By Dr. Kathryn Alleva

One of the most common questions we get asked as podiatrists is “What is a good quality shoe?”. A good, supportive shoe typically shares certain characteristics:

Arch support

Arch support helps to maintain your foot alignment and support your arch and plantar fasica. Especially if you suffer with plantar fasciitis, midfoot arthritis, or tendinitis.  Depending on your foot type, whether you are an over-pronator or tend to supinate, arch support that is appropriate for your foot is an important quality to consider as it can help reduce strain on your feet and ankles.


Try looking for a pair of shoes that will give you adequate cushioning. Cushioning is what gives you comfort and helps with shock absorption as you walk. A common misconception is that “memory foam” is an adequate material to cushion, however this material usually becomes flat and unsupportive after about a week of wearing the shoes. Ensure the type of cushioning the shoe has to offer will be durable and withstand regular wear and tear.

Adequate toebox space

If you suffer from bunions and/or hammertoes, you may automatically search for a shoe that offers your toes enough room to be comfortable without rubbing and potentially causing a sore. A good rule of thumb when looking for shoes is to take the insole of the shoe out, place it on the ground in front of you, and stand on the insert with your feet shoulder width apart with all your weight. If your foot is contained entirely within the insole of the shoe, you will know when you place the insole and your foot into the shoe you have an adequate fit. Be mindful of the stitching pattern and material the shoe is made from as well. If you do suffer from forefoot pathology, you may need a shoe made from a pliable or more elastic material, such as mesh, to reduce friction and uncomfortable rubbing in the shoe.


Supportive shoes should have a firm heel counter. The heel counter is the portion of the shoe in which the back of your heel rests. This helps control the pronation and supination of your hindfoot and offer your feet and lower extremities a supportive base.

Proper fit

It is advisable to get your feet measured to ensure you’re wearing the right size shoe. With that said, every shoe brand is built differently, and you may find that you are a half size larger or smaller in one brand over another. It is important to try shoes on prior to purchasing to ensure an appropriate fit. Your feet can change size and shape as you age, during/after pregnancy, and following surgery. Your feet and legs may also swell throughout the day, so a good rule of thumb is to go shoe shopping at the end of the day to ensure a good fit!

The level of support needed varies on an individual basis. If you have any foot pain, questions or concerns, it’s always best to consult with a podiatrist for personalized care.

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