How to choose a pair of shoes

IT can be challenging to find shoes that look good but are also comfortable and won't injure or damage your feet. Fashion dictates what we tend to like and this isn't always the healthiest option. Women and men's shoes can cause lifelong damage to feet, so here are a few pointers on how to buy shoes that will minimise the possible damage.


The front of the shoe needs to be deep enough so as not to press to the top of the toes, otherwise corns can occur. A stretchy, elasticated material or leather front to the shoe may help.


A quarter inch space between the ends of your shoe is ideal. Feet stretch as you walk so if you can feel your toes touching the end of the shoe when you are standing, it is too short.


Narrow shoes can squash the foot. Over time, this can cause nail problems, corns and damage to blood vessels and nerves. Wide-fitting shoes give more space around the ball of the foot, but the front of the shoe needs to be rounded or it can still squeeze the toes.


Hard surfaces like pavements are unnatural. To give your feet some shock absorption, buy shoes with thicker soles and soft padding. Sneakers or trainers are ideal for this.


A shoe needs to hold on to you, not you to it. Slip-on shoes have no fastenings. These hold on by fitting tightly around the toes and the foot muscles tense to keep the shoe on at the heel. Laces or straps allow the shoe to be fastened to the arch of the foot. This allows enough space for your toes to function properly.


High heels throw your body weight forward causing foot and possible back and knee problems. However, if you have worn high heels for a long time, the calf muscles can shorten so you can't walk without them comfortably. If you suddenly change to flats you can seriously injure your feet. Ask your podiatrist how you can make the adjustment from higher to lower heels, and about calf stretches.


Choose leather or breathable synthetic uppers as these allow air to circulate around the foot. Plastic materials tend to stop sweat evaporating, which encourages fungal infections of the skin and nails.

Wear the sensible shoes for about 80 per cent of the day and save the "fashion" shoes for special occasions, just try not to walk too far in them!

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