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We all face it, that trip to buy a new pair of shoes. Whether you are venturing off to a fancy running store or checking out your local Ross/Marshalls for a good buy, you are bound to have questions. Whether you dread the trip wondering if they’ll have anything that might possibly work or you are eager for a good find, here are some common questions.

I have bunion and hammertoes. What kind of shoe should I look for?
When buying sneakers, stick to those with a mesh forefoot. This material has more give to it and puts less pressure on your toes. For dressier shoes, consider open-toed shoes or sandals. If you need to cover your toes, soft leather will feel better than thick, rigid leather.

I am diabetic. Do I need special shoes?
Most insurance companies will cover extra depth diabetic shoes with custom inserts if you are diabetic AND have problems with your circulation or nerves in your feet. See your local podiatrist to see if you qualify. If you are diabetic, but have no issues with your feet, stick to a good supportive pair of shoes and remember to avoid going barefoot.

I had an amputation of my toe. Can I keep wearing the same shoes?
Consult your podiatrist. If you have any sort of amputation in your foot, you should have a toe filler at a minimum. These help keep the shape of your shoes and help prevent the remaining toes from bending in towards each other. If you have major deformities or have had a major amputation, you may need a custom-made shoe.

I have dry/cracking skin on my heels. Do my shoes affect this?
Absolutely! Open backed shoes, such as sandals or flip-flops can increase the rim of dry skin on your heel. Hold the moisture in by wearing shoes with a back to them.

Should I get special shoes for flatfeet?
Shoes made for overpronators would be best for you. Make sure they are wide enough, as flatfeet tend to be wider in the midfoot. You may benefit from orthotics or inserts for your shoes as well.

Should I get special shoes for high arched feet?
“Cushioned” shoes are best for you. Avoid most loafers or slip-on shoes. High arched feet tend to have high insteps. Laces can be loosened in that area, whereas slip-on shoes tend to be tight in this area to help hold them on. Orthotics or inserts may also be beneficial for you.

Can I wear heels?
If you do not have foot problems – absolutely – all good things in moderation! You may find higher heels that are more comfortable than shorter ones or vice versa. Shop around and make sure you find a pair that causes no discomfort while walking in the store.

Should I try the rocker bottoms shoes (Sketcher’s Shape-Ups, MBT’s)?
If you have midfoot arthritis, these are fantastic shoes! If you have healthy feet, avoid them. They roll the foot from heel to toe without involving our midfoot or major toe joints. That puts more stress on other joints (ankles, knees). I’ve never seen anyone with amazing legs and butt from wearing this type of shoe alone.

Are these barefoot/minimalist shoes as crazy as they look?
These are great shoes for the right person! If you have foot pain or deformities, these are probably not for you. If you are a runner, who wants to put more stress on your muscles rather than joints, they are worth a try. They require a different running style with which you should familiarize yourself. Remember to break them in slowly and get used to the recommended running style. Wearing them too much too fast can result in stress fractures.

What mistakes do people make when they buy shoes?
Many people have feet that are not the same size. Fit your shoes to the larger foot. If there is a substantial difference, find a store which will sell you a pair of shoes in different sizes (Nordstrom is known for this).

Make sure you measure your foot to the longest toe (not always the big toe) and buy a shoe at least a half size bigger. You want a thumb’s width between the end of your longest toe and the tip of the shoe. A shoe that is too short will cause pressure on the nails, possibly causing thick, loose or ingrown toenails. It can also cause the toes to become crooked.

We often shop for shoes in the morning when we are inspired to buy. Unfortunately mornings are typically a time when people have the least swelling and pain. It’s better to shop later in the day when you have some swelling and tenderness, which can be addressed with good shoes or exacerbated with bad ones.

Remember that you can find amazing shoes for cheap and horrible shoes that are expensive. You don’t always get what you pay for when it comes to shoes. Shop around until you find something that feels right.