Select Well-Fitting Athletic Shoes for Less Foot Pain

Athletic shoes that fit

September 24, 2018

Clinical Contributors to this story:

Proper shoe lacing is just one of many simple things you can do to safeguard your feet while you put them through the demands of an athletic workout.  Simply lacing your shoes or sneakers properly, along with choosing a shoe that fits your foot correctly, can add comfort to your stride and prevent foot injuries.

Improper fit and a poor lacing method are a dangerous combination. They can cause a variety of foot ailments, from blisters and hammertoes to foot disorders that are potentially disabling.  Forget what you may have been told about buying snug-fitting athletic shoes that will break in with time.  If the shoes don’t fit comfortably the first time you try them on, put them back and try on another pair.  If possible, try on athletic shoes right after you’ve done the activity for which you’re buying the shoes.  This is best since exercise makes your feet swell and will change the fit.  Try running or walking to the shoe store or go to the shoe store at the end of the day, because that’s when your feet will be their largest from all the walking and standing you’ve done.

While at the store follow a few tips to ensure your fit:

  • Buy a shoe one-half inch longer than your longest toe.
  • The forefoot should not be crowded.
  • Be sure your toes can extend, and that there’s a snug fit around the heel of the shoe.
  • Stand when your feet are measured.
  • Also, keep in mind, in many people, one foot is larger than the other.  Shoes should be fitted to your longer and wider foot.

Almost as important as correct sizing is properly lacing your shoes.  Loosen the laces as you try on the shoes. This prevents stress on the eyelets and the backs of the shoes.  Always begin with the eyelets closest to your toes and pull the laces using one set of eyelets at a time to tighten the shoes.  This prevents stress at the tops of the shoes and helps get a better fit.  Be aware that shoes with more eyelets allow a more custom fit.  The old standby method of lacing — crisscross to the top of the shoe — works best for most athletic shoe wearers.  Lace any eyelets closer to the tongue of the shoe for wide feet.  This allows greater width to the lacing area.

A narrow heel and wider forefoot is a common problem among women.  Consider using two laces for a combination fit.  Use the closer set of eyelets to adjust the width of the shoe at the forefoot, and the wider set to snug up the heel to prevent the heel from moving up and down or sliding back and forth.

With properly fitting and correctly laced shoes you’ll be ready for exercising and activities while protecting your feet and preventing foot pain.


The material provided through Health Hub is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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