Harvard Health Letter

Foot problems? Try these tips to find comfortable shoes

Look for roomy toe boxes, soft inner soles, and sturdy heel counters to give you a better fit and help you stay on the go.


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Bunions, hammertoes, corns, and calluses all make shoe buying a chore. But the wrong shoes can impair your mobility and independence. "Pain from any of those conditions can alter your gait," says Dr. James Ioli, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School.

Corns and calluses

A corn is a protective thickening of the skin on a toe, usually on a bony portion. Corns may be hard (on top of the toes) or soft (between the toes). Corns typically develop from friction, often from tight-fitting shoes.

A callus is another type of protective thickening of the skin, and can develop anywhere on the foot. It's a flat, yellowish, hard layer. This, too, is the result of friction, either from shoe irritation or walking problems that place stress on the foot.

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