How do you measure feet? Feet have been measured for years by something called a Brannock
Device. The Brannock Device is used to measure three basic
the foot; (1) heel to the ball (HB) of the foot , (2) heel to the tip of the toes (HT)
and (3) width. Each of the measurements obtained using a Brannock Device are
used in combination to custom fit the shoe. The most important measurement
is the heel to the ball of the foot. The HB measurement most closely
resembles how the shoe is designed to function. Although the heel to toe
(HT) measurement may intimately decide the fit of the shoe, the HB measurement
is what makes a shoe feel and function well. The HB measurement defines
the position of the arch, the length of the shank and the location in the sole
where the shoe will bend with each step. If the HB measurement is
incorrect, the shoe and the foot will never function in harmony, instead they'll
fight each other with each and every step.
Most feet will swell approximately one shoe size (5%) over the course of a
day. It's wise to measure your feet after you've been on them for several
hours. One measurement that The Brannock Device doesn't measure is volume
within the shoe. As you feet swell, they begin to take up more and more
volume within the shoe. Therefore, try to remember to shop for shoes later
in the day.
The science of shoe fitting, called pedorthics, is centuries old. The
first documented history of shoe fitting dates back to 1324AD when King Edward
II of England decreed that three barley corns would constitute and inch.
He also stated that one barley corn (1/3) would represent one full shoe
size. This custom of sizing varied so that numerous arguments ensued and
most cobblers went back to the tradition of custom fitting each and every
shoe. The expense of custom shoes was out of reach for most
commoners. For the vast majority of the population, shoes consisted of two
layers of leather, one thick for the sole and another thin for the top of the
shoe. The two layers were sewn together for a 'custom' fit.
Although we've worn shoes for thousands of years, our current sizing methods
are a mere century old. In 1880, the first uniform shoe sizing method was
introduced in by Edwin B. Simpson of New York. Simpson's method
defined each incremental shoe size as 1/3 and each half size as
1/6. In addition to a standardized length size, Simpson defined the
heel to ball measurement and the first proportional relationship between length
and width of the shoe. The measurement of the width of the shoe increased
in increments of 1/4 per increase in shoe size. Going from an A
width to a B would increase the circumferential measurement of the foot by
1/4. In the same light, going from a size 7 to a size 8 would also
increase the inner dimension of the shoe volume by 1/4.
Even though sizing and custom shoe fitting has become a science, many stores
still struggle with conversions between American (inches) and European (metric)
sizing. Shoe sizes also vary from manufacturer to
manufacturer. But most importantly, remember that sizing is simply a
General steps for fitting shoes (in-store)
1. Shop for shoes at the end of the day - your feet will
be slightly swollen so that the fit will allow for swelling in the future.
2. Use the one finger test - once fitted, you should be able
to fit one finger between the shoe and the foot at the back of the heel and at
the top of the arch.
3. Don't forget to bring the socks or hose you normally wear
when shoe shopping.
4. If the shoe is right in the length but just a shade sloppy
in the width, use a
tongue pad to tighten up the shoe.
Steps for specialty fitting - hard to fit feet of medical conditions that
require special care
1. Seek out the help of a trained pedorthist to help you.
The training and expertise of a pedorthists is money well spent.
2. Always insist on measurement with a Brannock Device.
3. Fit the foot, not the problem. For instance, when
fitting feet with bunions, fit the shoe to the foot. Then modify the shoe
to accommodate the bunion. This can be accomplished by spot stretching the
shoe or adding a dart of material to 'pocket' the bunion.
4. Look for shoes with a rigid shank. The shank of the
shoe carries mechanical force out to the ball of the foot and significantly
improve foot function.
5. Avoid synthetic material. Buy leather when possible.
General steps for fitting shoes (on-line) -
The past several years have seen an explosion of growth in on-line shoe
sales. Purchasing shoes on-line presents with the challenge of how to
'virtually' fit shoes. Sizing varies by manufacturer, therefore returns of
on-line shoe purchases are commonplace.
My eShoe has come up
with an innovative method that builds upon the
science of the old Brannock device and enables
buyers of shoes on-line to purchase with confidence. Watch for their logo
when buying shoes on-line.