You went to the shoe store, selected a fabulous pair of shoes, tried them on, and purchased them. The shoes may have felt a little tight around the toes in the store, but you figured they would stretch out over time.
Most people, when they purchase shoes, expect that there will be a break in period. They think most shoes won't fit correctly for a while until they've been worn a couple of times. The break in period of time is an awful time when man and shoe are not in harmony.
Shoe brands are reluctant to let their consumers know that their shoes will require a break in period. Dress shoes are notorious for being the worst when in comes to getting the perfect fit. L.L. Bean even includes a disclaimer card with its handsewn footwear that says "The initial fit of a handsewn style shoe should feel snug in the forefoot. Shoes will stretch to a correct fit within a short period of time."
Did you know Queen Elizabeth II has someone to break in her shoes for her, so her foot discomfort is minimal?!!
Some shoe brands are recognizing the pain and discomfort that comes along with breaking in shoes and are attempting to reduce that period of time. They are finding that many consumers will put those painful shoes in the back of their closet and never shop that brand again.
The most common place for pain when breaking in shoes is in the forefoot, the area between the ball of the foot and the toes. Cole Haan released this summer a men's dress shoe that protects the forefoot by placing a layer of foam cushioning technology that is called Lunarlon. The shoe will also feature the Lunarlon sock liner that runs the full sole of the shoe, which is not typically of most men's dress shoes, says Gareth Lewis, Cole Haan's men's design director. The outer sole has flex grooves, that help the sole bend with the movement of the wearer's foot.
Johnston & Murphy's XC4 shoe collection, launched in 2010, uses footbeds, that contain polyurethane and are molded to the foot. The shoes themselves also have a layer of memory foam and a molded polyurethane outer sole injected with rubber inserts in key pain locations, which offers the wearer more flexibility in the forefoot.
"If there's any break-in time at all, it's a couple of wears at the most," said Jason Jones, vice-president of design and development at Johnston & Murphy.
Allen Edwards deleted instead of added by taking away a inner layer of leather near the top of the instep as part of its collection of unconstructed shoes. Chief marketing officer Colin Hall says that by removing the inner liner it creates "less layers and a softer shoe that wraps around the foot."
In the women's shoe brands, Stuart Weitzman is using malleable uppers, flexible soles, and soft-tanning processes for leathers used in their high heeled shoes. In 2007 the company began using spongelike latex fillers between the shoe's lining and upper to provide more comfort.
When it comes to areas of pain in the foot caused by shoes, men typically complain of pain across the tops of the toes, while women complain of pain in the ball of the foot and the heel.
So how do you know when the best time is to go shoe shopping? In the later afternoon and evening are the best times to try on shoes, since your feet have swollen through the day. Fluid retention, age, health issues, and even gravitational pull are reasons why our feet swell during the day. The difference from the beginning of the day to the end can be as large as a half a size.
When trying on shoes, you should, with two hands, bend the toe portion of the shoe toward the back of the shoe. If it bends easily, it is more likely to be comfortable from the beginning. Look for shoes that are made of calfskin, which conform to the shape.
If you are experiencing a foot problem, call one of our six locations to make an appointment.
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