Step into comfort with your ultimate guide to selecting supportive footwear

Oct 26, 2023
Put your best foot forward and choose the right shoes for your feet. Source: Getty Images.

These shoes are made for walking…and dancing…and shopping!

There’s no doubt about it, many of us have a special relationship with our accessories, but nothing can compare to an amazing pair of shoes. 

And when it comes to picking out a new set for collection, you’re certainly not short on choices! But even though there’s an abundance of adorable footwear on the market, over half of Australians still have their lives impacted negatively by foot pain.

If you’re someone who has plantar fasciitis, bunions, corns, calluses or achilles tendonitis, you may find it challenging to find shoes that accommodate your foot condition.

We’re not just talking about finding comfortable heels or sandals either, plenty of “normal” shoes don’t cater to age-related foot problems. Wearing shoes that are even the slightest bit tight or made from stiff material is enough to leave you in toetal agony. 

For that reason, Starts at 60 has created a guide to help you put your best foot forward when it comes to finding the right shoes for your foot pain. 

How to choose the right shoe for your foot type

The best shoes give your feet the right cushion and support for your foot type. Source: Getty

While the most important thing is feeling confident in your choice of footwear, there are general rules you can follow to ensure your shoes marry supportive materials with trendy styles. 

For flat-arch feet 

For some people, flat feet are hereditary. Others can develop flat feet as a result of ageing, pregnancy or health conditions like arthritis or diabetes. But whether or not your flat feet cause you pain, we can all agree that wearing the right style of shoe is vital.

The ideal shoe for people with flat feet firmly cups the heel and offers proper arch support. It’s recommended to choose shoes with a sturdy yet cushioned insole to support your foot’s surface. The shoe’s sole should be pliable but not overly flexible, allowing it to move with the foot and provide stability during walking or standing.

If you find yourself struggling to find shoes that offer the right cushioning for your feet, you may want to consider seeing a podiatrist about getting custom orthotic inserts. If shoes and orthotics still don’t ease your pain, you may need physical therapy, and in rare cases, foot surgery.

For high-arch feet

We all know feet come in all shapes and sizes, but so can the height of your arches. Some people have higher than average arches, a condition called cavus foot which is fairly common. Having higher arches, however, may cause you to develop foot pain and make you more prone to ankle injuries.

For people with high arches, look for shoes with a lot of ankle support. Shoes and boots that are snug around the ankles are ideal since they prevent your ankles from over-twisting. This may help prevent any exercise injuries and may help relieve pressure off your Achilles tendon.

Because people with high arches are also prone to bunions, you want to look for shoes that have extra wiggle room for your toes.

Normal arch feet

A normal foot arch is defined as an arch that is neither flat nor high. Normal arches often have a normal range of motion in the different joints of the foot and ankle. It’s easy to assume neutral arch feet would be pain-free, but this isn’t necessarily the case. 

Putting your neutral arch under abnormal stress can cause your feet to become fatigued and overused. When this happens, the muscles in your lower legs have to work harder to do the same job.

Similar to people who have low or high arches, those with a normal arch height ought to seek out shoes with insoles that provide solid support and contour their arch.

Wide forefoot

If you have wider feet, you’re likely familiar with the discomfort that comes with wearing ill-fitting shoes. Just as individuals with narrow feet should consider the width of their footwear to prevent their shoe from coming loose, those with wider feet should prioritise finding shoes that provide ample space to prevent chafing and blisters, as well as to prevent potential long-term foot damage.

Shoes to help relieve foot pain

Knowing what to look for when shopping for shoes for your foot condition may help relieve foot pain. Source: Getty


If you’re someone with bunions, it’s important to pay attention to your shoe’s structure and pressure points on the foot. Look for footwear that features stretch or mesh panels around the bunion area to allow for flexibility while walking, rather than rigid panels that could cause discomfort.

The best footwear for bunions should provide ample space around the affected joint areas and be comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. Opting for low-heeled shoes can help reduce pressure on the toes and prevent the weight from being pushed too far forward.

Also, look for shoes that don’t restrict the balls of your feet or constrict the toes in any way.

Achilles tendonitis

If you experience achilles tendonitis, which is pain at the lower back of your heel, it’s recommended to opt for shoes with a one-inch heel or wedge height instead of completely flat ones. This reduces the strain on the Achilles tendon and increases overall comfort. It’s recommended to avoid flat shoes like flip flops, as they can cause pronation and arch collapse, leading to added conditions such as plantar and posterior heel pain, shin splints, knee pain, and back pain.

Plantar fasciitis

If you’re suffering from persistent discomfort or sharp stabbing sensations in the rear of your foot, it’s highly likely that you’re experiencing plantar fasciitis.

When searching for a suitable shoe to alleviate plantar fasciitis pain, there are a few things to keep in mind. Pick a well-fitting shoe with top-notch, focused cushioning. If your shoe of choice does not have enough cushioning, orthotics can also be considered. Bear in mind that flip-flops, Crocs, and unsupportive sandals can further aggravate your plantar fasciitis pains.

Whether your foot type or condition, the ultimate goal for your shoe is to provide support with comfort. And because no two feet are exactly the same, the best way to find the perfect shoe to fit your needs is by talking to a specialist.

Remember, happy feet are healthy feet.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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