Guide to Evaluating Shoes and Ensuring Proper Shoe Fit

Shoes are an essential part of treating foot and ankle complaints and they’re often the cause.  We know that all feet are not the same, and the same is true with footwear.  That’s why we thoroughly evaluate your shoes and how they relate to your symptoms, foot shape, gait, weight, lifestyle, and overall biomechanics.  Plus, we’ll educate you about how to choose footwear properly, and we will provide you with a list of the best shoes for all kinds of specialized needs.

Video: How to Evaluate Shoes

A stable shoe has the following 3 qualities:

1. Stable heel counter, figure 1.

How to Evaluate Shoes: stable shoes heel counter

Figure 1 – stabel heel counter

2. Difficult to twist, figure 2.

stable shoes difficult twist

Figure 2 – a stable shoe should be difficult to twist

3. Bends in the front not the middle, figure 3. Stable shoe should bend where the toes bend not in the middle.

stable shoes bend toes

TFigure 3 Stable shoe

should bend where the toes bend not in the middle.

Shoe Fitting Tips

  • Try shoes on at the end of the day
  • Try the shoes on with the thickest socks you might wear with those shoes.
  • Measurements should be taken while you are standing.
  • Have both feet measured. Most people have one larger foot. Fit to the large one.
  • The longest toe should be a finger’s breadth from the end of the toe box.
  • The counter around the heel should be reasonably snug.
  • The forefoot should not be crowded.
  • Foot should not budge over the sole.
  • Don’t worry about the stated “size” of the shoe. Worry about the “fit.” It doesn’t matter that you wore a size 5 when you were 22 and the clerk is telling you to try a size 9. Only Cinderella always wears the same size shoe. Your foot size will change as you grow older. Also, sizes vary between brands.
  • Don’t buy a shoe if it feels too tight. It will NOT stretch to fit your foot.

To learn more, visit our other shoe pages:

Recommended Shoes

At least twice every year we evaluate the shoes currently available on the market. Our recommended shoe list contains many of the best shoes that we have found. For the most part they are shoes that offer increased stability.   In addition, we list some of the best shoe stores in the Seattle area.

Recommended Shoe Stores

This page provides a list of Puget Sound shoe stores with well trained personnel and great shoe selection and fitting.

Shoe Fitting Tips

Proper shoe fit is a primary component of good foot health.  Our Shoe Fit Tips provides the  top 10 most important issues for proper shoe fit.

Shoe Modifications

Shoes can be modified in many ways to relieve pain, protect joints and to provide better fit and comfort.   Our Shoe Modifications page explains many of the modifications we regularly prescribe.


Socks are a critical part of overall foot health and the right socks will decrease pain and prevent many problems.

Hiking Boots

Properly fitted hiking boots are key to preventing foot problems while hiking. Picking the proper hiking boot is the first step towards a successful hiking trip.

2023 Shoe Guide and Recommendations

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