How to "Read" Your Shoes

Buying new shoes? Bringing in old shoes when you're buying new ones can be helpful if you have a knowledgeable salesperson. The salesperson can evaluate the wear patterns to help you get a better fit as well as a style that will compensate for the stresses you place on shoes.

What are your shoes trying to tell you? Here are the basic wear patterns:


   Wear on the ball of the foot:

   Your heel tendons may be too tight. Stretch them with heel raises.


Wear on the inner sole:

You pronate or turn in. Inner liners or orthotic supports may help. 



     Toe-shaped ridges on the upper:

     Shoes are too small or you have hammertoes.


Outer sole wear:

You turn out. Orthotics may help.

  A bulge and wear to the side of the big toe:

  A too-narrow fit or you have a bunion. 

              Wear on the upper, above the toes:

The front of your shoe is too low.


The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) offers information on this site as an educational service. The content of FootCareMD, including text, images and graphics, is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnoses or treatments. If you need medical advice, use the "Find an Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Surgeon" tool at the top of this page or contact your primary doctor.