7 secrets to a comfy shoe fit

Do you remember getting your feet measured at the shoe store when you were a child? You’d pull off your shoes and nestle your bare foot in a cold metal foot-shaped contraption, and a salesperson or your mom or dad would adjust a slider to figure out what size shoe you needed for your ever-growing feet.

As an adult, your feet have probably stopped growing. You think, “Hey, I’m a size 8” or whatever and you’re done with shoe-sizing forever, right? Wrong! Shoe size can vary from brand to brand and style to style, and your feet may shift slightly in size depending on the time of day or the state of your health. Your right foot and left foot may even be different sizes!

Wearing poorly fitted shoes can lead to foot problems, including corns and calluses, bunions, and hammertoes. You can avoid the aches and pains by finding shoes that fit:

  • Shoe shop near closing time. You’ll want to find shoes that fit comfortably from morning till night. Visit shoe stores toward the end of the day, since a day’s worth of walking can cause your feet to swell.
  • Go beyond the size on the box. Request that a salesperson measure the length and width of both of your feet. Do this while standing up, as your feet can spread when you bear your body’s weight.
  • If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it! No amount of squeezing, pushing, and wishful thinking will make an ill-fitted shoe fit you better. A shoe will not magically stretch to fit you.
  • Try the old soft shoe. A shoe with a softer sole will absorb more shock. Also, shoes made from stiffer material are more likely to rub blisters on your heels and other parts of your foot.
  • Lace ’em up. Choose shoes with laces for a more secure and versatile fit. Lace-ups allow for insertion of insoles or orthotics. And you can even adjust the lace pattern to fit your fit needs. If there are two sets of eyelets, using the eyelets farther away from the tongue suits narrower feet, while using the eyelets closer to the tongue allows more space for wider feet.
  • Go low. Shoes with a heel height of 1 inch (2.4 cm) or less are best for the feet. A higher heel puts greater pressure on the front of the foot and causes the body’s weight to distribute unevenly. All of this shifting, sliding, and bending of the foot can cause painful bunions and hammertoe.
  • Those boots aren’t made for walking. Hang up your cowboy boots. Even if you’re a rancher punching cattle, the narrow toebox on cowboy boots cramps the toes and rubs blisters. And chic ankle booties may not provide enough ankle support. Not to mention the height of the heels…