Foot Health: Picking the Perfect Shoeby Vicki Karigiannis
published November 26, 2012
Comfort without compromising style
Do you always seem to buy shoes that end up causing pain to your feet? Many women feel that this is simply a normal part of the shoe-wearing process, but it doesn’t have to be. We spoke with Dr. Jeff Cowen, a chiropodist and spokesperson for shoe company NAOT, and he shared with us tips on what to look out for when shoe shopping, to ensure comfort in your footwear.
What’s the most common mistake women make when buying shoes?
“The first thing that comes to mind is that women buy based on fashion, not fit,” the expert tells us. “Often what looks and feels good in the store, is not actually good for the foot.”
What should women look for when buying a pair of shoes or boots?
Dr. Cowen recommends a few basics to look out for. Regarding both casual and workplace-appropriate footwear, “try to keep the heel height to two inches or less, and to have a rubber sole, as opposed to an all-leather sole.” As he explains, the rubber acts as a cushion for the bones at the front of the foot, where there are usually the most problems.
As for high heels? “I tend to say “the lower the better”. If you do [tend to] go high, keep them on for short periods of time,” he advises. He also recommends opting for more flexible uppers, such as with softer leathers. And if there’s a tight fit in the front of the shoe, jamming the foot into its hard confines can cause problems with the joints and nerves. “This could [even] cause deformity over time.”
And his last tip is to go shoe shopping at the end of the day: “The foot will be slightly larger towards to end of the day, due to inflammation,” he shares.
What rule of thumb can you provide in regards to choosing the right shoe size?
Whatever your size, you want extra room at the toes, particularly for fashionable shoes. “An extra one-eighth to one-quarter of an inch in a dress shoe, particularly in a high heel,” he recommends.
As for running shoes, he suggests going up by a half, or even a full, size. “When you run, your foot moves forward. If there isn’t [any extra] room, toes can tap to the front and cause problems, such as corns, blisters, and tendon issues.”
What makes NAOT shoes different from other brands?
“I always recommend shoes I’ve tried and like,” says the long-time NAOT supporter. “[I especially enjoy] the sandal line, which have the right balance of support and cushioning. Too much or too little of either can lead to tendonitis and strain.
“And while other shoes tend to be harder, these have a good architectural base, and anatomical support to the foot.” In short, they have the perfect design and structural support, making for an all-around comfortable shoe.
Can poorly-made shoes have any other implications on the body?
“The body’s all connected,” the chiropodist reminds us. “My patients have complained of back or hip pain, all commonly associated with improper footwear.”
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