Valley Foot Care, Inc.

Patient Education Library

Shoe Selection Guidelines

Shoe Selection Guidelines1. Shop for shoes late in the day
Our feet can swell by as much as 8% during a day. Buying shoes later in the day will prevent buying shoes that are too tight.

2. Measure often and measure right
Our feet change size with time and should be measured each time before buying shoes. Our ligaments become relaxed and areas of bony prominence, such as bunions and hammer toes, may change with time.

3. Remember that a shoe has 3 dimensions
The first dimension of a shoe is the length, which is from heel to toe. Leave about a ½ inch between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. It is also important to measure the arch length, from the heel to the end of the ball of the foot. This corresponds to where the shoe flexes when pressure is applied.

The second dimension is the width, the widest part of the foot, usually at the base of the toes. Here, a shoe should allow for bony prominences, such as bunions.

The third and often overlooked dimension of a shoe is the depth, which is often referred to as the “toe box.” The height of the shoe allows room for hammer toes to float inside the shoe in comfort, versus rubbing on the top of the shoe and creating sore spots such as corns, blisters and ulcers.

When measuring, remember to measure each foot as one may be different from the other. Remember to stand when measuring as your foot changes from sitting to standing.

Most shoe stores have a Brannock Device that will provide length, width and arch length. Although the measurements provide guidance, they are not always a strict rule. Sizes vary from one shoe maker to another, and ultimately the shoe comfort should be more important than the actual number.

4. Shoe Shape and Profile
Narrow or pointed-toe shoes will cause toe crowding. By comparison, square or rounded toes will be more forgiving for more complicated foot structures. Deeper shoes allow more room for hammer toes.

Besides the shape and profile of a shoe, it is important to look at the materials used. Shoes with heavy stitching, stiff leather and seams should be avoided. Shoes that are seamless or have mesh materials or soft leathers are preferred, since they relax over bony prominent areas like bunions and hammer toes.

5. Spend Time with Your New Shoe
Try both shoes on and walk in both shoes throughout the store in both soft and hard surfaces. If needed, bring them home and walk on carpet only for a week to make sure your shoes are comfortable.

When breaking in new shoes, be sure to limit time to 1-2 hours per day the first week and gradually increase each week by 2 hours per day. Be sure to examine your feet twice per day looking for redness, sore spots and skin irritation. Immediately discontinue the shoes and see your foot doctor if this occurs.

6. Diabetes and Selecting Proper Shoe Gear
It is recommended that every diabetic see a foot doctor at least once a year. During that examination, the patient typically has his/her circulation checked and is evaluated for nerve damage (neuropathy). Prior to purchasing shoes at the store, it is recommended that patients with Diabetes have their feet examined by a podiatrist to discuss which shoe is most appropriate for their feet. The doctor may recommend an extra-depth shoe that allows for comfort, function and minimizes risks of ulceration and amputation.


To find the right shoe it is recommended you get measured using a Brannock Device to find the correct size. Make sure you have at least a half inch at the end of your big toe and the end of the shoe. Also, press on your small toe to make sure it is comfortable. Avoid shoes that are too narrow or tapered.
It is recommended you try shoes on late in the day when your foot is more swollen. This will avoid buying a shoe that is too narrow if bought earlier in the day.
Private Practice Since 1997
American Board Of Wound Healing
The American Board of Podiatric Medicine
American Board Of Multiple Specialties In Podiatry
American Professional Wound Care Association