Proper Shoe Fit

Buying shoes that fit well is essential to good foot health. Poorly fitting shoes can lead to pain, bunions, corns, calluses, hammertoes, plantar fasciitis, and even stress fractures. But how do you know if you’re buying the right shoes? Do you need a bigger size, a different style, or a wider shoe? Picking out shoes can be a daunting and overwhelming task, but these tips can help to point you in the right direction.

We tend to see a lot of patients who are convinced they wear a certain size, then when we measure their foot it ends up being a size or more smaller than they expected. It’s easy to forget when you’re buying shoes that they come in different widths, not just different sizes. While getting a larger size will help the shoe to fit better, it also lengthens the shoe and could cause you to trip over your toes when you walk.

Brannock Device

One way to know what size and width to start with is having your feet measured with something called a Brannock Device:


These measure both the length and the width of your foot, and most stores that sell shoes will have one of these on the sales floor. Most people have one foot that is slightly larger than the other foot, so make sure to buy shoes according to the size of your larger foot. Have your feet measured at the end of the day—as we stand and walk throughout the day, our feet swell. Measuring your feet and buying shoes at the end of the day ensures that you will be comfortable all day, not just when you leave first thing in the morning. Every shoe company makes their shoes using different lasts (or molds), (  there may be a slight variation in sizes between companies, so while the measured size may not be the exact size you get in every single shoe, it will give you a good starting point. In addition, have your feet measured each time you buy shoes. Our feet change shape and size as we get older, so you may need a different size now than you bought last time.

How to get the right fitting shoe

One of the great myths of buying shoes is that you should give them time to “stretch out”. Don’t buy shoes that are tight or uncomfortable and expect them to stretch to fit to your foot. Your shoes should feel comfortable and fit well in the store. Bring the socks you typically use for walking or running to try on shoes. Take a few laps inside the store to ensure that your heel does not slip out of the shoe and that there is no chafing anywhere inside the shoe. When you stand, there should be about 3/8” to ½” between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. (

Differences Between Walking Shoes, Running Shoes, and Other Types of Shoes

Make sure to also match the shoe to the activity you will be doing.



There are differences between walking and running shoes, or between trail running and hiking shoes. Running shoes typically have a slightly higher heel than a walking shoe due to where foot contact with the ground occurs (   good shoe construction consists of a cushioned heel, especially for high-impact activities such as running and jumping; a firm sole that doesn’t twist or bend easily, to give increased support especially on uneven terrain; flexibility at the proper area for the activity you will be doing; proper arch support; and a soft, breathable upper section to match the shape of your foot.