I am often asked by my patients: “how much should I spend on a good pair of shoes to keep my feet from pain?” The answer to this question is not as simple as one would expect.
The short answer to this question is that cost may not necessarily matter. Shoe prices, while often reflective of the overall quality and construction of the shoe, are just as loosely dependent on the whims of the fashion world as any other article of clothing. Certain trendy items and products from high end fashionable manufacturers will always have higher prices that do not necessarily reflect either the quality or the medical grade ‘worth’ of the actual shoe. In fact, some highly expensive shoes are downright awful for the human foot.
Recent poor trends include rocker bottom shoes a few years ago, and more recently lightweight minimalist type of cushioned shoe. Of course, the fashion industry historically always contributes its own horrific shoe designs that have little correlation with the actual shape of the foot.
Given these considerations, the most expensive shoe is not necessarily the best. So how can one gauge how much should be spent on a shoe? Well, the way to ultimately reach this decision is to forget about price. First and foremost, a shoe should be proper for one’s foot structure. In particular, flatter feet need stiffer shoes, high arch feet need cushioned shoes, and regular feet need something in between. Your podiatrist can help determine what type of shoe your foot structure requires. From this basic criteria, one must then figure out what type of activity the shoes are going to be worn in, as this influences the general need for construction quality and durability. Finally, one should be properly fitted into the shoes by a trained clerk who knows their products well. Often, this does require going to a store that costs a little more in exchange for better service.
From the above criteria, the price of the shoe should become self apparent based what shoe supports one’s foot the best, is appropriate for its intended activity (daily use versus labor versus specific athletic activities etc.), and fits appropriately. The price of the shoe that fits these criteria is the price you should pay.
Oh, if you are paying over $180 on a pair of retail shoes, you really are paying too much, no matter what you are buying.