Shoes can help with foot problems. If they don't fit well, though, they can also cause problems.

You don't get to try your shoes on first when you buy them online. Instead, you rely on the labeled size and not how they fit. This is why it's a good idea to shop for shoes in person.

This article provides advice on how to choose the right shoes and ensure they fit you correctly.

Stand When Measuring

Stand up when measuring your feet. How you stand can affect the size and shape of your feet. When standing, your feet spread out more.

It is better to have someone else take the measurement. This is because you can only get the right measurement if you stand tall and look straight ahead with your weight centered over your foot.

Measure the Arch Length

An important part of the shoe fit is the arch length. The arch length is measured from your heel to the ball of your foot. The ball of your foot is where your big toe joint bends.

The bend in your big toe should match with where the shoe bends.

With both shoes on, rise up onto your toes. If you feel the shoe bend before or after the big toe joint, then it is not a good fit for your arch length.

Measuring Your Feet

Have your feet measured at a shoe store when it's time to buy a new pair of shoes. Make sure to include these measurements:

  • Length
  • Width
  • Arch ength

Do not rely on a foot measurement from 10 years ago. Ligaments, tissue that attaches bone to bone, tend to relax and stretch as you get older. The other tissues in your foot may change, too. This causes your feet to change shape and size.

Studies have shown that a large part of the population wear the wrong-size shoe. This is associated with foot pain and foot disorders.1

Measure Later in the Day

Have your feet measured later in the day. Do your shopping at this time, too.

Most people have some swelling in their feet by the end of the day. If you shop too early in the day, you may end up with shoes that are too tight.


Size Does Not Matter

Don't worry about the shoe size number. There is a big difference in shoe sizes between shoe companies. This is because different companies use different forms to shape their shoes. This means a size 8 New Balance will not fit the same as a size 8 Nike.

Fit Shoes to the Larger Foot

No two feet are the same. One foot is usually slightly larger than the other.

Buy the shoe size that fits the larger foot. Pads or inserts can fill extra room in a shoe that is too big, but you cannot add space to a shoe that is too small.

Fitting shoes to the larger foot does have a limit. If there is more than a 1.5-size difference between your feet, get two different-sized shoes.

Some stores and companies may allow you to purchase different shoe sizes to make a pair (few do, but give it a try!).


Trying on Shoes for Fit

Try shoes on at the shoe store before buying. If you order them online, try them on first before deciding if you will keep them. Here are a few tips to help you make your decision.

Wear Appropriate Socks or Hosiery

Wear the socks, nylons, etc. that you would normally wear with the type of shoes you are trying on.

If you wear athletic socks with sneakers, wear athletic socks when trying on sneakers. If you wear hosiery with dress shoes, wear the same hosiery when you try them on. The thickness of the sock will have a big impact on the fit of the shoe.

Leave Half an Inch at the Front of the Shoe

There should be about half an inch between the end of your longest toe and the front of the shoe. If you have small hands, this is about the size of the tip of your index finger. If you have large hands, it's about the size of the tip of your pinky finger.

For many people the big toe is the longest. Some people have a longer second toe. Make sure you measure according to your longest toe.

Leave an Eighth of an Inch at the Back of the Shoe

Walk With Both Shoes On

Take your time and try on both shoes. Walk around the store in them. If the floors in the store have different surfaces like carpet and tile, try to walk on each of them.

The best way to try out new shoes is on a treadmill. This will keep the shoes clean and give you a chance to really try them out. Some shoe stores will let you do this. If you're not sure, ask.

Make sure you know the store's return policy. You may not be able to return shoes that have too much wear on them.

Shoes Should Be Immediately Comfortable

Shoes should be comfortable in the store or right out of the box. Do not buy uncomfortable shoes in the hope they will "break in." If the shoes you bought online aren't comfortable, return them.

Laced Shoes Are Easier to Fit

Shoes with laces are easier to adjust to your feet. They are also easier to keep on the feet.

Shoes without laces won't adjust when your feet swell. They are also harder to keep on the feet. This means your feet will have to work harder while wearing them.

High Heels Can Cause Foot Problems

To prevent foot problems, look for shoes with a lower heel. The heel height should be no more than 1.5 inches. Higher heels put a lot more pressure on the forefoot. This can lead to foot pain down the road.


Well-fitting shoes can help you avoid foot problems. Make sure you measure your feet often, since your foot size can change over time. Measure your feet later in the day and while standing. 

Look for shoes that fit your largest foot. Make sure there is space in the toe and at the heel. Shoes should be immediately comfortable.

Laced shoes will fit better. Heels may cause foot problems. When in doubt, visit a shoe store that offers professional fitting.

You do not want the back of the shoe to be too tight against your heel. This may cause skin irritation and blisters. It is okay to have about an eighth of an inch between the back of your heel and the shoe.