How to Choose Shoes That Don’t Hurt

It’s not often I get health tips from my mother – normally it’s the other way round, but I loved this tip she picked up at a recent Woman’s Institute talk which claims to help you pick shoes that don’t hurt – and can do it before you’ve forked out your cold hard cash (or at least before you end up in a stand-up only bar on a Saturday night out grimacing in pain)..

It came from a foot specialist called Jim Leigh who runs the Foot Rescue clinics in Christchurch, Dorset. He says if you want to tell if a pair of shoes are going to hurt your feet before you buy them, draw round your foot, take the template with you and place the shoe on it. The more places your drawing hangs over the shoe at any point, the greater your chance of pain.

I have mutant buniony feet, and a love of high pointy shoes, so I tried it with my shoe collection. It really works. The wedges I can wear all day had no overhang. The rest? Well that explained why I spend a lot of time in taxis.

However, Jim’s tip isn’t the only trick that can help you choose shoes that don’t hurt. I came across another tip recently from podiatrist Emma Supple who claims she has come up with a formula that allows you to find the more comfortable heel height for your feet. She claims that the flexibility of a bone within the foot called the talus is what determines whether or not you can wear high heels. The more mobile it is the higher the heel you can bear. Interestingly, it also means that some women should never wear completely flat shoes and instead need some degree of a heel to be perfectly comfortable. I admit I can’t explain the formula better than the article in which I first read it so I’ll send you there to find out exactly how to do it – you’ll need a ruler, a pencil and a friend willing to sit by your feet for a few minutes.

Main image: geishaboy500 / photo on flickr


  1. Sally Brown

    How useful! Do you think there’s any mileage in a regular ‘advice from Helen’s mum’ blog???

    1. healthehelen

      Please do not encourage her, she’ll want a fee. Although anything you need to know about medications to calm your dog, she’s your woman.

      Reply this thing on? Talk to me, it's lonely down here

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