Lacing Up the Proper Footwear

Most people spend much time carefully choosing the clothing they wear. They pick outfits based on the event they're attending or the weather outside.

Often, footwear is seen as an afterthought - an accessory to an outfit. But this is a mistake. For comfort and safety, you should put as much thought into what shoes go on your feet as to what clothing goes on your body.

Whether you're lacing up for work, play or competition, it's important that you choose properly fitting footwear. Your footwear should match the activity you're participating in as much as your clothing matches the weather.

If you're planning to go for a run, wear running sneakers. If you're going to walk for fitness, put on your walking shoes. If you're going to work, make sure you have the right shoes that offer support and comfort.

Improperly fitting footwear can lead to pain and injuries, including foot pain, knee pain, hip pain and back pain, foot tendinitis and plantar fasciitis.

Here are some tips for making sure your shoes fit:

Have your feet measured at least once or twice a year to determine your proper shoe size. The ligaments and soft tissues in your feet change over time by relaxing and stretching. This leads to changes in the shape and size of your foot.

When measuring your foot, the arch length is important. Arch length is the distance from the heel to the ball of your foot. Your big toe should bend where the shoe bends. To determine if your shoes properly fit your arch length, rise up on your toes. If your toes bend where the shoes bend, then the fit is good for your arch length.

When buying new shoes, always take along the socks or hosiery you plan to wear with the shoes being purchased. The thickness of the socks will affect the fit of the shoes. So don't take pantyhose with you when you're trying on running shoes!

Always determine shoe size when standing up. Walk around the store for a minute to make sure the shoe fits properly and is comfortable. There should be a half inch between your longest toe and the end of the front of the shoe. A thumb width can be used as a general guide.

Shop for shoes later in the day. Feet tend to swell a bit as the day progresses, so shopping later in the day will ensure that shoes are not too tight.

Most importantly, remember that all sizes are not equal. It is more important that the shoe fits properly, regardless of size.

Although just about every store you go to today sells shoes, it is sometimes difficult to find a store that offers proper foot measuring or people knowledgeable about footwear. It's best to find a store that specializes in athletic or work shoes. Typically, the people who work in these stores know more about footwear. They can make professional recommendations based on needs, and they can offer you personal shoe fittings.

If you're receiving physical therapy for an injury or other issue, footwear can play a part. Excessively worn or ill-fitting shoes can contribute to delays in rehab progress or can lead to the development of other problems. That's why we assess footwear as part of the physical therapy process at Good Shepherd.

Remember, instead of just throwing on a pair of shoes before walking out the door, take a minute to think about what activities you'll be doing that day and choose accordingly.

If you wouldn't wear a swimsuit in a snowstorm, don't wear flip flops to run a marathon!

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