What Makes a Good Shoe?

Finding the right footwear is not always as easy as it should be. Ensuring the right length, width and style is hard enough – and then you actually need to like the appearance of the shoe too!

There are many considerations to take into account when finding the right footwear for you. We want your shoes to be functional and comfortable, as well as visually appealing. Here are some features to consider when looking for your next pair of shoes:

Image credit: https://www.totallyrunning.com/

Appropriate Width and Depth

Ensuring that the shoes are wide and deep enough to fit your foot is essential. When your footwear is too narrow it can squash your feet leading to callouses, corns, compressed nerves and even structural changes to the feet.

Appropriate length

Optimal fit for footwear is approximately 1cm (or 1 finger width) from the longest toe to the end of the shoe. You should also be able to slip your index finger between your heel and the back of the shoe. 

One of the most common things we see is people wearing shoes (especially athletic footwear) that are TOO SMALL. 


These shoes are TOO SMALL. You need 1cm, or more at the end of the shoe to make way for your toes and avoid toenail damage, blisters and compression problems

Correct fit, there should be ample room at the end of the shoe to ensure proper fit. Removing the insole from your athletic shoe and checking the length like this is a great way to identify if your shoes are the right length or not

Stable heel counter

The heel counter should feel firm when you press on it. If it collapses under your fingers, the shoe is too soft and unstable.

Flexible Sole

You should be able to bend slightly across the ball of your foot to compliment your natural gait cycle. The shoe should never be able to bend completely in half at the midfoot (as your foot doesn’t bend here!)


When a shoe has fixation – such as laces or velcro, it assists with keeping the shoe on your foot adequately and reduces slipping and moving in the shoe. When the shoe lacks fixation (eg thongs, slip on shoes) the small muscles in your foot are overused as they try to keep the shoe in place on the foot. Having fixation also makes the shoe adjustable to your own foot.

Small Heel Raise

A small raise in the heel is preferred to a completely flat shoe – but no higher than 1 inch (2.5cms). As soon as the height increases above this, this increases pressure in the ball of the foot, shortening of tendons and the ankle becomes less stable.

Arch support

Some medial arch support is essential to help support the structures within the arch of your foot, such as the plantar fascia and midtarsal joints. When your shoe is completely flat, it increases stress on these features and can lead to inflammation and degeneration of these structures.


If you are unsure whether your footwear is appropriate for you, our podiatrists are here to help assess your current footwear, and give you advice on what footwear would be most appropriate to wear in future. Feel free to bring a bag of your current footwear along to your next appointment for assessment. 

We also stock many fantastic footwear brands in the clinic such as Anodyne, Revere, Vionic and Scholl. If you are needing assistance in purchasing some new footwear, our team would be more than happy to help.

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