Shoes are a very important consideration when dealing with any type of foot problem; in the majority of cases if they are not the cause of the problem they will probably still have some bearing on its cause and treatment.

It is impossible on a page like this to give extensive footwear advice, but the following points may be helpful:

A lace, buckle, strap, or other form of “retaining mechanism” is essential in order to hold the foot in the shoe – the fastening should be able to be retightened across the top of the foot every time the shoe is put on (this does not include elastic bandings in slip on shoes). If a slip on type shoe is worn, every time you take a step the toes need to claw slightly to grip the shoe and hold it on your foot. In addition to this, the toe box in these types of shoes is slightly narrower than the foot, so that you literally “wedge” your foot into the shoe to hold it on, which causes problems with corns on the toes and ingrowing nails.

The back of the shoe should come fairly high up the back of the heel and fit comfortably around the back of the foot. It should not be tight or cut into the foot. The material should also be soft enough to bend with the movement of the foot.

Heels should not be too high! A small heel (up to 1-1.5″) is quite acceptable and is unlikely to cause any problems. However,a heel higher than this will cause the foot to slip forwards inside the shoe, exacerbating any problems caused by the tight toe boxes found in shoes with high heels. The muscles in the calf can also shrink slightly if high heels are constantly worn, which can lead to other problems such as heel pain and cramps.

The sole of the shoe should be thick enough to provide adequate shock absorption and have a non slip surface to minimise slipping. When buying shoes, test the firmness of the sole by bending the shoe from heel to toe – if the sole is very soft it may become uncomfortable when walking long distances, particularly on hard surfaces.

Seams can rub, causing blisters, corns, callous, and tendon problems – this is especially dangerous for diabetics or people with poor circulation. Always feel the inside surface of a shoe before buying

Toe boxes must be rounded with enough depth to allow the toes to move. There should always be at least half an inch between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe. This is because the foot lengthens when you walk, so a shoe which appears to fit when standing may not be necessarily a correct fitting. (Always walk around in the shop to test a new pair of shoes).