Series: Ask the Experts
This week, we spoke to Happy Feet Plus resident Pedorthist, Jim Kaufman, on his tips for finding the right shoe fit.
Q: Why is it important to be fit for a shoe either in-person or virtually?
A: Shoe brands are like clothing brands, they will fit differently from brand to brand depending on the material, the construction of the shoe, etc. With self-service shoe departments, there is less opportunity to have your feet analyzed by an expert. This leads to incorrect shoe sizes, improper fittings, and wearing shoes that can do more harm than good.
Q: Why do I need to be refit when I am shopping?
A: Feet change over time, so your needs may change as well. As we age, the feet will begin to lose elasticity in the ligaments which can elongate or widen the feet. People can lose their arch, causing pronation or even change the size of the foot.
Lifestyle can also have an impact on feet. As your interests and lifestyle changes, the shoes you once wore may not be the best choice for your current activity level.
Q: What do you measure when you are fitting a shoe?
A: We start with a Brannock device to measure the length and width of the foot. There many different types of Brannock devices on the market. We use a European sized one because many of our shoes are European brands.
Length and width are a good baseline to start with, but it is also important to consider girth of the foot, foot needs, and brand fit.
Q: What is the difference between widths?
A: Foot widths range from AAA to 6E. Different shoes are made to accommodate different widths and will need to be selected based on that.
If shoes are not wide enough, it can cause neuromas, metatarsalgia, or forefoot pain. If they are too tight, it can cause the skin to fold up and become painful. It can also cause corns under the skin. If the shoe is too wide, it can cause irritation from friction and shoe slippage.
Q: Why are some shoes not right for different foot types?
A: Some shoes will be more cushioned; some will add more support. Pronation (when the foot turns inward) can get worse if you wear a shoe that is meant for correcting supination (when the foot rolls outward). It is best to consider lifestyle, preference, and personal needs when selecting your shoes. Shoes themselves can offer the proper amount of support for a customer, but options like orthotics can be added if more support is needed.
Q: What can happen if someone has an improper shoe?
A: Issues like pronation can wear out the knee and cause major problems, if not corrected. Shoes need to give guidance to the foot. Toes should never be able to touch the front of your shoes because they will bang against the shoe, swell and expand, causing toe pain, hammertoes, or bunions.
Additionally, always keep in mind that if knee or back pain arises, it could be from your footwear.
Jim Kaufman has been with Happy Feet Plus for 24 years. He first became a Pedorthist in 1993. As such, Jim is trained in shoe construction and many other aspects of footwear design. He is trained in the structure of the foot, diseases of the foot, the anatomy of the foot, and ligaments. His experience helps him determine where the pain or problems are stemming from in the foot.
Stop by a Happy Feet Plus Store to get expert advice and service from Jim or one of our other phenomenal Fit Specialists.
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Submit any questions you may have about footwear, foot pain, knee pain, back pain, etc to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will happily answer in one of our upcoming “Ask the Experts” posts.