FOOT HEALTH: It might be time for you to change your shoe choices to suit the changes in your feet.
FOOT HEALTH: It might be time for you to change your shoe choices to suit the changes in your feet. Dean Mitchell

Choose the right shoe for your ageing feet

AS WE get older, our foot health changes so the choices of our footwear should also change.

Podiatry Australia ambassador Charlotte Bodell says we should be thinking about support, comfort, the weight of the shoes, affordability, and removable foot bed if wearing orthotics.

It's also important you understand what foot problems you have, such as diabetic neuropathy, and whether you can bend down to tie shoelaces, before buying shoes.

If you have just come out of surgery, then you may need to wear slip-on shoes. "Good slip-on shoes are Propet and Skechers," Ms Bodell said.

"When you are looking at good shoes, you need to look at motion control, if it's breathable, lightweight material and has cushioning or support for the foot," she said. "Motion control is the amount of stability the shoe can provide when you are walking."

If you over-pronate and the mid-foot drops, the vernacular bone can sometimes protrude.

"If that is prominent there can be a lot rubbing and a lot of hard skin can form on that bony area. So, you need to make sure it is cushioned as well," Ms Bodell said.

Breathability is critical if you are prone to fungus or tinea.

If you have bunions, you need to ensure the shoe is wide enough and flexible in the forefoot. The fat pad gets reduced over the years, particularly if you have been on your feet for most of your working life.

"The fat pad moves away from the bony areas and then causes calluses," Ms Bodell said, explaining why cushioning is an important consideration.

At home

Wearing a slip-on shoe with a Velcro strap to help to secure the foot is the best option. But, if you still want to wear a slip-on, then make sure the outsole is non-slip.

It can help to also have a heel of about 1cm on your indoor shoes. "That will help the ankle joint get into a neutral position and put less pressure on the knees and lower back," Ms Bodell said.

Out and about

Ecco, Hush Puppies, Skechers and Zierra - all have good leather shoes which are wide, deep and with a stable heel cup.

"Get the heel cup of a shoe and you hold it in your hand so you are looking at the toes, mid-foot and heel," Ms Bodell said. "Then put your finger on the heel counter and press it in. If you can move it and it's soft, then it's not good as it's not holding your heel in position. You want it quite firm."

For an orthopaedic shoe, Ms Bodell recommends Dr Comfort, Propet and Orthofeet.

On the go

The material of the outsole is key to a good walking shoe.

"You don't want a hard, stiff shoe," she said. "The only part of the foot that is supposed to move is the mid-foot, where the arches move a little, little bit, but the ball of your foot moves the most because you need to able to propulse off when you are walking."

Velcro-top trainers from New Balance, Brooks and Saucony are options. The Hoka One shoe offers a lace-up option with a thicker cushioning and is good when recovering from a foot injury.

Help with fitting

Your podiatrist or GP can recommend a local orthotist who can come to you to help you work out what is the best shoe style and fit your foot health.

For more information, to podiatry.org.au.