a women trying on multiple pair of shoesAs traffic in Seattle gets worse and women and men have more responsibilities at home and at work, more of my patients are opting to shop for shoes on Amazon or Zappos even though I always recommend a brick and mortar store.

If you happen to be one of those compelled by necessity to order your shoes online I have some tips that will make your experience more successful.

Measure Your Feet

It would be great if our feet would stay the same size after we reach adulthood but unfortunately for many of us this is not the case. An increase in shoe size is common. The most important part of buying a pair of shoes online is getting an accurate measurement of your feet. You could simply hop on down to your local shoe store and get measured or you can do it yourself at home. Here's how to measure your feet using a standard tape measure and how to convert this measurement to the correct size.

Only Keep Shoes That Fit

Keep in mind that shoes should feel comfortable when you try them on. While many of us learned that shoes require a break-in period, that's not true anymore. If a pair of shoes is uncomfortable when you try them on no amount of wearing them is likely to improve that outcome. More often the shoes will feel more uncomfortable the more you wear them. And that's just a recipe for foot pain. Keep those cute shoes in the box and return them.

If you want to be sure, wear them for several hours around your house.

Use An Online Store That Returns Shoes for Free

If the shoes don't fit properly, return them. That's where using an online store that allows free returns comes in handy. Amazon owns Zappos so both of these stores will allow you to return shoes for free. Likely other stores have followed suit. Just be sure you read the fine print to find out about their return policy including whether or not they accept shoes that have been worn outside.

Stick With the Tried and True

To have the best outcome with online shoe purchases, buy from brands that have worked for you in the past. Because brands may use a different last (the form used for making shoes) for making different styles of shoes it's also best to stick with a style that has worked well.

Read the Description

The shoes may look beautiful but the materials may be of poor quality. It's always a good idea to read the description to make sure you're getting the materials you were hoping for.

Keep A Shoe Log

To help you with your shoe purchases in the future, keep a shoe log. Keep track of the date, shoe brand, shoe name, and shoe size being sure to include both the length and the width. Although you could go back to your original shoes sometimes the sizes rub off and not everyone likes to save the boxes. This could save you a lot of time and trouble when making new purchases.

Follow Your Podiatrist's Recommendations

No matter where you buy your shoes, there are a few recommendations I make to all my patients who are looking to buy a new pair of shoes.

  • shop for and/or try on your online shoes at the end of the day when feet are likely to be most swollen.

  • buy shoes for your longest foot

  • try on your shoes with your orthotics

  • don't have orthotics but still want good support; remove the inserts the shoes came with and insert a pair of Powersteps.

  • choose shoes with a roomier toe box

  • choose shoes with a heel no higher than one inch

  • test your shoes to ensure they'll provide good support

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.
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