Why wearing the right shoes matters

The shoes we wear every day fulfill a very important need. They keep us comfortable as we move about and help us maintain our balance, especially as we age.

What goes into ensuring you’ve got the perfect fit in the shoe you wear every day? More than you’d think.

“A proper fitting shoe is important and most people don’t know what a proper fitting shoe means; they really do need to be fitted,” podiatrist Steven Weiskopf, DPM, of Village Podiatry, an Upperline Health Company, told the AJC.

Finding the right fit goes beyond your shoe size. It’s also about matching the shoe to your physical needs, how you’ll move when you wear the shoe, and any mobility limitations you might be experiencing.

“Shoes should have room for the toes to spread out and be free,” Steve DeMoss, owner and general manager of Big Peach Running Co. in Marietta told the AJC.

Even the material of the shoe itself matters when looking for just the right one.

“All leather shoes, even sneakers, are not a great idea,” Weiskopf said.

He recommends mesh shoes, especially for every day. The material is breathable and less stiff, especially at the toe where it should give as you walk.

You may also want to consider adding arch support to your shoe.

“Arch supports can be really helpful; they can help restore some cushioning to the bottom of the foot, reducing pain,” Weiskpof said.

Although they offer many positives, DeMoss suggests looking at the shoe’s performance on its own and adding arch support only to fit a need not met by the shoe itself.

Aging and proper footwear become an essential conversation because your feet change as you get older. The biggest difference is the skin itself.

“The skin on the feet gets thinner and the cushioning on the bottom of your foot is less, so it’s even more important as we age to have proper-fitting shoes,” Weiskopf said.

This change can make you more susceptible to blisters. You may also notice you need more cushioning in your shoe to keep your feet from hurting.

Balance can also present an issue that requires you to rethink what shoe is best for you.

“Balance becomes a huge issue as patients become older, and having the right shoe or even an assistive device, even just around the house, can help decrease risk,” Weiskopf said.

The key, according to DeMoss, is to find, “comfort that inspires confidence.” This means having a stable base underfoot and avoiding shoes that have too much padding or feel too soft when walking around.

With all of these things to take into consideration, regardless of the type of shoe you’re shopping for, remember that, especially as you age, shoes provide an essential function.

“Shoes should take the stress off feet and align things all the way up the chain,” DeMoss said. “That’s why fit, stability, and the experience underfoot when you’re walking every day should all factor into finding the perfect shoe.”