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The nation's shoe buying habits

Research reveals the nation's shoe buying habits are causing unnecessary foot pain

New research released today (1 April) has indicated that 66% of adults who do not always try shoes on instore before buying them have experienced foot health problems, compared to just 53% of those that always do. People who skip trying on new shoes are twice as likely to report ingrown toe nails as people who always try on shoes before buying (22% vs 11%), while a similarly large number reported corns (14% vs 8%). 

The research by the College of Podiatry*, which investigated the nation’s shoe buying habits, also revealed that 68% of adults never get their feet measured, with a further 16% of parents admitting to never getting their children’s feet measured when buying them shoes. Respondents who never get their feet measured are twice as likely to go on to have general foot pain, compared to those who always get their feet measured (25% vs 13%). 

The research highlighted that, of those who buy shoes in store, 34% tend to buy their shoes before midday, which can lead to poorly fitting shoes. Consultant podiatrist Matthew Fitzpatrick from the College of Podiatry explains: “Our research has revealed that a surprising number of people don’t try shoes on before they buy them. Podiatrists recommend trying shoes on before buying them and also advise buying shoes in the afternoon as this is when your feet are at the biggest as they naturally swell throughout the day. If a shoe fitting service is available, it is worth having your shoes professionally fitted.” 

The survey of 2000 adults revealed that more than half (56%) have bought shoes online in the past year – further evidence of an increase in ‘buying before trying’. 

The findings are released ahead of this year’s Foot Health month, which is taking place in April and sees podiatrists around the UK sharing foot health information to encourage better foot care, and to raise awareness of where to look for help for foot problems. The survey indicates that nearly half of all UK adults (48%) have sought either treatment or advice for foot problems. Of these, only around one-quarter of people (26%) opted to visit a podiatrist to help with their foot pain. The most popular choice was to visit a GP (56%), which provides a worrying signal about the burden that foot health is placing on general practitioners. 

Matthew Fitzpatrick continues: “Our feet are amazing – they are a masterpiece of natural engineering and we rely upon them to help us stay fit and well. Without healthy, pain-free feet, we can’t walk, do sports or even relax properly. A basic knowledge of foot health care is essential for everyone – there are loads of things you can do to improve your foot care regime – and that’s what this year’s Foot Health Month is all about.” 

The College of Podiatry is raising awareness of foot health and how important it is to our overall wellbeing, throughout Foot Health Month this April. Visit www.cop.org.uk for more information on foot health care or to find a registered podiatrist near you.


Matthew’s tips for preventing some of the most common foot conditions 

Heel pain/plantar fasciitis – wear supportive footwear such as shoes that fasten securely with straps or laces and avoid walking barefoot too frequently

Ingrown toenail – trim your toenails regularly using nail nippers and cut straight across and not at an angle or down the edges

Bunion – Bunions are usually hereditary, but if you do have one, make sure they are not made worse by your footwear, by ensuring your shoes are wide enough and provide enough wriggle room for your toes. Keep heel height to a maximum of 4cm for greatest comfort

Athlete’s foot – dry your feet thoroughly after washing them, especially between the toes. People prone to fungal infections may find that dabbing in-between the toes with surgical spirit will help 


*A survey of 2,000 adults from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland conducted online on behalf of the College of Podiatry in February 2019.


Notes to Editors: 

About The College of Podiatry 

The College of Podiatry is the academic authority for podiatry in the UK, and an independent charity dedicated to foot health research, education and public awareness. The College is the professional body for UK registered podiatrists. Podiatry is the field of medicine that specialises in diagnosing and treating diseases and disorders of the foot, lower limb and associated structures.


For further information about the College of Podiatry or Foot Health Month or to speak to a podiatrist, please contact: 

Taryn Glenister / Cat Cambridge / Kathryn Race

Ceres PR

01189 475956



The College of Podiatry