Have your favorite pair of shoes long since passed their prime?
A good rule of thumb: Look at the bottom of your shoes. Is the tread worn? Are there smooth places (especially around the heel) where the tread is worn smooth? Just like tires on your car, shoe tread wears down and as this occurs the shoe provides less traction and support.
Most people wear shoes that are too small! Remember, your feet change their shape and size as you age and your shoe size increases. Make sure to get a professional fitting to determine your current shoe size. The best time to shop for shoes is later in the day as your feet swell as the day progresses. The shoe should have a fit that feels comfortable from the first wearing. Don’t make the mistake of assuming the shoe will stretch or loosen up if it feels too tight when you try it on. Make sure to remember the “rule of thumb.” A thumb’s width of space should be available between the end of the longest toes and the end of the shoe. If you feel the shoe rubbing against the side of the little toe, you should try a “wide” size.
Check the Bottoms
A good pair of shoes offer traction but should not be slick or smooth. Don’t get an overly aggressive shoe bottom as those can catch or drag on the floor and cause you to fall. Avoid shoes with smooth leather or plastic soles which can be slippery on most surfaces.
Avoid shoes with a “Rocker” Bottom
Advertised as the “firm up as you walk shoe,” these can cause you to be very unstable and lose your balance.
Synthetics are often cheaper, but leather and canvas allow feet to breath, which can reduce skin irritations.
Hold the shoe in your hands and try to twist it. If it twists easily and offers little resistance, it will also offer little to no support to your feet.
Shoes with lower heels and wider floor contact are associated with the lowest number of falls.
Avoid Slip-On Shoes
Lace-up or strap-on shoes offer the most support.
The All Around Winner
Canvas sneakers or athletic shoes (walking shoes). They are breathable, light weight, flexible, low, secure, and wide soled. In one analysis of older wearers, canvas sneakers caused fewer falls than boots, sandals, high heels, slippers or going barefoot.
Want to Prevent a Fall?
Studies have shown that older adults who wore slippers, socks or went barefoot at home were at greater risk for falls as compared with those who wore shoes inside the house.
Next time your children ask what to get you for your birthday or Christmas, tell them to take you shoe shopping!