If the Shoe Fits

Learn how to get the perfect shoe that actually fits properly for healthier feet and overall circulation.

Do you cram your feet into the smallest shoe you can stand? If so, you are well on your way to foot and toe problems, such as crooked toes, bruised arches and heels, and the balls of your feet can be affected as well. Choosing a shoe that fits properly is not so hard to do, so long as you know what to watch out for.

If you have a high arch, choose a shoe that has a high arch built in. Reebok and Sketchers tend to have high arches, and you can feel inside the shoe for the arch. If you feel a higher arch, try the shoe on. Otherwise, pass it on by. You don't want to be whining about pulled arches later.

The higher the shoe, the more ball pain you may experience, and the more likely you are to get bunions on your big toe from all the pressure. Also, shoes that have narrow toes, like pointed shoes and many stylish women's shoes, cram your toes all together, which can lead to hammer toes, bunions, and painful walking over time.

The best shoes are flat shoes with wide areas in the toes where your toes have enough room to wiggle. If the toes touch the ends of your shoe when you walk or stand, go up half a size. You don't want to worry about ingrown toenails because your toes are constantly bumping at and rubbing the ends of your shoes.

Get a shoe that has proper absorption of motion in the sole. Many running shoes have shock absorption, and higher end work shoes have gel insoles to absorb the pressure of standing all day. Your feet will thank you for it.

Buy leather, if you can. Man-made materials just don't breathe. Wear cotton socks so your feet can breathe during the day.

Tie your laces tight, but not so tight you feel like your feet are being cut off. You want a firm fit on your shoes, not a vice-like squeezing that interferes with circulation.

If you wear heels a lot, change it up now and then with comfortable flats, to give your feet a break and stretch out your toes. The higher the heel, the more damage to your feet over time.

Oddly enough, flip flops are the worst type of footwear at all. These shoes offer no support for the foot, toes, or ankle at all and over time cause even more damage than the highest of heels. Keep your flip flop wearing to wet summer activities if you can, and protect your feet with well-fitting, supportive sandals the remainder of the time.

To avoid foot issues in the future, always wear comfortable shoes when you can, and always wear them in your size. It's best to be a bit too roomy than not roomy enough for the best health of your feet. Unless you want bunions, painful arches, and inflamed balls of your feet with gnarly toes in just a few years, put on some great sneakers now and then and give your poor feet a much-needed break.