Incorrectly fitted footwear, foot pain and foot disorders: a systematic search and narrative review of the literature

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Authors: Buldt AK, Menz HB

Publication: Journal of foot and ankle research

Year: 2018


Correct footwear fitting is acknowledged as being vitally important, as incorrectly fitted footwear has been linked to foot pathology. The aim of this narrative review was to determine the prevalence of incorrectly fitted footwear and to examine the association between incorrectly fitted footwear, foot pain and foot disorders.


A database search of Ovid MEDLINE and CINAHL yielded 1,681 citations for title and abstract review. Eighteen articles were included. Findings were summarised under the categories of (i) children, (ii) adults, (ii) older people, (iii) people with diabetes and (iii) occupation- or activity-specific footwear. Differences in footwear fitting between sexes were also explored.


Between 63 and 72% of participants were wearing shoes that did not accommodate either width or length dimensions of their feet. There was also evidence that incorrect footwear fitting was associated with foot pain and foot disorders such as lesser toe deformity, corns and calluses. Specific participant groups, such as children with Down syndrome and older people and people with diabetes were more likely to wear shoes that were too narrow (between 46 and 81%).


A large proportion of the population wear incorrectly sized footwear, which is associated with foot pain and foot disorders. Greater emphasis should be placed on both footwear fitting education and the provision of an appropriately large selection of shoes that can accommodate the variation in foot morphology among the population, particularly in relation to foot width.

  • Listing ID: 6626
  • Author/s: Buldt AK, Menz HB
  • Publication: Journal of foot and ankle research  
  • Year: 2018