Survey Shows Experts’ Suggestions for Best Shoes

Despite the availability of many different brands of athletic and dress
shoes, orthopedic and ankle surgeons commonly recommend a select few,
reflective of their own preferences.

“Surprisingly, surgeons appear to be aware of the impact of their
own shoe selection on patients’ perspectives of shoewear, but many do not
consider themselves role models for proper shoewear,” said Daniel C.
Farber, MD.

  Daniel C. Farber
  Daniel C. Farber

Additionally, the majority prefer to utilize the
American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society’s (AOFAS)
guidelines “10 Points of Proper Shoe Fit” to educate patients.

Farber is an assistant professor of orthopedics in the Department of
Orthopaedics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, chief of the
Foot and Ankle Service at the University of Maryland Medical Center, and chief
of University Orthopaedics at J. Lawrence Kernan Hospital.

He presented results of a survey that highlighted experts’
recommendations for proper footwear at the AOFAS Meeting.

“Our raw numbers help to let surgeons know what is out there and
what are, in general, thought to be ‘good’ shoes,” he told
O&P Business News.

Shoe selection in sum

Shoe design and improper fit can contribute to foot problems, such as
hallux valgus, lesser toe deformities and pain, according to the study. To
treat and ideally prevent these problems, orthopedic and ankle surgeons can
play an important role in educating patients about proper footwear.

Farber and colleagues surveyed 866 active members of the AOFAS via
email; 276 surgeons responded to the questionnaire. Using these results, they
assessed what shoes these surgeons recommend to patients, what they wear
themselves, and whether they perceived themselves as role models of proper
footwear in clinical settings.

A majority of surgeons (63.8%) recommended New Balance athletic shoes to
their patients. As for personal preference, 50% preferred New Balance and 25%
preferred Nike athletic shoes.

Results for dress shoe recommendations were less definitive, Farber
said, with 27% recommending Rockport for patients and 19% preferring Rockport
and Ecco brands for themselves.

“There are several commonly prescribed brands of both athletic and
dress shoes, and they roughly correlated with what surgeons themselves
wore,” he said. “However, many surgeons preferred to educate patients
on the attributes of appropriate shoewear and not recommend a specific

10 points of proper shoe fit

Results of the survey also indicated that a small majority (56%) of
respondents utilize the AOFAS’s “10 Points of Proper Shoe Fit”
in an effort to educate their patients; 59% use these guidelines for their own
shoe selection.

Farber highlighted these points, suggesting that physicians and surgeons
should share them with patients:

  • · Sizes vary among shoe brands and styles. Don’t select
    shoes by the size marked inside the shoe. Judge the shoe by how it fits on your
  • · Select a shoe that conforms as nearly as possible to the
    shape of your foot.
  • · Have your feet measured regularly. The size of your feet
    changes as you grow older. For women, it may change during pregnancy.
  • · Have both feet measured. Most people have one foot larger
    than the other. Fit to the larger foot.
  • · Fit at the end of the day when your feet are largest.
  • · Stand during the fitting process and check that there is
    adequate space (3/8″ to 1/2″) for your longest toe at the end of each shoe.
  • · Make sure the ball of the foot fits comfortably into the
    widest part (ball pocket) of the shoe.
  • · Don’t purchase shoes that feel too tight, expecting
    them to “stretch” to fit.
  • · Your heel should fit comfortably in the shoe with a minimum
    amount of slippage.
  • · Walk in the shoe to make sure it fits and feels right.

by Tara Grassia

Disclosure:Farber reported no relevant
financial disclosures.

For more information:

  • Farber DC, Knutsen EJ. Shoe-wear recommendations survey of
    American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society. Presented at the American
    Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society Annual Meeting. Keystone, Colo. July 13-16,

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