When it comes to fitting shoes it’s not quite as simple as measure and see what shoes are available in that size. Size does not matter! It is only a number. Every foot is unique and requires a detailed analysis before any attempt is made to fit footwear. When we measure your feet on one of our gauges, the size given is the starting point from which to begin our assessment of what shoe is right for you. This gives a small insight into some of our thought process every time we are fitting shoes
All brands make their footwear differently, and within each brand several styles will be made on different lasts. This means that when we measure your feet it may not correspond exactly to the final shoe size that you are fitted with. At Precious Soles we fit the footwear to your feet to guarantee comfort, support and as much longevity as is possible.
Bellow you will find some of the things we have to consider as shoe fitters to be able to find that perfect pair of shoes for your feet. The best advice we can give to anyone about buying shoes, is always get them fitted by someone who is trained to understand how to measure and assess the foot and its function, and then translate that into a pair of shoes that will work for you.
A new-borns foot is more akin to jelly with bits inside, there are bones, but they are not connected in any way. As a child grows and develops these bones and connective tissue structures like ligaments, tendons, muscles and cartilage all develop to form the foots shape and give it its function. The foot is usually fully formed in the late teenage years.
When a child wants to learn how to walk it is important that it does so as naturally as possible, being able to feel the ground helps with learning weight distribution, balance and toe function. This is also why pre-walker shoes have no actual structure, they protect the foot from hazardous objects, but they don’t interfere with foot function when they are fitted correctly and fastened tightly.
A child is ready for their first pair of well-structured shoes when their arms drop, they are walking confidently and they prefer walking to any other method getting around. In-Store we usually describe this as “they don’t look drunk anymore”. Structured shoes should not be worn before this point unless a Doctor has specifically recommended it. Once walking has become a staple part of a child’s day to day, its important that the shoes on their feet help support the structures that are still forming and developing, this is why we look for certain key elements in footwear construction that, will aid in supporting the foot, but not restricting healthy foot function or development.
Now that the foot has formed and the bones are connected what happens? Does the foot just stop changing? No, because the ligaments and tendons that support the bones of the foot are not ridged structures, there is always a potential for the foot to change shape as the body matures.
Research shows that over 80% of adults are either in the wrong size or ill-fitting footwear. On average a human walk’s around 150,000-200,000 miles in their lifetime, that’s hundreds of millions of steps. The human body is also, like all things on earth, subject to gravity, and it also has a mass. This means that every time a foot strikes the ground it will spread out. Over time this causes the foot to very gradually change shape, and often the size of footwear a person needs will increase.
It is impossible to say exactly when feet will change shape, especially in children where growth is not only at random times, but also in random amounts. We therefore have recommended checking times based on average speed of growth between certain ages.
First Walkers: 4-6 weeks
Toddlers: 8-12 weeks
Primary School: 3-4 months
Teenagers: 4-6 months
If, however, you notice a growth spurt between these recomended times please come in to be checked as we promise only to recommend the purchase of new footwear if children’s feet have grown in size or the integrity of the footwear has been compromised through wear.
While adults change size and footwear less frequently, it is still important, especially with sports footwear and footwear that is worn on a daily basis, to be checked at least once or twice throughout the year.
The Brannock Device
The Brannock device is the most detailed way of measuring feet aside from getting measured for a bespoke handmade pair. It takes 3 measurements, overall foot length, medial arch length and width. It is one of the oldest devices in the footwear industry being designed in 1927, and aside from prototype to final product and having the numbers change to suit, European, UK, US and many other countries sizing charts its functionality has not changed at all.
When we check the fit of any footwear we need to understand how the foot is functioning inside it. Our foot has 2 very natural flexion points, one is at the ankle, although this very rarely has restriction (unless required), its important to know that the ankle does and should move. The second is across the distal end (furthest point away from) of the metatarsals, this is where your toes will felx. This is a natural movement that your foot does to make actions like walking and running more efficient.
When we fit shoes its vitally important that the points of the foot that flex naturally correspond in position to the parts of shoe that flex naturally. This allows the wearer to feel like their foot and the shoe are 1 and the same. This lets the foot to function normally without compensating from the toes being compressed, from the joints having to work harder to flex a non-flexible part of the footwear or curling to grip something that is too long.
Overall Length vs Heel to Ball
(photo: comparison of long and short toes can measure overall same size)
One of the single most important parts of measuring feet is understanding how these 2 measurements work together to give us the best starting point for trying on shoes.
Overall length shows your fitter the total length of your foot (in shoe size) from the back of your heel to the tip of your longest toe. Your longest toe won’t always be your 1st toe but you can read more about that and different foot types here.
Heel to ball length measures the length of the foot from the back of the heel to the 1st Hallux (ball of the foot). This length is also known as the length of the medial arch. The medial arch length is vital to know when fitting shoes as it’s the 1st point in the foots gait that will be required to flex the footwear.
The Arches of the Foot
The foot has 3 natural arches, the Medial Longitudinal Arch, the Transverse Arch and the Lateral Arch. The arches are designed in such a way that they act as a natural shock absorber. As they are also home to many tendon insertion points. They also have a propulsive and stabilising element when the body moves or is under load.
The Medial Longitudinal Arch is located, as by its name, on the medial side (inside edge) of the foot. It is the longest and highest arch of the foot, and when it comes to fitting footwear is usually the arch that has the biggest effect on size, depth and style.
When using the Brannock device, we are able to achieve a more accurate width measurement relative to foot length. As the Brannock gauge always gives us 2 measurements of length, width therefor can often be a variable. For this reason, gauges are only ever used as a guide or starting point for the fitter. Unlike other measuring devices the Brannock measures in “pure” width, it only takes into consideration the actual width and not the depth. You often find that on measuring devices for smaller feet we still use a ribbon gauge for a child and only when they are seated, as this gives us an estimated reading of how much the depth of the foot will affect the width when the foot becomes weight bearing.
Our unique footwear adaptation service is one of the services that makes us stand out above other footwear retailers.
We use adaptations in cases where a foot is extremely narrow or wide, where an instep is extremely high or flat, where orthotics are present, and in some cases for prescriptive reasons from podiatrists and other medical specialists.
Please note we will not make adaptations if we do not deem it absolutely necessary for the fit of the footwear and for the improvement of gait style.
Our in-store adaptations, depending on complexity, usually take between 5-15 minutes. Our more complex adaptations which involve deconstruction of the footwear can take up to 3 weeks depending on the adaptation.
As each adaptation is unique and every shoe is different, the price for each adaptation is quoted before any work is started.