About Foot Pain
Since shoe fit affects foot function, the marriage between foot and shoe needs to be a harmonious one. People with foot problems are very often people with shoe problems. Shoes should allow the foot to do its job while still protecting it from the forces of walking 10,000+ steps you take a day. During this daily venture your feet will take on many tasks.
Your foot needs to act as a loose, "bag of bones" when it hits the ground to adapt to uneven surfaces. Then, your foot will absorb shock equivalent to 250% of your own body weight, at times. It will then transform itself into a rigid, propulsive lever to move you forward. Your feet perform all these functions in a fraction of a second, thousands of times over. The shoes you wear can allow, or inhibit your feet from doing these functions efficiently.
How tight shoes affect the foot can be a through a multitude of conditions. Short shoes can bunch up your toes, causing them to curl or "claw" while wearing them, and long term use can permanently affect their shape. This position can develop corns on the tops of the toes, and calluses on the undersides of the toe pads, as well as across the balls of the foot.
Short shoes can actually contribute to bunions. They force the big toe to bend out towards the lesser toes, while at the same time putting pressure on the inside of the foot, on the big toe joint. It does this because short shoes put the widest part of the foot in a slightly narrower portion of the shoe, up towards the front. This is not the only reason why people get bunions, but it's a sure contributor.
Short shoes can also affect how your big toe functions. When your heel lifts from the ground, your big toe raises. This is a moment when your foot must transform itself from a shock absorber, to a rigid propulsive lever. As your big toe lifts, it triggers a mechanism in your foot that raises your arch, locking the joints in the mid-foot, and prepare the foot to become rigid. If your shoe is short, then the big toe joint (which is the hinge that raises the big toe) will not line up with the bending point of the shoe. This can restrict your big toe from raising when it must, and the foot will then not be an effective rigid lever when it needs to be. The result is a foot that stays in its shock absorbing state at a time when it should be rigid. Joints of the mid-foot are more flexible at this moment and can strain. Muscles, attached to bone via tendons in the lower leg must then work overtime to compensate. Excessive strain of muscles, tendons, or ligaments can only occur for so long and remain pain-free. It's important to have your shoes fit your feet so they can perform as they were designed.
As a fit guideline, you should have enough room in your shoe at the end of your longest toe to fit the width of your index finger.
We can't discuss the length of shoes without discussing width. As a rule, shoes get wider as you go up in size within the same style. So, a size 10B shoe is wider than a 9B, and a 9B is wider than an 8B, and so on. People's feet that are too wide for a particular style of shoes in their size, must buy a longer size to get the width that fits. By this guideline, shoes that are too short can also be too narrow. Narrow shoes cause problems as well. Narrow shoes push the balls of your feet together and pinch nerves in-between the balls of your feet which can cause painful "neuromas" in the forefoot. Neuromas are horribly problematic, and if non-responsive to conservative treatment, require injections, and/or surgery which results in loss of sensation to the affected toes and wrinkles on your face from the pain. Recurrence of neuromas is probable, as people who experience relief from invasive treatment will go right back to wearing the same shoes that caused the condition in the first place. The same is true with bunions.
So, what size shoes do I need? What kind of shoes? What shape?
When deciding if a shoes' shape is right for you, take the shoe and put it right next to your foot and compare shapes. Does the shoe look impossibly small? When you put the shoe on, is the leather or fabric around the front of the shoe super tight? It shouldn't be. Have you got toe room? Can the piggies wiggle? They should be able to.
Use these guidelines to find a shoe that fits and functions well. There are shoes out there that can suit many purposes, from work to the dance floor. you'll be surprised what shoes can be found if you just try some on. Many social dancers adopt regular shoes as their weapons of choice, and have them sueded to give the adequate amount of slip on the floor. If you suffer, and you feel that your shoes are causing the problem, you're probably right. You need to alter your shoe size and/or style to insure that your time dancing, and walking is a pleasure, and pain-free.