FEET AND SHOES
Proper shoes can lead to pain-free mobility, can
reduce the potential for some foot problems, can assist in the correction of some foot
problems, can help the individual stay active, and may reduce the risk of falls. When
should the older adult buy a pair of new shoes? Here are some criteria an older adult can
use when selecting the appropriate foot wear:
- What is the condition of your current shoes?
Check the wear pattern and slipperiness of the soles as well as the inside of the shoe for
- Are you very active? Walking shoes or other
leisure activity shoes may be more appropriate for regular activities.
- Can you afford to have more than one pair of
shoes? If it is financially feasible, several pairs of shoes allow you to alternate among
them. This helps to prevent callus formation that can lead to imbalance and falling.
- Do you wear open-back shoes or open-back
house slippers? Such footwear can be hazardous and cause falls.
- What is the condition of your feet? Calluses
or pressure areas can cause pressure or rubbing.
- Do your feet swell? Shop for all the shoes
in the afternoon when swelling usually occurs. This can decrease the chance of buying
shoes that become too tight with swelling.
- How do the feet feel inside the shoe?
Numbness in feet and/or toes can indicate improperly fitting shoes.
- Is the shoe wide enough? Purchase shoes that
are wide enough to accommodate the foot. A shoe that is too narrow can cause calluses or
the toes to overlap. Proper fitting shoes minimize pressure or rubbing on the skin.
- Is the shoe long enough? If the toes butt up
against the front of the shoe, it is too short. The shoe should be long enough to allow a
finger width between the end of the great toe and the end of the shoe. When squeezing the
shoe at the base of the toes, a slight give should occur prior to feeling the base of the
- Is the shoe high enough? The depth of the
shoe should be high enough to accommodate the front of the foot, without excessive
- Do the shoes have sufficient padding? There
should be sufficient padding inside the shoes. The soles, in particular, should be
cushioned adequately to decrease heel pain.
- Are the soles excessively slick, slippery,
or grippy? Soles that are excessively slick or slippery,
opposite, too grippy can cause falls. A crepe sole is one recommendation
because it also absorbs the shock.
- Are the heels too high or too low? In
general, high-heels should be avoided. One-half an inch is an ideal height for a heel.
However, when an older adult wears high-heels all of the time the calf muscles become
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Web version 1.5 ©1999 Fall Prevention Project
Last Revised 330/04 RAN