July 11, 2019 at 05:00AM by CWC
When I was younger, I subscribed to the philosophy that high heels were the only acceptable footwear choice—even when it was snowing out. Younger me never could have imagined a world in which I would be wearing sneakers on a first date. (Younger me also never could have imagined a world in which I hadn’t met my soulmate by 28, but here we are.) One of the only good things about living in the year 2019 is that it is now fashionable to wear comfortable shoes, like sneakers and sandals and other footwear sans heels.
Regardless, shoe shopping is one of my favorite pastimes, right up there with posting videos of other people’s dogs on my IG stories and obsessing over if my crush is going to text me. And even though I consider myself a pro (in all of these categories), it turns out that there are a few things I’m doing wrong as far as selecting the right footwear goes.
For starters: I’m probably wearing the wrong shoe size. And you are too. Dr. Cary Gannon, podiatric surgeon and founder of Aila Cosmetics, says that about 90 percent of the people who come into her office are wearing shoes that are two sizes too small. “As we get older, our feet increase in size in size and shape, and so our foot size increases,” Gannon says. “We continually go and purchase the same size, but we forget that as we age kind of everything about our body changes… a ton of foot pathology is actually manageable or corrected by just putting people in the right size shoe.” Damn. I thought wearing the right size shoe was one of those given adult skills, like knowing how to bake a chicken breast.
And Dr. Doug Tumen, author of Ask the Foot Doctor: Real-Life Answers to Enjoy Happy, Healthy, Pain-Free Feet, says that it’s best to go shoe shopping at the end of the day, because our feet swell during the day. “So if you shop late in the day, it’s more likely to be the true size of your foot,” he explains. Go figure.
Once you’ve established that you’re wearing the correct size of shoe, there are some other podiatrist-approved tests you can do to make sure that the shoes you pick are going to be good for your feet. Tumen says that when shopping for shoes, you should do “the pinch test,” “the accordion test,” “the sponge test,” and “the wiggle test.” The pinch test is where you squeeze the heel of the shoe with your fingers—if it can be pinched together, it’s not going to be supportive. “The accordion test is where you hold the shoe and you try from heel to toe to bend it in half. And if it folds right in half, it is not well supported,” Tumen explains. You also shouldn’t be able to wring the shoe like a sponge. “And then lastly is what I call the wiggle task, where you want to have room for your toes to move about the cabin, so to speak,” he explains.
And, because I am a little petty, I definitely asked him about flip flops to support my thesis that they are The Worst. He confirms that flip flops are not good for your feet. “My advice is to avoid flip flops and get into sandals. And there are a lot of great sandals on the market nowadays,” Tumen says. I feel vindicated.
“Hey listen, you’ve got a mandate now to go buy all these shoes. Nobody can say anything to you because the doctor is literally telling you to spend money on shoes,” Gannon says. You literally do not need to tell me twice. Here, shop a selection of shoes from these podiatrist-approved brands.