’ shoe. Depending on what the shoe is for you may have to compromise on some of these features, and obviously if you are in a barefoot shoe some of these won’t apply.
So in conclusion……. the shoe has to fit your foot well, not slip and be appropriate for the task you want it for. Most importantly comfort is key!