What is the right shoe for me? Does the shoe matter? What should I look for in a shoe? What kind of shoes are best for flat feet or low arches? What shoes are best for a high arches?

Wearing proper foot attire is important in avoiding foot/ankle pain, not to mention reducing the risk of knee, hip and low back pain. So, what exactly is “proper foot attire?” Obviously high heels are tough on your feet, while athletic/tennis shoes provide cushion and support. However, there are a lot of tennis shoe brands and styles available, which means you have to do some legwork to find the right shoe for you. Here are a few tips to make the process a little easier.

  • Choose a shoe with a heel less than 2 inches. Higher heels put more pressure on the ball of your foot, which can lead to calluses.
  • Choose a shoe that is wide in the toe box (versus pointed). Wearing shoes that scrunch your toes together can contribute to the development of bunions.
  • Choose a shoe that is snug around your heel. If your foot is slipping in and out of the back of your shoe you may develop blisters.
  • Choose a shoe with adequate arch support. If you have high arches, you will need more arch support than if you have medium or low arches.
  • Try on both shoes before purchasing them. Your feet may be slightly different length, which will affect the fit.
  • Not all shoes are created equally. Do not assume all manufacturer shoe sizes are the same.
  • Walk around in the shoes before purchasing them. Choose a shoe that is comfortable from the first step versus planning to break them in.
  • Choose a shoe that fits your lifestyle. If you are a runner, choose a running shoe. If you’re a construction worker, you will need a quality, supportive boot that meets the fit criteria mentioned above.

Kristin Collins, PT, DPT, COMT