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Footwear that is too large or too small or does not fit properly can cause lifelong foot problems, which are often easily avoided by following a few simple pieces of advice.

Foot measuring device

The following advice details the main features to look for when purchasing footwear:

  • Always have both feet measured for length and width. Remember that your foot is not a two dimensional object with just a length and width. It is three dimensional with a measurement around the foot, called the girth. This measurement is very important in Turner syndrome, if your feet swell due to lymphoedema you should always make sure that the shoe fits your foot in every direction and will be able to be adjusted to allow for swelling.
  • Never purchase footwear in shops where you are refused foot measuring or it is not offered in the first place.
  • Unless absolutely necessary it is best to avoid slip-on shoes or sling-backs. Shoes should be held on the foot with either laces, straps or velcro. It is also best to avoid slip-on shoes held on with elastic as this can cause problems if your feet swell.
  • Heel height should be no more than 4cm with a broad base, and certainly not stiletto.
  • Leather materials are best for the uppers. Synthetic materials e.g. nylon, plastic, rubber can cause the foot to sweat which may increase the likelihood of contracting athlete’s foot or verrucae and may also make you more prone to ingrowing toenails, particularly if your nails are increased in curvature.
  • The shape of the toe box of the shoe should be the same shape as your foot and allow the toes to move freely and not be squashed from the top or the sides.
  • The shoes should fit exactly around the heel without being loose or tight. The side of the heel should also be firm to support the foot.
  • Fashion shoes are OK for special occasions but it is best to wear more sensible shoe for regular everyday wear.
  • Remember that socks and tights, which are too small, can cause similar problems to shoes that are too small, particularly in very young children.
  • Pay particular attention to the size of knitted bootees, sleepsuits and babygros for babies and avoid pram shoes.

Prepared for the TSSS by Gordon Watt, Senior Lecturer in Podiatry, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow.


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