Choosing Inserts for Flat Feet: A Podiatry Blog

5 Ways to Prevent Foot Pain When One Foot is Bigger Than the Other

One foot bigger than the other? You're not alone – an estimated 60% of the population has different sized feet, and that can make buying shoes a real pain. However, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your mismatched feet don't cause too much pain or discomfort.

1. Buy for the Bigger Foot

This is the Golden Rule: always buy shoes that fit the larger foot. It's generally less damaging to have shoes that are a little too big rather than those that are cramped and confining; too small of shoes can lead to serious problems, and it's much easier to fill in the space around a small foot than it is to stretch out a shoe for a big foot. Additionally, feet tend to expand throughout the day, so a tight fitting shoe can become unbearable after a few hours.

2. Use Different Socks and Lacing Methods

Most people with one foot larger than the other can mitigate the problem simply by wearing thicker socks on the smaller foot – just make sure your socks are the same colour if you want to avoid funny looks. You can also lace each shoe differently, using the upper eye-holes and tighter lacing for the smaller foot.

3. Consult a Podiatrist

Wearing incorrectly-sized shoes is usually just an annoyance, but it can cause serious problems, such as hammer toes. For this reason, it's best to consult your local podiatrist for general foot care. They will be able to take a look at each foot, then offer advice. They might even be able to prescribe a set of insoles or inserts that can make both shoes equally comfy and supportive.

4. Let Your Salesperson Know

Shoe salespeople lack the medical knowledge of a podiatrist, but they certainly know about shoes. Manufacturers don't just follow the same designs and sizing methods, which is why you might be a size nine in a Timberland boot and a size eleven in a Nike running shoe. If you let the salesperson know that one foot is larger, they will usually be able to pick out certain brands that tend to either offer half-sizes or make shoes that work better for people in your situation.

5. Consider Buying One of Each

Okay, nobody wants to buy two pairs of shoes just to create one pair that they will actually use, but this is sometimes the best option, especially if one foot is a full size larger than the other. Unless you've won the lottery, you probably won't be picking up two pairs of Louis Vuitton heels, but everyday shoes and trainers aren't usually too expensive, and it make sense to have them fit properly since you will be regularly wearing them for hours at a time.