What Makes a Shoe Comfortable?
The quest for comfortable shoes sometimes feels like the hunt for the Holy Grail. Sometimes you wonder whether what you’re looking for even exists. Shopping for comfortable shoes online for women or men can be even more of a challenge because you can’t try on the shoes before purchasing to see how they feel.
Assessing shoe comfort can be complicated because it is at least somewhat subjective. The Shoe and Allied Trades Research Association has gotten the assessment down to a science with a 16-step process of measuring shoe comfort. However, you do not need to go to such great lengths. When it comes to finding a comfortable shoe, there are only four factors essential factors that you need to take into consideration.
Even if you are physically comfortable, you may feel self-conscious sporting a shoe that you do not like the look of. Not only that, but certain styles of shoe are more comfortable during certain seasons and weather conditions. For example, you may find Birkenstock sandals on sale during the fall, but they are unlikely to be very comfortable in the upcoming winter months.
The type of insole you require depends on the shape of your foot, particularly the arch. People with high arches are more comfortable in shoes that provide significant arch support. However, these may be uncomfortable for people with low arches because the shape of their feet does not require that level of support.
The activities that you intend to perform while wearing the shoes also affects the type of insole you should look for. If you intend to engage in running or other high-impact activities, you should look for insoles that can absorb impact and provide the necessary cushioning. Examples include memory foam and gel.
It probably comes as no surprise that a shoe that is the correct size will be more comfortable. However, it may come as a surprise to find out that most people actually wear shoes that are too small for them. It is important to find shoes that can accommodate the width of your feet in addition to the length. Shoes meant for particularly wide feet usually have a “W” on the tag in addition to the numerical size. Lengthwise, well-fitting shoes should provide at least five-eighths of an inch between the end of the shoe and your longest toe. Many people have feet that are slightly different sizes. If so, you should try shoes on your larger foot.
The soles of your shoes come in various degrees of rigidity versus flexibility. People with high arches are typically more comfortable with a flexible sole, while those with feet that are wide and flat benefit from one that is more rigid. However, you should never be able to make a shoe “pretzel,” that is, twist the sole out of configuration, while you are wearing it.
For all its convenience, the challenge of buying women’s or men’s shoes online is that it is difficult to find shoes that fit well on the basis of a description on a website, even if it is well written. You can protect yourself by buying from a retailer with a generous return policy if the shoes ultimately do not fit.