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The next time you slide your feet into your favorite pair of loafers or sling pumps, consider this: Research suggests that about 70 percent of us are wearing shoes that don't properly accommodate either the width or length of our feet.
The reason, says Ray Margiano, CEO of Foot Solutions, a footwear and orthotics franchise, is in the way we shop — and the fact that adults often pull the wrong shoes off the rack from the get-go. The result can be discomfort after checkout — and pain that goes beyond tortured toes. “Our feet are the foundation of our body,” he explains. “Poor body alignment, caused by a misalignment of the feet, can impact the knees, hips, lower and upper back and even the neck.” Here's how to a better fit for the long haul.
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Go to an actual store
Sure, picking out shoes on the internet is quick and easy, but it's important to try on footwear the old-school way — in a store — rather than dropping a pair into your virtual shopping cart. Adam Stuhlfaut, owner of Shoes-n-Feet, a specialty shoe retailer in Bellevue, Washington, is a big believer in his kind of store. “Shopping for shoes is like finding a mechanic for your car,” he says. “Look for a smaller, local business, where the fitters are trained and experienced.” They should take the time to work with you and have a conversation about your lifestyle: What is your typical day like? Do you spend a lot of time outdoors — pounding the pavement, or live in a carpeted residence in a senior living community?
Get your feet measured
"A lot of people tend to be locked into one size,” says Margiano. “We deal with women all the time who are trying to fit their feet into the same size shoe they wore in college, insisting their feet haven't changed.” But change they do. “There are lots of ligaments in our feet, holding those 26 bones tightly together,” says Beth Gusenoff, a podiatric surgeon in the Department of Plastic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. “As we age, we lose elasticity in the ligaments and our feet spread out.”