Shopping successfully for orthopedic shoes requires a little research and strategy.
Know your purpose and foot condition. Talk to your podiatrist. Your doctor can give you shopping guidelines on factors like heel height, width or shoe flexibility. And consider the activities you’ll be doing when you wear the shoe. You may be looking for orthopedic walking shoes or shoes to help with balance problems.
Buy in person or be certain of the return policy. An internet search can help you figure out where to buy orthopedic shoes in your area, but don’t order online, if possible. You need to try on shoes to make sure they fit properly. Ideally, you should go to a store that carries a variety of styles. But if you must order online, double-check the company’s return policies before you buy. A size chart and a customer service representative can help, too, whether you’re looking for casual footwear or the best walking shoes.
Shop and try on shoes in the late afternoon or evening. Feet can swell throughout the day, so it’s best to shop toward the end of the day to avoid a tight fit.
Check the fit. Feet can grow as we age, and our feet can be different sizes, too, so it’s a good idea to have both feet measured each time you buy new shoes. Stand while being measured, as your body weight makes your feet expand.
Once you’re trying on shoes, it pays to be nitpicky. You should have a half-inch of space between your longest toe and the tip of the shoe. Look for any areas that may rub.
“Pay special attention to the bony prominences of the foot and the ankle bones,” says Ware. “Senior skin is very thin.”
He also suggests avoiding shoes that are too roomy. Too much space can cause excessive movement, and that friction can lead to a sore.
The right shoe won’t need to be stretched by a salesperson or broken in once you get them home.
Don’t go cheap. You don’t need the most expensive shoes—you need the best shoes for you. Well-made shoes can be an investment, but they can often be resoled and repaired, so you can wear them for years to come.