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The importance of correctly fitting shoes

Ready to buy some new shoes for summer? Carry out these five steps first, to ensure your
feet stay healthy and well-protected!

Step 1: Push
Want to see how much support your shoes provide? Push the back ends of your
shoes inwards. If the back end stays firm, the heel counter is robust and will provide significant
support to your feet. If the back end bends inwards, the heel counter is flexible. This
means you either have a light-weight training shoe meant for activities that don’t
require support, or you may need to re-think your footwear purchase!


Step 2: Bend
Want to check your shoe is flexible where it counts? Bend it where your toes will go.
Your foot naturally bends and flexes at your metatarsal joints, located just behind your toes. Having a shoe that bends with your feet is important not only for comfort, but also for facilitating training routines. The more flexible and elastic your shoe is where the metatarsal joints bend, the greater your ability to activate and act on the muscles in your foot.

Step 3: Twist
Want to make sure your foot is supported during physical activities? Ensure the middle
section of your shoe can’t twist.
You should not be able to twist your shoes through the middle, instead it should
remain stable and firm. This is essential for supporting your foot arch, and when
bearing the weight of your body.

Step 4: Tie
Want to make sure your feet are firmly secured in your shoes? Tying laces can help!
If you don’t want to use laces, then buckles or velcro can achieve the same result.
By securing your feet, it helps to keep your toes from jamming into the front end of
your shoes – and it increases support, which can help relieve pain in your feet.

Step 5: The rule of thumb
Want to ensure your shoes fit correctly? Look no further than your thumb!
You should leave about one thumb-width (1.5cm) of space between the tip of your
longest toe and the front end of the shoe you are fitting for. This is because as you move, your foot slides forward. If your toes are touching the front end of your shoes, then they are too small! Remember – your longest toe may not necessarily be your big toe!

Here are some tips to help ensure your shoes fit correctly.

Are you in pain? Pain is the most obvious signal that your shoes are ill-fitting – does
taking your shoes off give you relief? This is your biggest clue!
Is there enough space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe? Look for around 1.5 centimetres of space ideally. Remember, your big toe may not always be your longest toe.
Have you tested a range of surfaces? Check how your shoes move with your feet
when walking on carpet, tiled areas or other surfaces – your heels shouldn’t move
inside your shoes on any surface.
Have you looked at the widest part of the shoe? This should match where the ball of your foot sits, that is, the widest part just before your toes.
Have you had your feet measured by a professional? Ideally have your feet
measured before buying shoes – preferably at the end of the day, as this is when
your feet are at their largest.

What ailments can be caused by incorrectly fitted shoes?

Plantar fasciitis – you may experience a deep ache or shooting pain in the heel if
you have plantar fasciitis.
Bunions – can present as a swelling or deformity of the first joint of the big toe.
Blisters – can be caused by a range of reasons, but a friction blister is usually caused
by tight shoes that create irritation through the foot rubbing against the shoe.
Metatarsalgia – this condition is when the ball of the foot becomes so inflamed
it can be unbearable to stand or walk.
Corns and calluses – can be caused by continuous friction between the foot
and the shoe, which can be avoided by wearing correctly fitted shoes.


Where can you go to get shoes fitted correctly?
A podiatrist is able to assess whether your current shoes fit correctly and make
recommendations if not. When in store, ask to be professionally measured and fitted
before buying any shoes.

Information courtesy of the Australian Podiatry Association

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