Keep Your Balance with a Good Pair of Shoes

Falls can happen for a number of reasons; tripping, slipping on ice, or simply being less steady on your feet. As we age our risk of being seriously injured in a fall increases. We can’t avoid certain changes to our bodies, but we can do something to prevent and safe guard against injury. One way to help improve balance is by finding the right pair of shoes.

Keeping the following guidelines in mind when shopping for shoes will help ensure that you are selecting a shoe that fits, and will help increase stability.

Every time you shop for shoes, have your feet professionally measured. Aging and certain medical conditions can cause the size of your foot to change. Always measure both feet and shop for the size of the larger foot.

If you anticipate wearing socks with the shoes, bring those shopping with you. You will want to make sure you get the right size with the socks.

If possible, walk around the store a little bit. Check if they are supportive, the right size and offer comfort and stability. If you are unsteady or they don’t feel right, don’t buy them. Despite popular belief, you cannot “break in” a shoe. If it doesn’t fit right from the beginning, it will be doing more harm than good.

Look for the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance. These seals are granted to footwear brands and products that promote good foot health.

Periodically inspect your shoes for signs of wear. Even a good pair of shoes will eventually start showing signs of wear. You may be able to have your shoes repaired to extend their life instead of buying a brand new pair.

To test the wear in your shoes:

  • Press on both sides of the heal making sure that the heal is stiff and won’t collapse
  • Bend the shoe to check the toe flexibility. The toe box, the area from the ball of your feet to the end of your toes, should not be too stiff, but should also not be too flexible.
  • Twist the shoe in the same motion as if you are wringing out a towel. The shoe should not twist in the middle near the arch.

If you need help choosing supportive shoes, talk to a podiatrist. They can recommend styles and brands of shoes that can provide stability and balance, and reduce the risk of falling.