Selecting and Buying Shoes

Comfort and function often take a back seat when it comes to women's shoes (including some unisex and men's styles). Here's a few ways for your feet to look good and still be able to walk without pain!

Comfort and function often take a back seat to fashionable and trendy among women's shoes (including some unisex and men's styles). Enduring pain and discomfort to look "cute" or "with it" is an age-old trend (Impractical footwear was once one of the main features of being in the upper class. Lower classes did their best to copy upper class trends; due to lack of money or resources, theirs were often"watered-down" versions).

No matter the status, there's a price to pay: Stress is put not just on the feet, but also ankles, knees and back, contributing to the approximately $3.5 billion spent annually in the U.S. for women's foot surgeries.

Here's some enlightening advice:

1.The best shoe for women is a low heel (one inch or lower) and a roomy toe box that helps distribute your body weight evenly across the foot. The best shoe for men is a low heel (half an inch), a wide toe box, a firm heel counter (the piece of leather or other fabric surrounding your heel) and soft, pliable soles-especially if you do a lot of standing.

2. Go by how the shoe fits, not the size. If it feels tight, don't buy them; it won't get any better. Believe me, I know.

3. Shop for shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are often larger due to swelling.

4. Measure BOTH feet; sizes often differ. Always fit to the larger size. Stand when being fitted. Allow a half-inch space from the end of your longest toe to the end of the shoe. Try on both shoes.

5. Select breathable, flexible materials, such as leather or nylon mesh.

6. They're a fashion staple of the business, dress, and casual wardrobe, but don't wear high heels for more than three hours at a time (If wearing three-inch heels or higher). Wearing high heels causes your foot to slide forward, redistributing body weight which creates unnatural pressure points and throwing your body's natural alignment out of whack. High heels can also: injure leg muscles, cause ankle injuries, osteoarthritis of the knee, low back pain, bunions, and calf injuries.

7. Men's shoes, for the most part, are available in a greater variety of widths and conform more closely to the outer dimensions of their feet. Pros and Cons of Loafers and Dress Shoes: Many have roomy toe boxes and lace-up shoes offer added stability, but some have narrow toe boxes, which can squeeze toes. Dress sandals, Pros and Cons: Many provide arch support, there's lots of toe room, and a heel strap that helps keep the foot in place. The lack of support without a heel strap can aggravate heel spurs, a common cause of heel pain. Flip-Flops/Thongs: Some slide-on sandals offer arch support. But the lack of heel support in flip-flops can cause heel pain. Thong sandals canc ause blisters. Those who suffer from heel pain should just totally avoid flip-flops.

8. For women, ballet flats are colorful and fashionable, but their thin soles may provide inadequate cushioning and support, which can result in heel and arch pain. A wedge adds height without a narrow heel. This style may be more comfortable than high heels, but can cause instability. Too-high wedgies can lead to falls. Flip-flops are affordable, colorful, and made of natural material (such as soft leather), which is kinder to feet than plastic (which may cause blisters). But they don't provide stability or support for the sides, back or top of feet. Flat shoes with open backs can cause Achilles tendonitis-an inflammation of the tendon connecting calf muscles to heel. Rounded-toe heels are fashionable and offer more room for the toes than your basic high heel. However, they can also cause instability and push the foot too far forward, increasing pressure on toes and joints. The higher the heel, the bigger the problem.

9. Unisex styles such as Crocs are sturdier than flip-flops but still flexible, with a wide toe box and soft soles. Some people with bunions and other foot disorders may find them more comfortable. But the flexibility may aggravate plantar fasciitis (a painful inflammatory condition) because the heel lifts repeatedly from the shoe surface (also creating that cute "flip-flop" sound). Uggs and other similar boot styles are foot supportive, warm, and fashionable. However, the copycat boot styles offer less arch support.