How to find the perfect shoe for your foot shape

If you struggle to find shoes that fit comfortably, it’s most likely due to the shape of your feet not matching the shoe style.

UK podiatrist, Emma Supple, has established what she calls the Cinderella Test to help you determine the best style of shoe to fit your foot shape. Here are the different foot types and recommended shoe styles:

Model feet

These are some of the rarest types of feet, mainly because they are perfect. If your big toe is longer than your second toe, and the rest of your toes descend in height in a perfect downward curve, plus you have a good arch, you have ‘rectus’ feet. This means they are normal, with no distinct abnormalities.

Model feel can comfortably wear low, sturdy block heels, as the heel is in the perfect position to support the heel of the foot. But you should rotate your shoe pairs to ease pressure points.

Big toe that won’t bend

If you have big toes that don’t bend as you walk, it’s known as a functional hallux limitus (FHL). People with FHL find it uncomfortable to walk on hard, flat surfaces.

Thin-soled shoes are a disaster for this foot type, as they painfully force the big toe to bend. Instead, opt for wedges, because they don’t ask your big toe joint to bend. Lace-ups such as brogues are also good because of their stiff sole and a minimum heel height, to give the optimum support for your feet.

Flat feet

If you tend to waddle a little as you walk, you probably have flat feet (pes planus), or fallen arches. The suppleness and flexibility of flat feet mean you can slip them into any type of shoe with ease. However, contrary to many other types of feet, flat shoes are not for you.

Too flat a shoe matched with too flat a foot on too flat a surface can equal pains and strains in the joints and tendons. Wearing flat shoes force this foot type to turn outwards and walk at a 10-to-2 position, hence you start waddling.

Any shoe with a low heel is best for flat feet because the heel catches the foot as you step, which prevents you from tilting too much.

High arches

If you struggle to get your shoes on and off, there’s a good chance you have high arches (pes cavus). This means the middle part of your foot (the bridge) is very high and doesn’t move.

You can often tell you have a high arch just by looking or check out your footprints in the sand. You’ll just see toes and heels. It can mean that an excessive amount of weight is placed on the ball and heel of your foot when walking or standing.

Comfortable shoes are best for high arches. Look for shoes that open up, so you can get your foot into the shoe, then fasten back up. Laces and velcro are good. While not the most glamorous, you can find some cool trainers or hiking shoes.

Long second toes

A long second toe is known as the Greek Foot, or Morton’s Toe. As many as one in five people have longer second toes, which is a good thing because a long, strong second toe can help the big toe do its job properly.

You can wear pointy shoes as they won’t pinch your feet. They suit your foot shape well, giving plenty of space to that protruding second toe. Heel height isn’t an issue either, just choose what’s comfortable.

Narrow feet

The difficulty with skinny feet is finding shoes that your feet stay in as you walk. Many people try to put up with their toes permanently curled up, in a vain effort to keep their shoes on. This is a bad habit and can lead to blisters, as well as pain in the small bones in your toes and feet.

Look for narrow fittings with straps, laces or buckles to keep the shoes safely on your feet, and wear the heel height that’s most comfortable. Make sure the shoe is the correct length for your foot too.

Bunions

Painful and often unsightly, they are bony, painful lumps that can affect any foot type and are an inherited condition. The shape and structure of feet run in families – excuse the pun. You need to wear wider-fitting shoes to avoid aggravating your bunions.