Mark Reed, DPM   714-528-3668         Melanie Reed, DPM   714-528-7777

Woman's Shoe Guide

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Woman's Shoe Guide

Mark and Melanie Reed, DPM have been treating patients over 25 years.  The most important podiatry factor in finding beautiful and comfortable shoes is starting at a store that has knowledgeable sales professionals, a good selection of quality shoes and a reasonable return policy.  When making your next shoe purchase, it is important to discuss your shoe needs with the sales professional prior to trying on any shoes.  Our first choice in recommending a shoe store that meets or exceeds our criteria is Nordstrom Department Stores.  Over the years, our patients have had the best overall experience at these stores across the country.  Local running stores area also excellent for athletic shoes and especially motion control type running shoes that are not sold at most large box sporting good retailers.
Feet vary in shape as much as faces do. For the average man, over a lifetime, a gradual increase in foot width and length will occur.  If a few years have passed since your feet were last measured, you should not be surprised if your foot length or width has increased.
Forefoot width: When shoes are made, the forefoot width is made to be proportional to the heel. For the man who needs a wide forefoot compared to the heel, there are a number of shoe manufactures that are now making these types of shoes that are called combination lasts. Sometimes shoe stretching can also help make a shoe fit better if a forefoot prominence is present. Unequal length: Certain shoe manufactures will allow the shoe store to order mismatched shoes. If one of your feet is longer than the other, you should discuss your special sizing requirements with your sales professional.  Time of Day: Shopping in the afternoon is preferred to account for any foot swelling that may occur.
In using the measuring devices at the store, it is important to keep n mind that shoe manufactures do not use these devices in making their shoes.  In addition, many shoe manufactures vary their shoe size and it is very common today to find a size 10 that fits like a size 9 or vice versa.
As a general rule, wear your new shoes for an hour at home while making sure the shoes do not become soiled or scuffed.  If a painful area develops during the hour of wearing the shoes at home, the shoes should be exchanged for a 1/2 size larger or a different type of shoe.
In trying on a pair of shoes, it is important to start the process with the concept that the shoe will not conform to your foot with time.  Look for the following size characteristics while standing in the shoes.  Forefoot to Heel Length: The widest part of your foot should match the widest part of the shoe while standing in the shoes.  This is important for determining that the shoe flexes in the same place where the ball of the foot flexes.  Toe Box length: The toe box is the correct length if there is at least one half inch beyond the longest toe.  The longest toe is not always the big toe.  Heel Width: The heel should not slip out of the shoe when walking.  Forefoot and Mid-foot Width: While standing, the forefoot should not cause the shoe to bulge on the sides and the material across the ball and the mid-foot area should compress slightly between the fingers.
If the shoes are to be used with a lot of standing and walking on hard surfaces, then the fashion shoes need to be designed with this activity in mind.  The best women's fashion shoes for heavy activity are those shoes with Vibram light soles, leather uppers and well padded insoles that are removable.  These shoes allow for a cushion insole to be added inside the shoe as well as a functional shoe orthotic if required.  For light business activates, the standard leather soled fashion shoe with leather uppers is suitable as long as it is accepted that the quarter inch leather sole provides little to no shock absorption from walking or standing on hard surfaces.
Few shoe manufactures for athletic shoes are made for a woman's foot. Most athletic shoes for woman are just men's shoes with a different color style. New Balance offers the best size and width offerings for women athletic shoes.  Saucony is a favorite of women with a wide forefoot and an narrow heel.  Other manufactures that are starting to cater to a woman's foot shape is Etonic, Nike, Reebok and Adidas.  The recommended shoes for those who need extra support are New Balance or Brook's Aerial motion control running shoes.  Brooks and New Balance offer the best size and width offerings for running shoes where support is a concern.  However, almost all shoe brands have a motion control shoe in their line.  The most important factor for those looking for a supportive running shoe or walking shoe is that the shoe is a "motion control" type of shoe.  Most shoe stores do not identify which shoes are "motion control" and which are "stability" or "cushioning" type of shoes.  For a walking shoe, purchase a "motion control" running shoe instead of a general walking shoe.  The "motion control" running shoe will give much more support than a standard walking shoe.  Typically, the shoe that is sold at an athletic shoe store is a "stability" type running shoe.   A "stability" type of shoe is for an average foot type that does not have pronation problems or is "flattening out".  As such, due to the poor knowledge of most sale people at athletic shoe stores, either you need to know what you are looking for when you go to the store or you will need to turn to the internet.  
There are some women that need to use a dress foot orthotic to help control the amount of foot motion in the shoe as well as relieve pressure to certain areas of the foot.  A foot orthotic is actually a device that changes your foot's position in the shoe and is usually made by a Podiatrist from a cast of each foot.  A women's dress orthotic is made to accommodate the heel lift and the narrowness of a women's dress shoe. However, some types of athletic foot orthotics will fit into a women's dress shoe because the device is narrow in the heel area.  If a dress orthotic needs to be made, a dress device can be made from the same cast that was used to make an athletic orthotic.
A good dress shoe for a dress orthotic would generally be a shoe that has less than 1 inch heel lift, is enclosed along the sides of the foot and the heel covers the entire heel area.  The foot orthotic should fit inside the shoe so it touches the back of the shoe and causes no widening of the heel of the shoe.  If a poor fit is noted with the foot orthotic and the shoe, either another shoe should be considered or the device should be returned to be narrowed by the laboratory.
Athletic foot orthotics are designed to control the motion of your foot in the shoe.  However, the shoe must not collapse on the inside of the heel and forefoot areas when you are standing or running or the foot orthotic will do nothing in holding your foot correctly. Thus, this is why a "motion control" or "stability" type running shoe is required when wearing foot orthotics in an athletic shoe.  In buying a new running shoe, the shoe should fit correctly and do not increase the size of the shoe because you wear foot orthotics.  The way the foot orthotic should go into the running shoe is that the heel part of the insole that comes with the shoes should be cut out so the heel of the foot orthotic can sit on the bottom of the sole of the shoe. In cutting out the heel part of the insole that came with the shoe, the orthotic can then overlap the forefoot area so there is still cushioning for the ball of the foot.   If the foot orthotic has an extension to the end of the toes, the entire insole that came with the athletic shoe can be removed.
DISCLAIMER: MATERIAL ON THIS SITE IS BEING PROVIDED FOR EDUCATIONAL AND INFORMATION PURPOSES AND IS NOT MEANT TO REPLACE THE DIAGNOSIS OR CARE PROVIDED BY YOUR OWN MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease or prescribing any medication. Visit a health care professional to proceed with any treatment for a health problem.
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