Foot-Shoe Mismatches Can Be a Major Cause of Foot Injury & Decreased Performance Ability
Appropriate shoe fit is a requirement for foot comfort and optimal performance in any sport.  The medical literature, including a recent study by Harrison, examined correct shoe sizing in patients who have diabetes.  In this study, 2/3 of the patients were wearing shoes that were incorrectly sized for their feet.  Due to the incorrect size of their shoes, 45% of the patients in the study reported previous foot problems including ulcers, calluses, bunions, corns, and swelling.

So what is correct shoe sizing?  This involves appreciating correct width at the heel as well as the forefoot, length from the heel to the toes -- either to the great toe or second toe, whichever is longer.  Depth of the shoe is dependent on arch height and rigidity.  The width at the heel should be snug to insure stability to the foot, wide at the forefoot to allow for motion and a length that does not impinge the toes.  Additionally, the innersole should mirror the shape of the arch when standing.

Now the problem!  Shoes are not sized like pants or belts. They are sized more like dresses in that each manufacturer has their own sizing system.  Size 9 from one manufacturer may be an 8 ½ from another or a 9½ from a third.  Additionally widths are inconsistent, with only a few manufacturers offering shoes with width sizing in addition to length. Sizing from each manufacturer generally stays more consistent if purchases are made with the same manufacturer; however, different styles within each manufacturer may have sizing differences

To help with sizing Holabird Sports offers the Shoefitr option, which is very helpful when transitioning from a current comfortable manufacturer's sizing scheme to new shoe from another manufacturer or a new style from the same manufacturer. The Shoefitr program facilitates significant sizing improvements by utilizing the individuality of each manufacturers unique sizing.  Do not be surprised if your size changes a half size when transitioning from your current comfortable shoe to a new shoe from a different manufacturer or a different style from the same manufacturer.

Once you are wearing correctly sized shoes you should see a noticeable improvement in comfort and performance. The foot will be allowed to function optimally.  There will be decreased areas of increased pressure or rubbing, decreased sliding of the foot within the shoe that create impingement at the toes, and foot biomechanics that will encourage optimal performance.

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About Dr. Jay LeBow

For 29 years, Dr. Jay LeBow ran a medical and surgical foot and ankle care clinical practice. He was recruited to be Team Podiatrist for the Baltimore Orioles, a position he has held for the past 20 years. Dr. LeBow is also the Footwear Medical Consultant for Under Armour. He was appointed by Governor Martin O'Malley to serve on the Maryland Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners and then voted to serve as President. In addition, Dr. LeBow works as a consultant to the FDA General and Plastic Surgery Devices Panel.

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