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Shoe shopping should be done in-person, not online

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Online shopping is a wonderful time saving tool that continues to grow in popularity. The convenience of being able to order the products you need at any time of day or night and have them shipped directly to your door is invaluable. However, when it comes to footwear, online shopping is rarely a good decision. 

Wearing properly-fitted footwear is important for your comfort, mobility and overall well being. Ill-fitting shoes can cause numerous problems including bunions, hammertoes, blisters and ulcerations as well as balance issues. In addition to proper fit, wearing the right type of shoe for your individual foot and biomechanics, lifestyle and daily activities is important. Only a professional shoe fitter who is able to see and measure your foot and discuss your lifestyle with you can accurately recommend the most appropriate type and size footwear for you.

Few people realize that our feet can change in size over time. As we age, our muscles and joints relax which can cause our feet to increase slightly in width or length. Aging, sports and lifestyle factors can also lead to the fat pads on the bottom of our feet becoming thinner and calluses, corns, bunions, hammertoes and other sensitive areas developing. All of these factors have a direct impact on the size and style of footwear you require. Having your feet professionally measured at least once a year is important as your shoe size may have changed even if your feet look and feel the same.

Regardless of whether your feet have changed sized, different brands of shoes fit differently. A size 7 may fit you perfectly in one brand of shoe but a 7.5 or 8 may provide the correct fit for another brand. You can only gauge a shoe’s fit and comfort by trying it on and walking around in it.

When you purchase shoes online, there is no opportunity to measure your feet accurately. Although some online retailers provide a sizing guide these are very general and cannot replicate in-personal, professional measuring. Compounding the sizing issue is the growing problem of vanity sizing. Like clothing manufacturers, some shoe manufacturers label larger products with smaller sizes, which makes it very challenging to order the right size.

Costly returns are another reason buying correct fitting footwear online is difficult. As online shoe retailers are continually searching for ways to decrease returns, they are increasingly selling shoes that are marginally larger than the requested size. Shoes that are too tight are returned but shoppers tend to keep shoes that are too big and use insoles or thick socks to improve the fit. Fast fashion has driven the demand for offshore, mass produced shoes. Although different populations have different shaped and sized feet, mass produced shoes are created for universal sizes. The result is footwear that doesn’t fit anyone well.

When it comes to footwear, save online shopping for the pair of shoes you only plan to wear occasionally. For all of your everyday needs, visit a local shoe retailer in your community and have your feet properly measured. If you are experiencing ongoing foot pain, have mobility issues or are living with diabetes or arthritis, book a full assessment with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist.

By Derek Gilmer, C. Ped (C), Ottawa, ON

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