By Dr. Bridget Brondon
Just like all feet are different shapes and sizes, shoes are all different shapes and sizes as well. No two brands measure the same way, for example Adidas shoes generally run bigger than Nike and Puma shoes run small and narrow. Even within a certain brand of shoes, different styles can fit differently.
|Different sized feet|
The only way to know exactly what your size is for a specific shoe is to try on the shoes in the store. Also, when trying on shoes, try on BOTH the right and left shoes. Most people have one foot that is slightly larger than the other and this can make a difference in the overall comfort of the pair of shoes. When in doubt, go with the size for the larger foot, not the smaller foot. That way you are less likely to get rubbing or irritation from a shoe that is too small. If there is a significant difference in the size of your feet, you may need to get a different size for each. Not all companies offer this, but New Balance is one option that does.
The shape of our feet can also determine which shoes are better for our feet than others. Frequently in the office, I will hold up a shoe to a patient’s foot and half of the foot will be hanging over the side! If your foot does not fit within the lines of your shoe, it is likely causing increased pressure on your foot from squeezing into it. If you have a wider foot, look for a shoe with a rounded or square forefoot area (the part from the ball of the foot forward). If you have a narrower foot, look for a shoe that has straps or laces to help hold it on your foot better. Also, if you have some type of deformity of the foot, such as a bunion or hammertoes, make sure that the shoe you select can accommodate the deformity without adding extra pressure to the area.
The fabric of the shoe can also make a big difference. Tighter fabrics with less give to them, such as new leather or plastic, can cause irritation if they are rubbing on prominent areas of the foot. Softer fabrics can be more flexible which may not be good if you need more support.
Keep in mind, our shoe size and shape frequently change with time due to gravity and standing/walking on our feet over the years. Don’t worry so much about the number on the shoe box. Most people won’t be able to guess the size of your feet just by looking at them so it shouldn’t be a big deal if you have to go up from an 8 to a 9. Comfort and preventing problems should be more important than the number.