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Foot Problems and Shoes: 7 Buying Tips to Prevent Pain

painful shoes

by Susan Louisa Montauk, M.D.

It’s amazing our feet endure as much as they do. Twenty-six bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments— plus skin and soft tissue to protect it all. That’s lot of opportunities to tear, break, crush, shift or infect something. If you add to that the fact that our shoes often don’t even really fit, it’s astounding our feet continue to carry most of us past our 20s!

That’s not to say they carry us without complaining. Fortunately, you can help prevent some foot problems simply by choosing the right shoes.

Unless your foot is shaped very differently than the rest of us, it is not long and pointy. Here are a few shopping tips for those of us with feet one would expect to find on a human:

  1. Go shopping toward the end of the day, when your feet are largest.
  2. Wear or bring the same socks or stockings you’ll wear with the new shoes.
  3. Measure both feet. (They keep getting longer and wider as you age.)
  4. Try both shoes on because your feet may not be exactly the same size. Buy for the larger one.
  5. Make sure your toes have wiggle room.
  6. Keep the heel no higher than 2 inches (better: 1 inch). Over time, higher heels can make you prone to all kinds of foot problems.
  7. Walk around in the shoes, and make sure they’re not too tight. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons warns that there’s no such thing as a break-in period.

If you still have foot problems, check out this article, with symptoms and treatment ideas for many common ailments.

is a board-certified family doctor in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Last updated and/or approved: August 2010.
Original article appeared in spring 2007 former print magazine. Bio current as of that issue. This health-care information is not meant as individual advice. Please see our disclaimer.
Comments (1)add comment
written by Foot problem , November 28, 2011

That's really informative article. I never thought in that way whenever I go buy shoes. I think this help in taking care of our foot to prevent future foot problems.
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