Footwear Guide

Footwear Guide

Foot comfort is essential in maintaining STABILITY, MOBILITY, SAFETY AND HEALTH. Ill fitting shoes can cause or aggravate bunions, corns, calluses hammer-toes, and many other disabling foot conditions.

Poor footwear choices can lead to trips and falls in the young and old alike; cause pain and suffering requiring time off work, and possible surgery- all detrimentally affecting life-style choices and recreational activities.

It is estimated that one in six people have foot problems. Thirty six percent regard their foot problems as serious enough to warrant professional attention, with many more seeking help with the structural alignment of their feet to treat knee, hip and back pain.

A recent study’ found that:

  • 9 out of 10 women are wearing shoes that are too small for their feet
  • 8 out of 10 women say that their shoes are painful
  • More than 7 out of 10 women have developed a bunion, hammer-toe or other foot deformity
  • 9 out of 10 women’s foot deformities can be attributed to tight and ill-fitting shoes
  • 1 out of 3 seniors (age 65+) have foot problems

(* Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, ShoeStats ’98, Washington D.C)

large bunion on a foot with a turned under big toe Stiletto high heel shoes deform feet and cause problemsTHINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO SHOPPING FOR FOOTWEAR!

  • Shoes are made from different ‘last’ shapes: curved, semi-curved, semi-straight, straight..Do you know which one your foot type needs?
  • Certain shoes are constructed for people who ‘over-pronate’ (foot rolls inward at the ankle), some for those who ‘supinate’ (foot that does not roll enough).
  • Do you know which one you need?

What activity is the shoe to be used for?

  • Different activities, particularly sporting activities, require different shoe features.
  • Are your shoes wearing unevenly or badly?
  • Are they misshapen?



HEEL: The heel takes a large proportion of body weight. Ideally, the heel should be less than 4 cms in height, have a broad base for support and stability. Too high a heel throws body weight forward onto the ball of the foot, causing micro-trauma and potential damage. Wearing high heels for long periods allows shortening of the Achilles Tendon, often resulting in loss of function and pain.
How high heel shoes affect womens feet, back and legs
HEEL COUNTER: Choose a shoe with a firm heel counter — the portion of the shoe that grasps the heel of the foot at the back and sides. It is there for stability and heel control. If the heel counter softens or breaks down, replace the shoe.

SOLE: The entire bottom of the shoe — will be made from a variety of materials and in different thickness, depending on the function of the shoe.

UPPER: The material that forms the main part of the shoe covering the top of the foot should be made of breathable material e.g. leather, and should be stretchable for those with hammer-toes and arthritic joints.

LINING: As per upper, and should be smooth, seam free to prevent blisters and sores. This is particularly important for those with diabetes.

FASTENING: Shoes should have some device for holding the foot ‘back and down’ in the shoe. This means laces, buckles, straps, velcro or a ‘high-fronted’ slip-on shoe, which comes well up the foot. Classic ‘slip-on shoes’ particularly ladies pumps and court shoes, can only stay on the foot by cramping the toes, making them too small!

TOE-BOX: This is where the toes sit. The toe box should be wide and deep enough to accommodate your foot shape.

SHOE SIZE: There is no conformity in shoe sizing between shoe manufacturers. It is essential that shoes are tried on. Do this at the end of the day, when your feet have expanded. Get both feet measured for length and width, standing, and accommodate the largest foot. Remember, the big toe isn’t always the (biggest) longest toe! There should be a thumb width space between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe, with the foot held ‘back and down’ in the shoe.
Shoes need to ‘breathe’. Put them out in the sun to air, and help kill off any ‘bugs’. Airing also prolongs the life of footwear, as stitching and leather gets the opportunity to dry out.


CHILDREN: Until a child is walking, socks and booties are fine. When your child starts walking, around 12 — 15 months, bare feet is best in a safe environment to allow the muscles to develop. Shoes should be expertly fitted, allowing sufficient room in the toe box, with pliable sole, unless we advise otherwise for specific conditions.

SPORTS SHOES: Different activities require specific types of footwear just as different foot types require specific shoe features. Considering the risk of injury and discomfort caused by wearing the wrong shoe for the activity or foot type; it really does make sense to seek and take our advice.

OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY FOOTWEAR: The knowledge you need when buying OPF is the same as if you were buying sports shoes: different shoes and boots for different uses and foot types. Check that the footwear supplied by your employer is suitable for your feet.

THOSE WITH POOR CIRCULATION / DIABETES / PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY: Please talk to us before purchasing footwear. Your needs are very specific and require extra care and consideration to prevent harm and injury.

FOOT DEFORMITY OR ARTHRITIC and PAINFUL JOINTS: Sometimes, these feet need to have shoes specially made. However, we also know the best ready-made shoes to try that may be modified to suit your needs. We can show you different lacing techniques and handy tips to improve shoe comfort and fit.

ORTHOSES / ORTHOTICS / SHOE INSERTS: You should already be aware of your footwear requirements. This should be addressed at the time of your biomechanical assessment. If you have forgotten, are confused, or can’t find shoes, speak to us.



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Gladesville Healthcare Clinic
74 Morrison Rd
Gladesville NSW 2111.

Clinic Hours: Monday to Friday: By Appointment
Tel: 9816. 3071
Fax: 9816 2037

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