How a shoe is built makes a difference in its fit and function. Knowing the basic parts of a shoe can help you sort through the many available styles and brands. Look for the following features in a shoe:
Consider the shape of your feet
Feet come in many shapes and sizes. To avoid painful problems, consider the shape and size of your feet when buying a pair of walking shoes. Remember, your shoes should conform to the shape of your feet. Your feet should never be forced to conform to the shape of a pair of shoes.
Width and length
Shoes that are too narrow or too wide can lead to painful blisters and calluses. In addition, a toe box that's not high enough — and doesn't provide enough room for your toes — can aggravate foot disorders such as bunions and hammertoes.
The intricate alignment of bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons in your feet forms side-to-side (metatarsal) and lengthwise (longitudinal) arches. As you walk, these springy, flexible arches help distribute your body weight evenly across your feet. Your arches play an important role in how you adapt to various surfaces as you walk. Choose shoes that accommodate your arch type. Generally speaking, your feet fall into one of three categories:
Neutral-arched feet. Your feet aren't overly arched nor are they overly flat. Look for shoes with firm midsoles, straight to semicurved lasts — last refers to the shape of the sole and the footprint around which the shoe is built — and moderate rear-foot stability.
Low-arched or flat feet. Low arches or flat feet may contribute to muscle stress and joint problems in some individuals, though there is not a direct correlation. If you have significantly flat feet, look for a shoe with a straight last and motion control to help stabilize your feet.
High-arched feet. High arches may contribute to excessive strain on joints and muscles, as your feet may not absorb shock as well, especially if you perform a lot of impact or jumping activities. Look for cushioning to compensate for your lack of natural shock absorption. A curved last also may help in some cases.
Get the best fit
Wear the same socks you'll wear when walking, or take the socks with you to the store.
Shop for shoes after you've been walking for a while, and later in the day, when your feet are at their largest.
Buy shoes at an athletic shoe store with professional fitters or at a store where you have lots of options.
Ask the salesperson to measure both feet, measure them yourself, or have a friend or family member help you. Measure your feet each time you buy shoes, because your foot size can change gradually over years. Stand while your foot is measured to get the most accurate measurement.
If one foot is larger than the other, try on a pair that fits your larger foot.
Try on both shoes and check the fit. Wiggle your toes. If you don't have at least a half-inch (1.3 centimeters) between your longest toe and the end of the shoe — approximately the width of your finger — try a larger size.
Be sure the shoe is wide enough. The side-to-side fit of the shoe should be snug, not tight. If you're a woman with wide feet, consider men's or boys' shoes, which are cut a bit larger through the heel and the ball of the foot.
Walk in the shoes before buying them. They should feel comfortable right away. Make sure your heel fits snugly in each shoe and doesn't slip as you walk.
If you follow the recommendations above, you can chose any brand of shoe that fits you. We would recommend, however, that you try to find a shoe that will hold an arch support or custom orthotic. Generally, that is going to mean that a lace-up shoe will work the best. The following brands typically make lace-up shoes that are of good quality and have sufficient room to hold an arch support or custom orthotic.
Tennis shoes, cross-trainers and running shoes: Asics, Avia, Brooks, New Balance, Saucony.
Dress Oxford shoes - Keen, Merrell, Rockport, SAS
Where to buy athletic shoes
Kohls - 3626 Metro Dr.
Famous Footwear - 3606 Metro Dr.
Dicks Sporting Goods - Metro Dr.
Shoe Carnival - 3271 MarketPlace Dr.
Peak Performance - 519 N. 78th St. (402)398-9807
New Balance Store - 2757 S 140th St (402) 330-0186