When did you last have your feet measured for a pair of shoes in a shoe shop? We are seeing the demise of the independent shoe shop, sadly, many are closing, this week 3 children’s shoe shops have closed.
The footwear industry has very few specialists, presently you don’t have to be trained to sell shoes and approximately 90% of those in the industry know nothing about feet or fitting shoes and no legal obligation to do so. The Society of Shoe Fitters are trying to change that and are campaigning for training to fit shoes, by appealing to the government to take steps to educate the public and improve the footwear industry: http://www.shoefitters-uk.org/ .
Imported cheap shoes will often offer no support, combined with not being fitted can lead to foot problems. Shoe brands will often vary in sizes as there is no standardisation and no 2 pairs of feet are the same, you can even measure the length and the width but the volume your foot fits into a shoe is another matter and that takes skill and knowledge. It’s hard to describe an ideal shoe but as a golden rule the toe box at the front of the shoe should be foot shaped and deep enough also sufficient room to wriggle toes. ‘wear the right shoe for the right occasion’ and ‘change your heel heights regularly as the different heights will exercise your arches, your leg and back muscles’. Although ideally heel height should be no greater than 4cm with a broad base of shock-absorbing material and fitting snugly around the heel. Ideally a shoe is best secured onto the foot with laces, straps with either buckled or Velcro fastenings.
As podiatrists we see many patients in our clinics on a daily basis wearing shoes that do not fit their feet and the resulting damage. When we put on weight on our body feet will too, altering the size or width, the foot can also elongate due to the arch dropping. Some have been wearing the same size shoe all their lives regardless of the changing foot shape, length or width. Fortunately, the youngsters of today are kicking off their ballet pumps and putting on their trainers as the retro styles are becoming trendy again. I did go shopping for these last weekend with my granddaughter for just a pair of these and our experience was:
We looked at the shoes on the shelf and picked 2 styles she had in mind to try on, the assistant collected them in a size 5. He loosened the laces handed them to us and then walked back to the till to chat to another colleague. Are we only going to be left with buying online, supermarket and retail shops, is this kind of service we want for our children or ourselves?