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The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
Burton J. Katzen, DPM
The Perfect Pair Of Comfortable Shoes
Metro Foot Care Centers
. http://www.marylandfootdoctor.com

The Perfect Pair Of Comfortable Shoes

In an average lifetime, a persons feet will carry them between 150,000 and 200,000 miles. Thats 6-8 times around the world. And since for the entire distance our feet will act as levers, balancers and shock absorbers, it makes good sense to be kind to them by keeping them as comfortable and healthy as possible.
There are 26 bones and 33 joints in the foot. They are moved by muscles and tendons and held together by
ligaments. From the time we are born, our feet are constantly changing. They continue to change in size and shape throughout our life. For this reason, we should be measured for shoes periodically. Foot conditions such as bunions, hammertoes, and thick nails may require added room to accommodate them.
This being said, we must realize that finding the perfect pair of shoes is a futile task. First of all, we are not starting with a perfectly symmetrical pair of feet. Just like every part of the human anatomy, the left side is different from the right, so one foot may be minimally shorter, wider, more
flexible, or more swollen. Yet we always buy two shoes that are exactly alike. The result is that there might be some misfit of one foot.
We must also realize that these asymmetrical feet do not remain static. When we stand, walk, run, participate in sports, and go through weather and season changes, our feet are constantly changing in size and shape. So, as you might see, the problem is finding a pair of shoes that will function well as the feet change and become different sizes and shapes.
The first concern with shoe
fitting is the shape of the last. The shoe last is the mold over which the shoe pattern is assembled. Common sense should tell us that the shape of the shoe should resemble the shape of our feet. Fashion, on the other hand has often dictated squeezing the foot into sleek, narrow silhouettes, which can cause or exacerbate foot conditions. They are cut narrower at the instep with more room at the toes. European lasts are designed different than American lasts.
Individuals with pronated or flat feet may find European shoes very uncomfortable and not long lasting. Always chose a style that is
comfortable to you in the shoe store.
Secondly, the sizing system of shoes for these individual lasts has very few standards. There is no absolute standard as to what a length and width means. If you were to line up 5 pairs of shoes, all in size 7, you may find that they all fit very differently. Therefore, remember that measuring for foot size is only an approximation and no substitute for trying on and walking with a pair of shoes in the store.
A third problem is the
availability of sizes and widths in the United States. Going from sizes 4-12 with widths ranging from 4A to 3E to the new standard N-M-L has reduced the number of sizes from 170 to 39. There is no mystery here that the economics in producing and stocking many different size shoes keeps limiting our choices.
A fourth problem with correct shoe fitting is the recent proliferation of self-service shoe stores. While eliminating a sales staff can cut
10-15% off the cost of shoes, there is a health cost associated with not having an experienced, well-trained staff to consult with. It is estimated that only 10% of the over 200,000 shoe sales persons in the United States have had any formal training. While buying ill fitting, inexpensively made shoes may be a simple inconvenience and waste of money to some, it may be a severe health hazard to people with impaired circulation, such as diabetics.
Remember that nature intended us to be barefoot so our feet could adapt to changing surfaces. However, since most of us now wear shoes and walk on hard surfaces, we should especially be conscious of protecting our feet with comfortable shoes. The ball of the foot should rest on the widest part of the shoe. The heel should fit snug and not slip, and your toes shouldnt push against the top of the shoe. The shoe should be measured to your longest toe (whether it be the first or second), and the space between the toe and the inside end of the shoe can be up to a 1/2 inch. Always try on both shoes, lace them up, and walk around before you purchase them. If your feet vary slightly in size, fit the largest foot comfortably and have the shoe salesman place spacer pads (usually under the tongue) in the shoe.

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