Well-Fitting Shoes Protect Aging Feet

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Walking Shoes and Style

If style is the main objective when you select shoes, your feet may suffer, especially as you age.

Over time, your feet become wider and longer and the natural padding under your heel and forefoot thins. Years of use also flatten your arches and stiffen your feet and ankles.

If you often wear shoes that are too short or too narrow, you may develop foot deformities such as bunions, calluses or corns, hammertoes or pinched nerves between your toes. Wearing better-fitting shoes reduces your chances of developing deformities or making them worse.

The July 2005 issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource offers these tips when selecting shoes:

  • Try on shoes later in the day. Feet can swell as the day wears on.

  • Fit shoes to your largest foot. Your feet aren't equally matched, so have both measured.

  • Make sure there's at least a half-inch for your longest toe at the end of each shoe when you're standing. You should be able to wiggle all toes.

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  • Make sure your heel doesn't ride up and down when you walk.

  • Leave too-tight shoes behind. There's no such thing as a break-in period.

  • Look for shoes that are solidly constructed, conform to your feet and have cushioned soles that absorb the shock of hard surfaces.

  • Try a lace-up style. A shoe that ties can be adjusted for better comfort and support.

  • Look for a natural material, such as leather, on the upper portion of the shoes because it's usually softer and provides more flexibility than a man-made material.

If you have diabetes, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis or other conditions that put you at risk of foot problems, ask your doctor what other precautions are recommended.

Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource is published monthly to help women enjoy healthier, more productive lives. Revenue from subscriptions is used to support medical research at Mayo Clinic. To subscribe, please call 800-876-8633, extension 9PK1.

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