THE ULTIMATE SHOE FITTING AND LACING GUIDE
From February '97 Walking Magazine
©1996 Dave McGovern-Dave's World Class
Remember visiting the neighborhood shoe store when you were a kid? Mom
smiled proudly, easing your fears as the salesman measured your little feet with
a brannock device, then pinched the toes of each of the three or four pair you
tried on for the best fit. Remember your most recent trip to the shoe store? It
probably wasn't quite as memorable an experience.
No wonder 80% of Americans endure regular foot pain. Most people don't know
the first thing about finding a properly fitted shoe--and many shoe stores don't
offer very much help. If you've been experiencing "The Agony of Da Feet,"
follow these 5 easy steps before buying a new pair of walking shoes:
- 1.) Look for "The 3 Bs"--blisters, bunions and black
toenails. According to podiatrist Howard Palamarchuck, if your old shoes don't
fit properly you're likely to develop some of these painfully obvious signs.
Before buying a new pair, identify problem areas where shoes slip or bind,
leading to irritation.
- 2.) Have your feet measured. Dr. Palamarchuck believes it's important
that feet be measured at least once per year since they tend to elongate and
spread with age, and may also change size after foot surgery, pregnancy and
child bearing. Palamarchuck also notes that most people have one foot that's 1/2
to 1 size larger than the other, and recommends that shoes be bought to fit the
larger foot. The Athlete's Foot chain has led a resurgence in personal attention
by staffing each store with "Certified Fit Technicians" who are
specially trainined to select a shoe to conform to your unique foot size and
shape, activity level and comfort needs. Other chains are following their lead,
so find a store that will take the time to measure your feet.
- 3.) Know your foot type. Knowing your shoe size and width gives a
good two-dimensional picture of your foot. But your foot is a three-dimensional
object. According to Tom Brunick, director of the Athlete's Foot Wear-Test
Center, you can learn a lot about your feet from a simple "wet test."
Step into some water and then stand on a surface to leave an imprint of your
bare foot. The imprint will tell you if you have a flat, normal or a high-arched
foot. Make sure you select a shoe built to conform to your particular foot-type.
- 4.) Try on several brands and sizes. Veteran shoe designer Ian Whatley
notes that there are no industry-wide sizing standards, so measured size doesn't
guarantee your foot will fit a particular shoe. Whatley also noted that shoes
can vary up to 1 1/2 sizes even within brands, depending on shoe materials,
construction methods and manufacturing conditions. Try on several brands and
sizes to account for these differences. If a salesperson complains about making
several trips to the stockroom, take your business elsewhere.
- 5.) Go for a spin. According to Whatley, your fit in the shoe store is
a "static fit," but you need to know about "dynamic fit."
Before you buy, give your shoes a good test walk under "normal"
walking conditions. Whatley has several recommendations: Your feet tend to swell
when warmed up, so make sure to take a good walk before shopping; wear your
usual socks, since a thick sock can add 1/2 size to the length and 2 sizes to
your width; don't just walk on the store's carpeted floor--get out and walk on a
hard surface; and walk both slowly and quickly, and around turns to see how the
shoe interacts with your feet under these conditions.
Get to know your feet and what to look for in a shoe. Although you might not
find a pair of Buster Brown's in size 11-EEE, your feet will be so happy you may
still walk out of the store feeling like a kid again.
Foot size and type will largely determine how well your shoes fit, but not
entirely. According to Tom Brunick, director of the Athlete's Foot Wear Test
Center, many fit problems can be solved by adjusting the lacing system of the
shoes. The following are examples of lacing techniques designed to accomodate
various fitting needs:
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