Finding the Right Shoes

Your typical shoe store has dozens of options and finding the right shoes can feel like an impossible task. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming! This guide will explain the things you should consider when choosing shoes that are right for you.

Shoes and Your Pain

Pain is complex and each person has unique contributions to their pain. Shoes are just one part of the pain equation. You should consider your activity, your history, and the pattern of pain that arises when you are wearing shoes and on your feet. Some health conditions that impact footwear choices may require more advice from a medical practitioner (e.g. diabetes, rheumatic diseases).

Tried and True Tips

The evidence clearly does not support one type of shoe when it comes to pain. Personal preference is more important. While we cannot recommend certain shoes or brands, here are some general tips on how to pick shoes.

  • Focus on comfort. This seems obvious, but comfort is the most important feature for a shoe.

  • One shoe does not fit all. No one type of shoe covers all the different sizes and shapes of feet or the different activities that you participate in.

  • Get properly fitted. Many people are wearing shoes that are too big or too small for them.

  • Avoid extremes. Avoid extremes for your everyday shoes (e.g very tall high heels).

  • Match the shoe to the job. If you are on concrete floors all day you may need more cushion or if you are a manual worker you might need more support and protection (e.g. steel toed).

Focus On Taking an Active Role

While finding the right shoes can reduce your pain, it’s important to spend time building habits that tackle bigger contributions to your pain. The following examples are best steps for taking an active role in reducing your pain:

  • Gradually moving more

  • Maximizing sleep and balancing stress

  • Healthy eating and weight loss

Reach out to your coach for great resources to help you move more, reduce your stress, sleep better, and improve your diet.

Key Takeaways

  1. Shoes are just one part of your pain equation. You should also consider your activity, history, and health conditions when selecting footwear.

  2. There is no one ‘right’ shoe and comfort is the most important feature when selecting shoes. Choose shoes to fit your activity and get fitted for the proper size.

  3. You can build habits that make a bigger contribution to reducing your pain, such as regular movement, better sleep, and stress and weight management.


  1. Napier, C., & Willy, R. W. (2018). Logical fallacies in the running shoe debate: let the evidence guide prescription. British journal of sports medicine, 52(24), 1552–1553.

  2. Nigg, B. M., Baltich, J., Hoerzer, S., & Enders, H. (2015). Running shoes and running injuries: mythbusting and a proposal for two new paradigms: 'preferred movement path' and 'comfort filter'. British journal of sports medicine, 49(20), 1290–1294.

  3. Davis I. S. (2014). The re-emergence of the minimal running shoe. The Journal of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy, 44(10), 775–784.

  4. MacRae, C. S., Lewis, J. S., Shortland, A. P., Morrissey, M. C., & Critchley, D. (2013). Effectiveness of rocker sole shoes in the management of chronic low back pain: a randomized clinical trial. Spine, 38(22), 1905–1912.

  5. Malfliet, A., Ickmans, K., Huysmans, E., Coppieters, I., Willaert, W., Bogaert, W. V., Rheel, E., Bilterys, T., Wilgen, P. V., & Nijs, J. (2019). Best Evidence Rehabilitation for Chronic Pain Part 3: Low Back Pain. Journal of clinical medicine, 8(7), 1063.

  6. Riskowski, J., Dufour, A. B., & Hannan, M. T. (2011). Arthritis, foot pain and shoe wear: current musculoskeletal research on feet. Current opinion in rheumatology, 23(2), 148–155.