Many of my patients claim their shoes are comfortable, but in the same breath they tell me their feet hurt. If your feet hurt, your shoes can't possibly be doing the best job!
The best way to check to see if your shoes are supportive enough is to put the shoe through these three tests. Check out my video for additional details on supportive shoes.
- Test #1: You should not be able to push the heel counter (the back cup of the shoe) down into the shoe, and you shouldn't be able to squeeze the sides of the heel together. The heel counter is a major player in stabilizing the back of your foot and your ankle.
- Test #2: You should not be able to "wring" or "twist" the center of your shoe. Many styles--like Converse or most ballet flats--have no solid shank in the shoe. The shank is the firm part of your shoe that runs from your heel to the ball of your foot. This is another major player in the supportiveness of your shoe.
- Test #3: If you try to bend the shoe from front to back, it should only bend at the widest part of the shoe. This should correspond to the widest part of your foot--the joints in the ball of your foot. This is the major place your foot bends, so it should be the ONLY place your shoe bends. If the shoe bends anywhere else, you're asking for your foot to bend there, too, which can contribute to pain and "tired" feelings in your feet by the end of your day.
An addendum to Test #3 is that your shoe should fit properly. If the widest part of your foot does not correspond to the widest part of your shoe, your shoe is the wrong size. You should be able to feel the large knuckle at the base of your big toe at the widest part of your shoe when you're standing. (The "when you're standing" part of that sentence is also very important--you need to be bearing weight for this test.) Most people check to see how far their toes go in the shoe to determine the size, but it's much better to rely on the heel-to-ball length.
If you have a pair of shoes you think will pass these tests, bring them in to your visit with you so we can check them out together, and see if you need any additional support (like orthotics).