Today, shoes are available in a bewildering number of styles from the 6 inch stiletto heel to the shoe sock. The offerings are eclectic, to say the least. In my extensive medical practice, in which I see approximately fifty new patients each week, many present with problems originating from improper footwear, therefore incurring pathologies such as Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis, Bunions, Hammer Toes and most significantly of all – secondary problems of the spine, the result of biomechanical imbalances.

To advise you with regard to selecting proper footwear, I wish to provide some guidelines to be heeded, whenever you buy your next pair of shoes. Most people, as we all know, have more than a sufficient number of styles and patterns in their closets, however economics permitting are always adding to these reserves. Whereas fashion and the environment may be taken into account, do not let these factors dictate your choice.

Personally, I am aware how much the soft spike in golf shoes, as opposed to those made of steel, predominant as recently as 10 years ago, have preserved the careers of not only many golf professionals, but also the average amateur. With the use of soft spikes, the trauma to the feet is comparatively minimal and one can easily walk 36 holes without discomfort. In the era when the metal spike was still in vogue and as much as I like the game, I often prayed for the season to end. By late November, my feet were killing me and I welcomed the conferred winter respite.

Now on to the selection process – First of all, make certain that you are dealing with someone who understands how to fit a shoe properly, never mind the sales pitch. Once that has been accomplished, allowing for adequate but not excessive width and length, walk around the store for an appropriate period of time, to determine if the fit appears to be satisfactory. These are simple, but often disregarded rules. Next, I generally arrange with the store manager that I will wear them at home for a short period of time and request permission to return them, if the fit is uncomfortable. If that is acceptable to management, one can feel safe and proceed to complete the purchase.

Tips – Today, many people walk a great deal at work, pursue sporting activities or even walk several miles daily in their own home. A soft sole is therefore paramount. Whereas these types of shoes may not be suitable for social occasions, including some offices, they will preserve the health of the feet and avoid back problems.

In situations where running shoes are not permitted in the workplace, obtain black comfortable shoes with a soft sole and a good arch support. In my experience, these are best found in shoes manufactured by New Balance, Asics and a number of other companies. The two mentioned above are personal favorites as they are sufficiently wide, although I have worn others in the past, also with a significant level of comfort. Sometimes, even a good manufacturer, for whatever reason, makes products that are less satisfactory than previous versions. On occasion, Nike has been found to be guilty of this transgression. This is knowledge that I have gained from both personal experience and the observation of patients and for obvious reasons have developed a special interest in this area.

On the other hand, I fail to understand why manufacturers keep changing the models other than for competitive reasons. For instance, New Balance put out a model 6 years ago, but only for a short period of time. With much effort, I was able to purchase 2 pairs of this type (now both worn out). That said, I would still love to have them bring the old model out of the vault. For my needs, it was ‘the absolute perfect shoe’ and hopefully, they may take note of these comments and recreate this particular model.

The advice provided should be helpful to those purchasing new shoes. Most important, make sure that ‘the shoe fits’ and do not rush into a purchase.

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