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Footwear Feature Advice

Updated: July 2017

What's the best shoe for you?

See this blog for information on shoe brands and stores.

General Footwear Buying Advice:

  • If you've worn a shoe that was supportive and comfortable, try to buy the same or similar brand and model again.

  • Check your old shoes before shopping for new ones.

  • Bumps in the upper show where there is not enough room for your toes and the shoe leaning in or out may mean you may need a different shoe or different features.

  • Always try both shoes on and walk around in them and if possible on hard flooring not carpet before buying.​

  • The best shoe for you may not be the best for someone else depending on your foot shape and function.

  • If possible wear new shoes for short periods of time or alternate with other shoes you wear.

Footwear Features and Tests:

Sole flex

The shoe should bend where your foot bends (at the ball of the foot)

Heel counter

The heel counter (back of the shoe) should be firm when you push on it with your thumb


A lace up shoe holds the heel against the heel counter, supports the middle of your foot and allows for any difference in size between your feet. Laces are best with a minimum of 3 pairs of eyelets. Velcro straps and buckles are also options.

Twist between the forefoot and rearfoot

Hold the forefoot in one hand and the rearfoot in the other and twist both hands in the opposite direction. The shoe shouldn't twist very much.

Shoe length, width and depth (check when standing)

There should be a thumb width beyond the longest toe to the end of the shoe.

The upper should not hang out over the sole or feel too tight across the ball of your foot.

The front of the shoe should be deep enough to allow room for the top of your foot and toes, especially if you have claw or hammer toes.

Toebox shape

The shape of your shoe around the end of your toes shouldn't be pointed. Round or square following the shape of your toes is more comfortable.

Heel height and width

As the heel height increases above 2.5cm (1 inch) the pressure increases under the ball of your foot and toes, your calf and Achilles tendon become shorter and your ankle joint becomes more unstable.

The wider the heel on the ground (same width as the heel counter), the more stable your ankle joint becomes.

Footwear assessment photos:

Barton CJ, et al, "Development and evaluation of a tool for the assessment of footwear characteristics," 2009.


Inform Podiatry develops information sheets to provide general advice. Please see Inform Podiatry for an individual assessment, diagnosis and management plan for your condition.

Know someone with foot or ankle pain?

I would love to help them.

Inform Podiatry

Phone: 1300 602 674

Fax: 07 3041 0346

52 Isedale St Wooloowin QLD 4030

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