How to Know if a Pair of Shoes Will Actually Be Comfortable

by Heather Fletcher

We’ve all experienced the frustration of finding what we thought was the perfect pair of shoes, only to discover that by the end of the day our feet are screaming. And according to the American Podiatric Medical Association, a full 62 percent of U.S. adults want more comfortable shoes. 

The wrong shoes can not only be money down the drain (because you may never dare to wear them again after that first unfortunate outing) and cause discomfort, but they can also lead to serious conditions. Keep reading for tips and tricks to finding a pair you know will be perfect — including leveraging compression socks to help you rely less on your shoes. 

Know Your Feet

Knowing the shape of your foot before selecting a shoe can save you time in the store (and pain once you leave). If you are not sure what your foot shape is, trace its outline while standing. Take that outline with you to the store and match the shoes you selected to the outline. 

You should also be wary of falling into the habit of relying on your old shoe size. The size of your feet can change over the years, so measure them before you try on that new pair of shoes. (Also, it’s common for one foot to be larger than the other, so go with a pair that fits the larger one.) 

In addition to getting a clear picture of your foot shape and size, to find comfortable work shoes that will carry you through your busy schedule with ease, shop for shoes at the end of the day when your feet are at their largest. They should feel good on your feet as soon as you try them on. 

Choosing the Right Shoe

Poorly fitting shoes can lead to avoidable issues such as stress fractures, bunions, blisters and calluses. But if you pay attention to the three basic qualities found in proper, well-fitting shoes — sturdy heels, toe flexibility and supportive soles — you shouldn’t ever have to battle them. 

Our top tip for choosing the right pair? Never eyeball a shoe! Instead, put the shoes on, and walk around in the store. Make sure there’s enough room for your toes and that your heel fits in there snugly. Press down on the front of the shoe to ensure there is enough room for your toes — there should be  one-third to a half inch (the tip of your thumb) between your big toe and the end of the shoe. And always remember: If a shoe is too tight in the store, then it will be too tight with repeated wear. “Breaking in” a pair of shoes is not necessary. 

How to Make Your Shoes More Comfortable

Even if you’ve followed all the tips mentioned above, you may still need to take additional steps to ensure comfortable work shoes live up to their name. Many of us experience long periods of sitting and standing at work, which can cause blood to pool in the lower legs, ankles and feet, leading to swelling. In addition to throwing off the fit of your shoes, those long periods of sitting or standing can lead to serious blood clots, called deep vein thrombosis. 

Wearing compression socks daily to promote blood circulation back to the heart will help prevent these health problems by reducing the size of your feet. For those with known foot and ankle problems, such as edema, compression socks gently squeeze pooled fluids up and away from the feet to relieve pressure, no matter what shoes you’re wearing them with. If you’re going to wear compression socks with your shoes, be sure to do so when trying on new shoes to get the best fit. 

Following these tips will ensure you never buy a pair of shoes that betray you again. But if you’re still having foot and leg issues, consult your doctor for the best solution. 

Heather Fletcher is a lifestyle writer with 10 years of experience in health and wellness. She received her Master’s in Exercise Physiology from the University of Pittsburgh. She enjoys everything fitness-related and is a self-described foodie.


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