Do Your Shoes Fit?

Admittedly, this is an odd topic for Deep-Fried Friday. However, I have narrow feet and struggle to find shoes that fit. I have wondered how the narrow shoe market has nearly disappeared from stores, which for me means that I purchase the majority of my shoes online. Being a people watcher by nature, I began noticing feet of others around me. And what did I discover? Many of you are wearing the wrong size shoe.

Your toes hang over the edge. Your feet are nearly swallowed by the width of your shoe. The arch of your feet is not aligned with the shoe’s arch. And on and on. At least that’s what I’ve seen.

Too Big
Too Small.

However, I am not expert, so let’s consult someone who is. Jenny Sanders, a podiatrist in San Francisco, started her Dr. Shoe blog because “At some point early in my career, I started to realize that many of the foot problems I encountered were directly related to improperly fitting or excessively worn shoes.” Dr. Sanders says that 95% of patients presenting with foot problems “have not had their feet measured within the past 3 years and/or are wearing the wrong size.”

In this case, size matters. Poor-fitting shoes can cause foot pain and fatigue. Moreover, “Improperly-fitting shoes can cause bunions, corns, calluses, and other foot problems that can lead to bigger ailments down the road” (Healing Feet blog). Far more disconcerting is a 2007 study of diabetic patients which showed that 63 percent were wearing the wrong size shoes, “putting them at higher risk of developing foot ulcers, which can lead to amputations” (ABC News). It’s a reasonable presumption is that the larger population has a similar percentage of ill-fitted shoe issues, and there are consequences for wearing the wrong size shoe.

So how do you know if your shoes are a good fit for your feet? Here are a few tips, gleaned from the experts.

Don’t get stuck on a particular size. Manufacturers all use different molds, meaning that the sizes are not exactly standard. You may wear an 7 1/2 in one brand and an 8 in another. Moreoever, certain shoe materials stretch more, so that the shoe may not fit as well after a couple of years of wear.

Get sized. I remember as a child sticking my foot in that cold metal device at the Thom McAn shoe store while the sales associate checked my size. It’s been years since I’ve done that. However, our feet can change size even as adults. The contraption is called a Brannock Device, and it measures not only length by arch and width as well. All three measurements are needed to guarantee a good fit. Dr. Sanders gives a primer on making sure you get your shoe size correct by paying attention to both the heel-to-toe and heel-to-ball measurements of your feet. You’ll need to go with whichever one is longer. And don’t forget width. Believe me, if you have narrow feet, a narrow shoe will feel much better than a regular width.

Try ’em on the right way. You need to try on shoes to see if they fit. But make sure you do it right:

  • Shop toward the end of the day when your feet have swelled a bit from use.
  • If applicable, wear the right thickness of socks/tights/hose when you try them on.
  • Try on both shoes, since our feet are not exactly the same size and you need to make sure they feel okay for both your left and your right foot.
  • Stand up and walk around in the shoes. Take your time and see how they feel. Are they not only pretty in that little mirror on the floor, but do they feel reasonably comfortable on your feeet?
  • Check the alignment of your arch with the arch of the shoe. The length may be okay, but if your arch is in a different place, the shoes will not be comfortable long-term.

Once your know your size, don’t be persuaded otherwise. I have a narrow foot, period. You would be surprised, though, how many times I walk into a store and ask for a narrow shoe only to have a salesperson attempt to convince me that I can pull off a regular width. I’ve also had suggestions that I go down a half-size with that regular width to somehow make up for it. It doesn’t work that way!

I also admit to being tempted to buy a wrong-sized shoe that is awesome! I slip on a strappy heel that is 60% off and looks like it came off the set of Sex in the City. I want it . . . so bad. But it is not exactly my size. What to do? *sigh* Walk away. I know from experience that a beautiful shoe with a limp is not the look I’m going for.

If you want more tips, the podiatrists at Healing Feet blog do a good job of breaking it down. Take care of your feet and get a shoe that fits. Then you’ll feel like this:

So what do you think? Do your shoes fit? Have you been sized in the last three years? Do you have a hard time finding shoes that fit?