Signs of Poor-Fitting Shoes

Because feet swell as the day wears on, it's best to shoe shop in the afternoons.
Because feet swell as the day wears on, it's best to shoe shop in the afternoons. (Image: Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Many experts believe one of the best ways to prevent foot pain is to wear properly fitting shoes. Sadly, a number of consumers believe the shoes they purchase in stores, while initially uncomfortable, will feel better after they've been "broken in." The reality is that truly ill-fitting shoes will make themselves known at almost the first moment you try them on. From there, other red flags will appear, indicating that it's time to reconsider your chosen footwear.

Pain and Aggravation

The most obvious signs that your shoes don't fit properly are pain, such as cramping, or a sensation that your feet are falling asleep while you're moving around. Blistering in and between your toes is another warning sign, as well as the aggravation of preexisting problems such as calluses, bunions and hammertoes. Perhaps more seriously, people with diabetes might suffer complications due to footwear that impedes proper blood circulation.

A Matter of Movement

Shoes that fit will allow your toes "wiggle room" within your socks; there should be space akin to the width of your thumb between the end of your longest toe and the frontmost interior wall of your shoe. That said, footwear that binds your toes or presses them into place will cause damage not only to your skin as it rubs together while you walk or run, but, at worst, to your vascular system, and the muscles and bones within your feet.

Just Enough Room

While being able to make subtle movements with your feet inside of your shoes is an indicator of a good fit, too much room can indicate the opposite. This, perhaps, is most noticeable if your heels tend to slip out of your shoes' ends or heel cups. Shoes, at their best, are snug, not restrictive. At their worst, their cumbersome and difficult to keep on your feet.

Prepare to Adapt

The likelihood that your shoes' fit will be compromised increases if you don't pay attention to changes in your body. As we age, our feet never stop growing and changing shape; that's why it's important to measure both feet annually. Pregnant women, especially, need to keep an eye on the changes their feet undergo. Due to natural weight gain, women's center of gravity changes during pregnancy, causing their stances and, in turn, the places their feet carry weight to change, adding pressure to new and different regions of their feet.

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