The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Consumer Reports Points to Common Trend: Wrong Shoe Size Causes Chronic Foot Pain

Posted by on Tuesday, March 25th, 2014


Foot pain can be due to all sorts of reasons, including footwear that does not fit properly. Ill-fitting shoes are a big problem in America. A recent study from the Institute for Preventive Foot Health found that 78% of adults have encountered foot pain at some point — usually due to shoes that are too tight, too small, too large, too high, or too floppy. Consumer Reports notes that a shoe size problem is actually quite easy to fix.

small shoes
If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably guilty of wearing at least one pair of shoes that are too small!
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Do You Know Your Correct Shoe Size?

Did you know that most people wear shoes that are half a size too large or small? In fact, 12% of Americans may be wearing shoes improperly sized by 1.5 sizes or more, says Consumer Reports.

A study of older individuals conducted by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society concluded that 8 in 10 were wearing shoes that were too narrow, and 7 in 10 women develop bunions, hammertoes, or other foot deformities from their ill-fitting footwear.

Why Do We Choose the Wrong Shoe Size?

As we get older, our ligaments and tendons stretch out, our arches fall flatter, and the soles of our feet lose padding. Weight gain or pregnancy may cause the feet to widen. In fact, experts say that people over 40 can gain half a shoe size every decade. Yet, many of us continue to buy the same shoe size year after year.

Foot Problems Caused by Shoe Size

Loose shoes can cause falls, blisters, calluses, ulcers, or painful injuries elsewhere in the body, as you begin to take shorter, more irregular strides.

Pointy, cramped toe boxes can cause a painful lump on the edge of your toe known as a “bunion.” Over time, the other toes may curl up to fit inside the narrow space, causing the other four toes to become “hammer toes.”

Heels that are too high can make the Achilles tendon shorten, which often leads to plantar fasciitis heel pain and neuroma nerve pain on the balls of the feet.

Shoes that lack adequate arch support and cushioning can also cause plantar fasciitis.

How to Buy Properly-Fitting Shoes

Consumer Reports recommends measuring your feet regularly, especially at the end of the day when they are most swollen. Size your shoes to the larger of your two feet. Avoid shoes with extremely high heels (that are over 2.5 inches tall) or narrow toe boxes. When ordering online, look for companies that offer free returns, and order several sizes to ensure the best fit. Look for podiatrist-recommended brands that feature better support and wider toe boxes.

Podiatrist-Recommended Shoes

The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) found that the podiatrists in their network largely recommended New Balance shoes to their patients (64%). In fact, many podiatrists choose to wear these shoes themselves. Another 25% of podiatrists prefer Nike footwear. For dress shoes, they recommend Rockport or SAS. According to the AOFAS survey, 76% of podiatrists are familiar with formal guidelines for proper shoe fit, but just over half (56%) educate their patients about shoe choice.

We are happy to discuss shoe choice and fit at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in Manhattan and White Plains, New York. We can also examine your feet for any damage that has occurred due to ill-fitting footwear, and recommend treatment, if necessary. You may book your appointment with us online or by phone.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.