Proper Shoe Fit

fitting a shoe

Finding shoes that fit the feet properly is incredibly important. If you or your patients require the use of foot orthotics, it is essential to ensure that shoes aid and complement the treatment, not negate it. If you notice your patient is wearing improper footwear, it is important to explain the effects of footwear when it comes to their foot health and the effectiveness of your prescribed treatment.


Whenever you prescribe a set of foot orthotics and your patients have questions about shoes, keep these tips handy for reference.


Here is what to look for:

  • Try to find shoes with a removeable insole, and those that advertise being orthotic-friendly. These have been designed specially with these features.
  • Toe box: this is the front part of the shoe where your toes lie. Ensure the toe box is wide and deep. This is especially important if your shoe does not have a removable insole to ensure your orthotic will fit inside and still leave room for your feet.
  • Size- try a shoe that is 1/2- 1 full size larger than your usual size. This ensures your orthotic and your foot have adequate space
  • Laces or straps are recommended that can give you a snug fit. The tongue should be only attached at the end, not along the side- this allows a more adjustable fit and will be easier to get in to. As well, a shoe that is too loose may encourage compensation, including toe clenching, which leads to other issues.
  • Heel counter- this is the material that hugs your heel. It should be firm in order to properly seat and secure the heel. Squeeze the sides together and check the firmness.
  • Forefoot rocker- shoes in which there is a slight raise in the forefoot/toe area are better than those where this part sits flat on the ground. This aids in proper and effective progression of the gait cycle.
  • Heel height- the best heel height may depend on your individual needs. Typically, a 1/2″ or less is preferred. Many times, a prescribed heel raise will be incorporated into your orthotics as opposed to the shoes.
  • Flexibility- shoes should be flexible enough to allow for normal motions of the foot and ankle, but firm enough to actually provide support.
  • Shape- With kids and adults, shoes should fit your foot shape. Forefoots are always wider than heels, and both feet and shoes come in a variety of widths. Many brands offer a variety of widths.
  • Widths available from narrow to wide (non-inclusive of custom made orthopedic footwear:
  • 2A, A, B, D, 2D, E, 2E, 4E. The standard width for women is B, the standard width for men is D.
  • Try on shoes at the end of the day, to accommodate any swelling or changes that naturally occur throughout the day.
  • Comfort: after all is said and done, you need a shoe that is comfortable, and that you will feel good wearing.
anatomy of a shoe

At Paragon, we are happy to manufacture our orthotics directly into shoes. If you send your patients footwear along with an order, we can create a perfect fit.


Click for a downloadable PDF of this reference list…

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