Suitable Shoes

Choosing the right shoes is important. Shoes provide your feet with support and stability and protect your feet from the environment. Choosing the wrong type or size of shoe can be damaging to your feet, or can make existing foot problems worse.

Listed here are some general points to help you choose the right shoes. If you have a condition that requires you to wear special footwear, you should always follow the advice of your doctor, podiatrist or other health care professional.

Finding the correct fit
It is important for your comfort and health of your feet that your shoes fit properly. Some general points to keep in mind are:

Overall length – Make sure there is 1cm (1/2 inch) of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe when you are standing up. You should be able to wiggle your toes.

Width – Make sure there is enough width for your whole foot, and that there is no pressure on any of your joints.

Back of heel – Your shoes shouldn’t slip at the back when you walk. Make sure the back of the shoe is high enough to prevent it from slipping, but not so high that it rubs the back of your leg.

Footwear for common foot problems
Some conditions, such as arthritis and diabetes, can cause problems with your feet. Listed here are some general points about footwear for these conditions. However, you should always follow the advice of your doctor or podiatrist for your specific condition.

Caring for your feet is important if you have diabetes. You should make sure that your footwear fits properly – it should not rub anywhere and you should have plenty of room for your toes. Diabetes UK and the The College of Podiatry have information on how to care for your feet if you have diabetes.

If arthritis affects the joints in your feet you may have difficulty finding comfortable shoes. Look for footwear with shock absorbing insoles, thick but flexible, lightweight soles to protect your feet, and plenty of depth to accommodate your toes. Arthritis Research UK has further advice on footwear for arthritis.

Swollen feet
If you have swelling in your feet and lower limbs, you may find it difficult to find shoes that fit well, or find them difficult to put on and take off. You may require special footwear with extra depth. Look for footwear that has a heel with a broad base, an adjustable fastening such as laces or velcro, a supportive upper and slip resistant sole. It is a good idea to be fitted by someone who has had appropriate training, through an organisation such as The Society of Shoefitters.

Sensitive feet
Some people may experience allergic reactions to leather footwear, which are usually caused by the chemicals used in the tanning process, or by dyes. If you know what causes your allergy, you may need to look for shoes made from leather that has been tanned in a different way. Alternatively, you may need to look for shoes that have a fabric upper. Depending on the severity of your allergy, shoes with a fabric lining or cotton socks or stockings may be appropriate. The British Footwear Association can provide you with further information and advice about footwear allergies.