Here are some questions and suggestions to consider before you buy a new pair of shoes.
What Are Your Shoes For?
Select the right type of footwear for your intended use. Rarely will one shoe suit multiple needs.
- casual wear
- career wear
- dress wear
- casual walking
- active walking
- orthopedic wear
- geriatric wear
What’s Your Budget?
You deserve properly fitted footwear that supports your feet and makes you look and feel fantastic. At soléa, we truly believe fine footwear promotes a healthy sense of well being and happiness.
As with everything else in life, you get what you pay for. An investment in fine quality, well-tailored, properly fitted footwear will pay healthy dividends for years to come. Good quality leather shoes start at about $200.00 and go up from there.
Please don’t go cheap on your feet!
Four Key Factors When Buying Shoes
1) Choosing the Footwear Store
When purchasing footwear, several factors should be considered. First, select an independent footwear store. When purchasing such a personal item, the odds are that you’re never going to receive personalized attention and professional fitting expertise from a big box retailer, shoe store chain or internet site.
Independent shoe retailers offer the best in customer service. Providing superior customer service is the best way for these retailers to compete against American and Canadian franchises, chain stores, big box retailers and internet web stores.
Select a footwear store that features:
- the best trained staff of fitting professionals who provide superior customer service and who understand the importance of proper support and fit in a shoe
- the best selection of footwear that will address your needs
Inquire as to whether the shoe store has a Canadian Certified Pedorthist, C. Ped. (C) on site. These health professionals, trained to provide biomechanical gait evaluations and custom foot orthotics are foot care experts who, by nature of their training and presence, markedly raise the level of the shoe store’s customer service, thereby helping you select the footwear that’s best for you.
Footwear Manufacturers’ Ethics
Many consumers today are becoming increasingly concerned about labour practices, workplace conditions and environmental practices of off-shore manufacturers. When choosing a footwear retailer, inquire about the countries of origin of their footwear.
Western European footwear manufacturers pay their workers fair wages and benefits and provide safe workplace conditions thereby providing humane living standards for their workers. More stringent environmental laws are enforced in these countries, especially amongst German-based manufacturers than are found off-shore in Asia.
2) Shoe Support
The heel counter is constructed of a rigid material in the back of the shoe that minimizes the foot’s heel motion from side to side. A strong heel counter increases stability and provides better foot support.
To test the heel counter, put your thumb in the middle of it and push inward. If it does not flex, it is a strong heel counter and the shoe offers good support.
How easily does the shoe twist laterally? Good torsional stability prevents the foot from being twisted and helps to reduce muscle fatique from having to overcompensate for instability.
To test for torsional stability, hold the toe of the shoe in one hand and the heel in the other. Twist in opposite directions. A shoe with good torsional stability will be difficult to twist.
Midfoot Bend Test
A good shoe should bend only at the ball of the foot, not in the arch. The ball of the foot is where the foot naturally bends. This is also the widest part of your foot.
For a proper fit, the widest part of your foot, the ball, should align directly with the widest part of your shoe.
To test for midfoot bend, hold the shoe in both hands at opposite ends. Bring your hands together. If the shoe bends easily in the middle, the shoe will not provide good foot stability.
Footbeds that can be removed offer the shoe a distinct advantage. The shoe can be more easily modified to improve fit and function. In addition, an orthotic or off the shelf arch support can be placed inside the shoe.
3) Shoe Fit
Measure Both Feet
Heel to Toe
Heel to Arch
It is important to measure both feet as one foot is usually slightly larger than another and foot size can vary over time. When measuring foot length, measure from heel to your longest toe and also from heel to arch.
Better footwear stores use a Brannock device, to give an estimate of shoe size. This provides the fitting professional with a starting point for fitting and may or may not be the actual shoe size that fits you best. However, it’s a starting point for the fitting process.
If your feet are different sizes, purchase the size that best fits the larger foot. Insoles can help fill the space around the smaller foot.
Match Foot and Shoe Shape
For a shoe to fit properly, the shape of the shoe should match the shape of your foot. The widest part of your foot is at the first metatarsal arch, where bunions often are and your foot width there should match the widest part of the shoe. If these two areas do not align, added stress will be added on your shoe and foot, causing increased wear and possibly injury.
Allow for about ½” to 5/8” of space in front of your longest toe. This allows your feet to stretch comfortably while walking.
When standing in your shoes, see if you can pinch about ¼” of material between your thumb and forefinger at the widest part of the shoe. If not, the shoes are too narrow.
Before the shoe is laced up, you should be able to fit one or two fingers under the laces at their base. If you can’t, the shoe is too shallow. If you can fit more than two fingers under the throat, the shoe is too deep. This will cause friction against your foot, leading to blisters.
Shoes should fit snugly around the heels but should not pinch or irritate. If the heel fit is too tight, you can develop blisters and pain around the heel. If the heel fit is too loose, you’ll lack proper foot support and your heels may slip.
Some people need a modest amount of heel height. To test whether you may need some heel height, see how much dorsiflexion your foot can do. With the ankle as the pivot point, flex your foot upward toward your shin so that your toes point to the ceiling. Can you do this at all?If not, you may require some heel height to help your foot meet the ground.
Make sure the collar around the shoe does not hit the ankle bone. If the collar is too high on your foot, it may rub at the ankle bone, leading to blisters and a painful fit.
4) Shoe Fashion
Heel Height-Functional Femme or Fashionista?
As shoe retailers, we recognize women may want to wear dress footwear with heel heights sometimes higher than what is acceptable, pedorthically speaking.
In life, moderation and compromise are desirable virtues. Today, more and more footwear designers are recognizing and addressing the demand for fashion, function and proper fit and support in women’s dress footwear. Many footwear styles today are now successfully combining and reconciling these sometimes conflicting needs.
Take Care of Your Shoes
Shoe Care Products
Helping to restore leather or suede’s natural lustre and keeping your footwear looking great are what shoe care products are all about. They also add an element of weatherability which helps to resist soiling or staining.
A must have footwear accessory. Shoe trees help your shoes last longer. They retain the shape of the shoe and they remove wrinkles on the uppers. Cedar shoe trees even deodorize your shoes and keep them smelling fresh!
Alternate Your Shoes
Do not wear the same pair of shoes day after day. Your shoes need a break from the daily routine, just like you do. Alternate the wearing of your footwear. This allows your shoes to air out and resume their proper shape.
Alternating your shoes means owning more than one pair of properly fitting shoes that provide good support. Changing your daily footwear not only promotes better foot hygiene, it greatly increases both the comfort and the longevity of your shoes. By doing so, your investment in fine quality footwear will pay dividends in better foot health and comfort.
When To Replace Your Shoes
Think about replacing your shoes when these signs are apparent:
- fit and support are insufficient
- excessive wear of the soles
- the heel counter lacks structure
- no longer a snug fit when laced up
- shoe structure has been compromised by excessive pronation, supination
We hope this guide on How to Buy Shoes has been helpful.
Tips to Remember:
– Select an independent footwear retailer who offers:
- the best trained staff of fitting professionals who provide superior customer service
- staff who understand the importance of proper support and fit in a shoe
- the best selection of footwear that will address your needs
– Don’t go cheap on your feet! Your feet are worth it.
– Buy the best quality footwear you can afford. How much time do you want to spend in physio, being in pain or discomfort or not being able to fully participate in your favourite activities?
– Fine quality footwear offering good support and proper fit can make you look and feel great and will contribute to – your overall happiness and sense of well being.
This guide has been adapted from the Pedorthic Association of Canada’s bulletin, Shoe Shopping Tips