As podiatrists, footwear is often a hot topic of conversation in our consults and is one of the key factors to our management of foot pain. Shoes come in all shapes and sizes with varying styles and brands available which can be overwhelming to navigate without direction.

We have compiled some of the most common questions we get asked to help you find your perfect pair of shoes!

What is a ‘good’ or ‘supportive’ shoe?

A good, supportive shoe is one that possesses several features. Very simply, there are 3 important factors you should look for:

  1. A firm heel counter – squeeze the back of the shoe and ensure it does not easily collapse.
  2. Flexion occurring only at the toes – flexion should not be possible along the entire sole of the shoe.
  3. A lace up or secured fastening option – this will ensure that the shoe will not easily move or cause increased toe grip as they would if you were wearing thongs.

Additional tips:

  • Wide forefoot to accommodate for bunions or other forefoot deformities
  • Depth – to accommodate an orthotic or a removable insole
  • Shoe material – leather may be firmer but last longer, a softer mesh may better accommodate toe deformities such as clawed toes

Where is the best place to find shoes?

There are many different styles of shoes so depending on the type of shoe you require will determine where to locate the shoe.

Most commonly we get asked about footwear for exercise or supportive fashion shoes that may accommodate an orthotic or insole. In certain circumstances we may recommend a specific shoe style but on the whole we prefer to leave the shoe recommendations to the experts as it is often difficult to guarantee each person will feel comfortable in a specific shoe we recommend.

In Adelaide we are fortunate enough to have several options of footwear stores so use them! Go into the store, try them and test them out. It is the only way to truly know whether you and your feet will like the shoes. Supporting local businesses also never hurts.

The following are some of our top recommendations around Adelaide for footwear:


Casual dress shoes:

  • Grundy’s (Jetty Road Glenelg, Rundle St, Victor Harbor)
    • Styles: Ecco, Revere, EOS
  • Ian’s Shoes (Jetty Road Glenelg, Unley Road, Norwood Parade)
    • Styles: Ziera, Vionic, Cabello
  • Pod Plus Footwear (Fulham Gardens, North Adelaide)
    • Styles: Xelero, Allegria
  • Frankie4 (Unley Road)
    • Styles: Jackie, Nat, Ali

How often should I replace my shoes?

Footwear replacement frequency will again depend on several factors. A shoe should be replaced when it has compressed (lost cushioning), the soles have worn down/lost grip, it is altering your walking or running pattern or pain has appeared or re-appeared (from a previous injury or site of pain).

If you are a runner, you can also track the mileage of your shoes with certain apps or smart watches. The research tells us that shoes typically have a lifespan of 300-1000 km* which is very indistinct but a good round-about figure to aim for.

Should I get a neutral shoe or shoes with arch support?

When shopping for shoes (sneakers in particular), you generally have 2 options with the shoe being either a ‘neutral’ or a ‘stability’ shoe. A neutral shoe means it acquires the same level of material density across the whole sole of the shoe. A stability shoe will possess increased material density either on the inside (medial) aspect of the shoe sole or outside (lateral) aspect of the shoe sole or both.

The sneaker world is comparable to the fashion world; things constantly change and what was once old fashioned eventually comes back in style.

At this point in time, neutral shoes are taking first place for a lot of sneaker brands with stability shoes slowly dwindling out. Our recommendation would be that if you are unsure what would best suit your feet – get a podiatrist to assess your walking and current footwear to determine which would work best for your foot type. A neutral shoe would typically suit an orthotic-wearer better given that changes to support can be made directly to the orthotic device as opposed to trying to make direct changes to the shoe itself. If you needed a little more arch support without orthotics then perhaps a stability shoe may be a better fit.

How should I clean my shoes?

If we could recommend one thing, it would be to NOT put your shoes in the washing machine. It is possible that your shoes may contain water-soluble materials which can deteriorate the internal structure of the shoe with each wash.

Our advice would be to hand wash your shoes with warm, soapy water focusing on the outer aspect of the shoe as opposed to the interior. You may also be able to remove the insoles and hand wash these separately.

Air dry your shoes in indirect sunlight and spray the interior with a tea tree solution to prevent the overgrowth of fungus.

Written by Louisa Paraskeva (Podiatrist at Adelaide Sports)

* Escamilla-Martínez E, Gómez-Martín B, Fernández-Seguín LM, Martínez-Nova A, Pedrera-Zamorano JD, Sánchez-Rodríguez R. Longitudinal Analysis of Plantar Pressures with Wear of a Running Shoe. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Mar 5;17(5):1707. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17051707. PMID: 32151033; PMCID: PMC7084282.