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How To Find Shoes that Fit

By

Updated May 28, 2014

Woman tying sneaker, low section, side view
Wesley Hitt/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images
Shoes can either help with foot problems or have the potential to cause foot problems. There are several ways to help get your feet into a properly fitting pair of shoes. Learn more:
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 45 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Have your feet measured 1 to 2 times per year

    Do not rely on a foot measurement taken 10 years ago. More than just your hairstyle has changed. The ligaments and other soft tissues in your feet tend to relax and stretch out as you get older. This causes your feet to change shape and size. Make sure to measure the length, width and arch length of your feet.

  2. Measure the arch length

    An important part of the shoe fit is the arch length. The arch length is measured from your heel to the ball of your foot (where your big toe joint bends). The bend in your big toe should match with where the shoe bends. With both shoes on, rise up onto your toes. If you feel the shoe bend before or after the big toe joint, then the shoe is not a good fit for your arch length.

  3. Shoe shop later in the day

    Most everyone develops some swelling in their feet by the end of the day. If you wait until later in the day to shoe shop, you will be more likely to avoid getting shoes that are too tight.

  4. Fit shoes to the larger foot

    No two feet are the same. One foot is usually slightly larger than the other foot. Buy the shoe size that fits the larger foot. There are different pads and inserts that can take up room in the shoe if it is too big, but you cannot add space to a shoe that is too small.

  5. Wear appropriate socks/hosiery

    It is important to wear the socks, nylons, etc. that you would normally wear with the type of shoes you are trying on. For example, if you are trying on high heels for a wedding, you do not want to wear the socks you wore to the gym to exercise on the elliptical machine. The thickness of the sock will affect the fit of the shoe a great deal.

  6. Stand when measuring

    Be sure to stand up when measuring your feet. When standing, your feet will spread out more. It is better to have someone else take the measurement, because you need to stand tall and look straight ahead with your weight centered over your foot. How you stand can affect the size and shape of your feet.

  7. Leave 1/2 inch at the front of shoe

    There should be about a 1/2 inch between the end of your longest toe and the end of the front of the shoe. Generally this is about the size of the tip of your index finger (small hands) or pinky finger (large hands). Be sure look and see which is your longest toe; it is not always your big toe.

  8. Leave 1/8 inch at the back of shoe

    You do not want the back of the shoe too tight against the back of your heel. This may cause skin irritation and blisters. It is OK to have about a 1/8 of an inch between the back of your heel and the shoe.

  9. Room in the toe box

    The toes need room to move. Not having enough room for your toes may lead to corns, callouses, neuromas or deformed toes. Your toes should have enough room to "perform" a symphony by Mozart. Note: If you could not perform chopsticks with your toes before, just because you have room in your toe box does not mean Mozart is going to happen, but you should have room, just in case.

  10. Walk with both shoes on

    Do not be afraid to take your time and try on both pairs of shoes and walk around the store. Walk on different surfaces (carpet, tile, etc.), if available. Ideally, it would be best to take the shoes to a gym and walk on a treadmill. This will keep the shoes clean and give you a chance to really try the shoes out. Some stores offer this service so do not be afraid to ask.

  11. Size does not matter

    Try not to get too concerned with the shoe size number. There is a big difference in shoe sizes between shoe companies because of the lasts used. A last is a form that a shoe is molded around. Each company uses different lasts, meaning that a size 8 New Balance will not fit the same as a size 8 Nike or a size 9 Manolo Blahnik will not fit the same as a size 9 Jimmy Choo.

Tips:

  1. Fitting shoes to the larger foot has a limit. If your feet are more than 1 1/2 sizes different, then get two different sized shoes.
  2. Shoes should be comfortable in the store. Do not buy shoes with the hopes that some day they will be comfortable enough to wear.
  3. Shoes with laces are easier to adjust and easier to keep on the feet. Shoes without laces cannot adjust for swelling variances and they are harder to keep on the feet, making your feet work harder.
  4. The height of the heel should be no more than 1 1/2 inches. Any higher and this puts significantly more pressure on the forefoot and may lead to foot problems.
  5. If you have foot problems or are unsure about proper shoe fit, it is highly recommended that you go to a shoe store that offers professional, personalized shoe fitting. A thorough shoe fitting/buying may take 45-60 minutes.

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