The information below is from a reasearch post on the National Library of Medicine and highlights the importance of correctly fitting footwear and its relation to various foot issues. It emphasizes that the right shoe fit is essential for foot health and function, as improperly fitted shoes can lead to foot conditions and skin problems.

The objective was to assess the prevalence of ill-fitting footwear and its association with foot pain and disorders. It scrutinized a substantial number of articles from a database search, categorizing the findings by age groups and specific populations.

Notably, a significant percentage of participants were found to wear shoes that did not match their foot dimensions, and this was linked to foot pain and deformities. The review concludes by advocating for better footwear fitting education and a more extensive range of shoe options tailored to diverse foot shapes.

Study Participants (Gender, Age) Measurement Method Incorrectly Sized Footwear Findings
Akhtar et al. [32] 100 participants (12M, 38F, mean 49 yrs) Foot length, width, footwear length, width (method not mentioned) 45% too small, 14% too long, 64% narrower in foot pathology group 14% too small, 26% too long, 30% narrower in control group
Burns et al. [18] 65 participants (26M, 39F, median 82 yrs) Foot length, width with ‘Clarks’ measuring stick, footwear size (calipers) 49.2% too long, 4.6% too short, 32% too wide Incorrect length associated with ulceration, foot pain
Carter et al. [26] 101 participants (51M, 51F, mean 52 yrs) Fit assessed with published tool, shoe size (length, width, depth) 68.3% too short, 38.6% too narrow, 30.6% too shallow
Chaiwanichsiri et al. [19] 213 participants (108M, 105F, mean 68.7 yrs) Foot length, width, arch, toe depth, heel width (Chula foot calliper), shoe dimensions 50% narrower in women, 35.5% smaller in women with pain 35.5% of women with narrow footwear reported foot pain
De Castro et al. [28] 399 participants (172M, 227F, mean 69.6 yrs) Foot length (calliper), reported shoe size 48.5% women, 69.2% men wore incorrect size footwear Men had higher association with incorrectly sized footwear
Dobson et al. [24] 270 participants (all men, mean 38.3 yrs) 3D foot scans, footwear dimensions compared Footwear substantially longer, not wide enough for forefoot and heel
Frey et al. [23] 356 women (average age 42 yrs) Foot tracings, shoe tracings, width comparison 88% narrower footwear, 20% with no foot pain, 23% no deformity Narrower footwear associated with foot pain and deformity
Frey et al. [22] 255 women (average age 41 yrs) Foot tracings, shoe tracings, width comparison 86% narrower footwear, 20% no foot pain, 23% no deformity
Harrison et al. [29] 100 participants (52M, 48F, mean 62 yrs) ‘Clarks’ measurement device, sliding calipers, footwear dimensions 63% incorrectly sized, 43% too narrow, 29% correct length but too narrow
Kusumoto et al. [21] 51 women (average age 21.3 yrs) Foot length (callipers), footwear size comparison 73% longer footwear, 20% shorter footwear
Lim et al. [16] 50 participants (28M, 22F, mean 10.6 yrs) Footprint mat, max length and width comparison 58% narrower footwear, 10% shorter footwear
López-López et al. [27] 73 participants (25M, 48F, mean 81.4 yrs) Brannock® device, footwear length and width 69.9% incorrect size, 57.5% too narrow, 30.1% simultaneously too long/narrow
López-López et al. [17] 62 participants (29M, 33F, mean 75.3 yrs) Brannock® device, 1 mm difference in length/width Lower FHSQ scores in incorrect fitting group Lower foot health scores in those with incorrect footwear fitting
McHenry et al. [30] 56 participants (45M, 11F, mean 33.6 yrs) ‘Ritz stick’, climbing footwear measurements 98% tight climbing footwear, 91% foot pain Foot discomfort while climbing, tight footwear
McInnes et al. [15] 203 participants (85 with diabetes) Brannock® device, shoe size gauge 66% incorrect size, 55% too short, 47% too long Diabetes associated with incorrectly sized footwear
Menz and Morris [20] 176 participants (56M, 120F, mean 80.1 yrs) Footprint, shoe outline, indoor/outdoor footwear Indoor: 13.7% shorter, 81.4% narrower, 43.7% smaller area; Outdoor: 10.2% shorter, 78.4% narrower, 47.3% smaller area Various associations with corns, callus, hallux valgus, and foot pain
Nixon et al. [25] 440 participants (414M, 26F, mean 67.2 yrs) Apex 1141 ft measuring device, standard method 74.5% incorrectly sized, 25.5% appropriately sized, 4.8x more likely in diabetes with neuropathy Diabetic foot ulceration and neuropathy associated with incorrect sizing
Schwarzkopf et al. [31] 235 participants (varied clinics) Clarks meter, assumed footwear size 34.9% incorrectly fitted footwear, 15.5% private clinic, 42.5% diabetic clinic, 43.5% homeless clinic Female gender associated with shoe size mismatch

Key Takeaway

The key takeaway from the research is that a significant portion of the population wears incorrectly fitted footwear, and this is associated with foot pain and foot disorders. Correct footwear fitting is crucial, and there is a need for better education and a wider selection of shoes to accommodate variations in foot morphology.


  • The web page discusses the importance of correctly fitted footwear and its association with foot pathology.
  • Footwear fitting is vital for proper foot function and health.
  • Incorrectly fitted footwear can contribute to structural foot disorders and skin lesions.
  • The review aimed to determine the prevalence of incorrectly fitted footwear and its relationship with foot pain and foot disorders.
  • A database search yielded 1,681 citations, and 18 articles were included in the review.
  • Findings were categorized by different participant groups, including children, adults, older people, people with diabetes, and occupation-specific footwear.
  • Between 63% and 72% of participants wore shoes that did not accommodate the width or length dimensions of their feet.
  • Incorrect footwear fitting was associated with foot pain and disorders such as lesser toe deformity, corns, and calluses.
  • Specific groups, such as children with Down syndrome and older people with diabetes, were more likely to wear shoes that were too narrow.
  • The review emphasizes the need for education on footwear fitting and the availability of a wider range of shoes to match foot morphology.

The research highlights the importance of properly fitting footwear to prevent foot pain and disorders, especially among vulnerable populations.


Disclaimer: Educational Information Only

The information provided here is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment, including any foot-related concerns. If you have any health issues or questions about your feet, please consult a qualified healthcare professional, like a doctor or podiatrist. Don’t ignore medical advice or delay seeking help based on what you read here or elsewhere. We’re not responsible for any harm caused by using this information. Everyone’s response to treatments can be different, and medical recommendations may change over time. If you experience a medical emergency or serious foot problem, seek immediate medical attention, or call your local emergency services. By using this resource, you agree to these terms and understand the importance of getting personalized medical advice from a qualified professional.

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