Shoes play an important, and underrated, part in our everyday lives. Shoes serve to protect our feet, maximize athletic performance, and apply the finishing touches to an outfit. The right shoes can even increase confidence and positively affect our mood! Likewise, the wrong shoe can have a negative impact on many aspects of our daily life, most notably by causing pain.
Shoe companies, in an effort to sustain a profit, try to make one pair of shoes as universal as possible. They aim to please the population average by making shoes for people with average activity level, normal foot type, normal skin moisture, and average fashion choices. The downside to universally made shoes is people who fall outside the "normal" limits for one or more of these criteria may have difficulties in a "regular" shoe. There are specific nuances to how particular companies make their shoes, and consulting with your doctor or specialty shoe store employee can help make sure you are in the right shoes.
Here are some general recommendations when shopping for shoes:
- If the shoes don't feel good in the store, they won't feel good later. Shoes have their maximum shock absorption capability when you first purchase them, and it only decreases with time.
- Higher price generally means higher quality, until you reach the $100 price point. Look for shoes that retail between $50-$100. Cheaper shoes are likely to be lower quality, and more expensive shoes are likely to have features that are not necessary for the average customer. Certainly, high end athletic shoes and dress shoes will fall outside of this range, and they may be necessary, and well worth the cost, for individuals with higher performance demands. (Note: Price refers to full retail price, not sale price. Don't shy away from a good shoe sale!)
- Getting a shoe with "Motion Control" or "Extra Support" may be unnecessary, and potentially harmful in people with certain foot types. Stick to a high quality "neutral" shoe, without all the bells & whistles, unless otherwise instructed by an expert.
- Employees at specialty shoe stores, such as Rogue Running, Karavel Shoes, and others have tremendous knowledge of the shoes, when compared to the average worker at the local mall shoe store or sporting goods store. They will be able to lead you towards specific brands and shoe models that will feel better for your unique feet.
- If your feet sweat, avoid occlusive materials such as leather or suede.
- Good News for Women...High heel shoes are not forbidden! As long as you do not have pain in your feet, legs, or back, high heel shoes can be just fine to wear, so long as you rotate between flats and other shoes. Be cautious not to wear high heels too often, as your foot will adjust to the position of the shoe, leading to equinus contracture of the Achilles tendon. High heels can also cause more pain on the ball of your foot and lead to higher risk of ankle injury.
- If the shoes don't look like a foot, they're not good for your feet! Most people do not have "pointy feet", so wearing pointy shoes too frequently will place the toes in an undesired position. This may lead to corns, calluses, bunions, hammertoes, and other painful conditions.