By Patricia Staszak, PT
Deciding what shoe to wear is an important decision and one that we talk about with patients all the time.  Shoes support and balance your body above your feet.  They should be flexible enough so you can walk with a normal gait pattern, but should also provide support for your feet. 
Support can come from a number of characteristics in the shoe:  

  • Last:  The shape of the sole can provide support.  Basically; the wider the last, the more potential for support in the shoe.  
  • Sole: It is a very important piece in the overall support of the shoe.  The sole should fit and support your foot, but still be flexible enough for you to be able to roll through your foot and push off the front of your foot with each step.
  • Laces: The laces act to pull and tighten the shoe up so the whole shoe provides support.
  • Backstrap:  Shoes and sandals should have a backstrap to stabilize the heel when walking.  Again, allowing for a normal gait pattern. 
  • In addition, the toe box in the front of the shoe should be wide enough so the front of the foot does not get compressed, and the shoe should fit well and feel comfortable.  If the shoe is not comfortable, it is not the right shoe for you. 

The good news is that more and more shoes provide the above criteria. It is much easier to get a supportive yet (mostly) fashionable  shoe.  It takes a little research and some patience to find something that will support your feet.  And, as your feet get stronger your feet will tolerate wearing shoes that are less supportive. 
Here are a few that we like at APT.  This list is not exhaustive, but hopefully when you look at shoes you will now be able to tell what shoe is best for your feet.  If you find one that you think fits the above criteria, send us a picture and we will pass it on. 
You can also note what is not on the list:  Flip flops, clogs, shoes with rounded bottoms, shoes with no support and heels!  These are OK for occasional use, but they do not work well for prolonged walking.

Archipedico (Women’s) 
This shoe looks flimsy, but the arch is surprisingly firm and supportive.  The absence of laces reduces the support, but for a cute, low profile shoe they provide moderate support.

Wolky #1 (Women’s)
This shoe has a wide toe box, firm sole, and good arch support. It does not have laces, but has good support for a dressier, yet comfortable, shoe.

Wolky #2 (Women’s)
This shoe has a slightly firmer sole than the first Wolky style, and a slightly smaller toe box.  This is a very supportive shoe and excellent for everyday wear.

Clarks (Men’s)
Men’s dress shoe. It has a rubber sole for good shock absorbtion and good rearfoot support, but is flexible front of shoe.  This may be too flexible for someone who needs a lot of control.

Rockport (Men’s)
This men’s Casual Shoe has good support and control.  It has a wide toe box. solid arch support, and the laces provide additional support.

Finn (Pictured: Women’s)*
Excellent leather orthopedic shoe.  Over time it feels like an old glove – the laces make it feel part of your foot.  Good arch support and flexible, yet supportive sole.  This shoe is a little on the flexible side so you need strong feet to wear it comfortably.  It also fits a narrow foot and is very expensive. 
*Also available in Mens

Olukai (Pictured: Women’s)* 
This is a new generation shoe. It is simple, yet has a very supportive arch and feel very cushiony.  It has a wide toe box 
and gains additional support from the lacing system.

Chaco (For Men or Women)
This sandal is great for walking and supportive enough to use for summer hikes.  It has a backstrap, good arch support, and a very firm, supportive sole.

New Balance 993 (For Men or Women)
This is actually a running shoe, but it has a great combination of support and cushioning.  Easy to find and very popular shoe for walking.