Selecting proper footwear

Kevin Fraser, a Certified Pedorthist at Sunnybrook Centre for Independent Living (SCIL), shares some tips for selecting proper footwear for you and your children.

#1: Try them on. Manufacturers may use different sizing scales when making shoes. Your shoe size in one brand may be different in another brand. So, be sure to try always try on shoes before purchasing. Be sure you try on both the right and left shoe as your feet may be slightly different in size.

#2: Don’t do the twist. Choose a shoe with a stable base and outsole (that’s the bottom part of the shoe). Make sure it doesn’t twist or bend other than at the toe break. Look for support around the heel and laces or a strap that can be adjusted.

#3: Keep an eye on your kids’ feet. It’s undeniable: Kids grow out of their shoes so fast. But, if a child’s shoes are too short the toe box of the shoe can crowd the toes together which can lead to injury of the toe nails (ingrown nails), clawing of the toes (hammer toe, claw toe, or mallet toe deformity), or early bunion deformity.

If the shoes are too large, the toe break of the shoe can be positioned incorrectly leading to an altered walking (gait) pattern or trips/falls.

To size a child’s shoe correctly there should be approximately 5mm of space between the longest toe and the end of the shoe, or the width on your little finger behind the heel.

#4: Rotate! (especially if you get sore feet). Rotate your footwear so that you are not wearing the same pair of shoes day in and day out. If you find that one type of shoe relieves the foot pain than wear that type more frequently than the others.

#5: No need to empty your wallet. 

  • More expensive does not necessarily equal better. Look for shoes that fit the recommendations above, regardless of price.
  • Shoes made of synthetic materials may be cheaper, but wear out quicker than leathers, forcing replacement faster.
  • For children, spending a fortune on top quality shoes that they quickly grow out of may not be the best choice, but ill-fitting or poorer-made shoes can also cost you more. Look for reasonably priced shoes that fit properly.
  • Look for sales!


Kevin Fraser is a Certified Pedorthist at the Sunnybrook Centre for Independent Living (SCIL). He specializes in non-surgical management of the foot and ankle. For more information about the services available at SCIL, please visit sunnybrook.ca/holland.

About the author


Alexis Dobranowski

Alexis Dobranowski is a Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.

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