Do you every feel like Goldie Locks when shoe shopping? An activity that is supposed to be “fun” for girls usually turns into a chore and anything less than a fairytale.  When I was younger (and occasionally now if I think the shoe is really cute, momentarily black out, and forget everything I tell my patients) I’d buy a shoe that felt OK in the store and looked AMAZING, but then when I would actually wear them, the reality of the shoe would set in along with blisters, cramped toes, and that lovely feeling of wanting to rip your shoes off and walk over hot coals barefoot rather than take another step in those shoes you “had to have”.  Those were the good ol’days.  Now, I rarely venture out of my gym shoes, Birks, or Spencos, and if I do, you bet I’ve got my orthotics in them.  And you know what? My feet feel great and never hurt even after walking around barefoot at home and at yoga. 

There has been a huge surge in designers aiming their shoes at the comfort category in the last 10 years, so I can promise you, the task of shoe shopping has become a lot less daunting! I’ve created a list of do’s and don’ts for you to follow to help your shopping experience as magical as possible:


  • Shop at the end of the day – our feet naturally swell throughout the day and can alter the length and width of the right size.
  • Fit your larger foot – ever notice how one shoe might fit better than the other? That’s because most of us have feet that are slightly different in size, so do yourself a favor and go with the bigger foot when trying on shoes.
  • Make sure there is wiggle room for your piggies – when we walk, our toes naturally spread and grab to stabilize us, so make sure you can wiggle your toes a little bit or about a thumbs width.
  • Select a shoe shaped like your foot – it’s hard to see if your foot is cramped inside a shoe without an x-ray (they used to do that at shoe stores), so if you can, pull out the insole of the shoe; if your foot is spilling over the insole, choose a different shoe.


  • Assume your size – please don’t do this. Please. For me? Knowing your approximate shoe size is a good baseline, but don’t be scared to deviate. There is not a shoe police that makes sure every size 9 is the exact same, so sometimes I’m a 9, but other shoes I can wear a size 8.5 or 9.5. It’s OK, no one will know what size shoe you’re wearing, so just make sure you’re comfortable.
  • Buy the wrong shoe for the wrong activity – think about what you’ll be doing in your shoes; if you’re going to be walking a lot, make sure you can actually walk in the shoe. Period.
  • Buy for looks – This is so difficult for me; I want the shoe to feel as good as it looks, but sometimes we can’t have it all! I tell myself – breathe, let it go, life will go on - there will be another shoe out there that is just as beautiful and also doesn’t make your feet want to self-amputate. 

I’ve never found a shoe that fits everyone the same or a shoe that everyone finds appealing, so it makes my job difficult when patients ask what shoe is right for them. Instead, I give them the same tips to guide them through their footwear journey.  Once you’ve done it a few times, it gets easier and you’ll find yourself being able to just look at a shoe and know if it’s not right for you.

If you’re really having problems figuring out what to buy, let us know! We are always here to help and LOVE to talk about shoes!!!

Dr. Misty McNeill
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D.P.M. - Founder of Prairie Path Foot and Ankle Clinic