Proper Shoe Fit

Not all shoes are created equally and the same goes for your feet, which is what makes fitting shoes so difficult. So where should you begin when looking for a great pair of shoes? Start with taking a look at your own feet! Knowing your feet and their shape will allow you to search for the best design for YOU. But that isn’t where you should stop, there are many other tips that you should keep in mind when looking for an appropriately fitting pair of shoes.

Time of day: Feet can expand and swell as much as 8% when you have been standing or walking for long periods of time. Try on shoes when your feet are at their largest, such as the afternoon or the end of your day.

Leave enough space: The “toe box”, or the front part of your shoe, should be large enough for you to wiggle your toes. It also should have 3/8 inch to ½ inch space left in front of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. A square or round toe box will allow more room for your toes to lie flat, while a pointed shoe may force your toes to be crowded. A crowded toe box can aggravate ailments such as bunions and hammer toes.

Bring your own socks: And orthotics if you wear those too! Make sure your shoes fit comfortably while wearing socks and orthotics before you leave the store.

Fit the larger foot: Yes, even you have one foot that is larger than the other, so fit your shoes to that foot. Sizes in shoes vary between brands. You may be a size 8 in one brand or style and a size 7 ½ in another, make sure you go by what feels comfortable.


While making sure your shoes fit there are some things that you shouldn’t expect your shoes to do:

  • Don’t believe your shoes will break in. They should feel comfortable right away. If you’re buying shoes for a certain activity such as running, take a jog around the store to make sure they feel good.
  • Don’t buy shoes that are too tight; expecting them to stretch or forcing them to stretch can cause extreme foot pain.
  • Don’t make your shoes work two jobs. Your walking shoes are stiffer than running shoes, which are flexible and handle strenuous impact. Each one is designed for their job; if you do more than one activity you should have more than one pair of shoes.
  • Don’t under-pay. The saying “you get what you pay for” is almost always true. A $15.00 shoe will not be as good as a $90.00 shoe. However, beware of the celebrity endorsement which can drive up the price of a pair of shoes due to popularity.

Pediatric Shoe Fit

Fitting a child for shoes can pose its own complications and have separate guidelines. Infants need only socks or booties for protection and warmth.  However as they continue to grow and begin to walk, bare feet are encouraged so that the child can learn to touch and feel the ground. This allows them to develop their sense of touch, strengthen the deep muscles in the foot, and develop their arches. Shoes should be worn outside of the house at all times to prevent injuries from occurring.

When purchasing your child’s shoes:

  • Shop at a store that specializes in children’s growing feet.
  • Pay close attention to the width of the shoe, a child may have a wider foot through the arch.
  • Sneakers or low cut shoes help the child to formulate stability and strength of the muscles and ligaments in and around the ankle, allowing your child to develop their balance.
  • Just like adult shoes, children’s shoes should allow enough room in the toe box for the toes to wiggle. The width of a finger will generally give three to six months of growth room.

A child’s age and growth rate will vary.  It is important to check their shoes often to make sure they are still properly fitting. If a shoe becomes challenging to put on or the child constantly wants their shoes off, this may be a sign of ill-fitting shoes.


The average person will walk 108,131 miles in their lifetime. That many miles in improper fitting shoes can lead to pain not only your feet, but your ankles, knees, hips, and back. Continuous pain can cause injuries and could limit your ability to work or enjoy your hobbies. Call Kansas City Foot and Ankle today if you are experiencing any foot or ankle pain that may be caused by inappropriate shoes.