Shoes have a tough life – they’re bumped and scuffed through dust and dirt and mud, and worn for hours every day. It’s no surprise, then, that keeping your footwear in good shape is key to keeping your feet healthy.

  1. Make sure they’re the right size.

It may seem obvious that ill-fitting footwear will put your feet at risk, but podiatrists report that millions of Americans regularly wear shoes that are the wrong size. Small shoes will pinch your feet and squash your toes, while overly large footwear will feel insecure and rub against your feet, which in turn causes blisters.

  • When choosing new shoes, always have your feet measured by someone who’s been trained to do this. This is especially important if you’re buying shoes for kids.
  • Width is just as important as the size: Many people try to squeeze into shoes that are too narrow, especially when it comes to fashionable styles.
  1. Check that soles and laces are secure.

Worn soles will become slippery, which will lead to a much higher chance of falling, especially in wet or icy conditions. They’ll also become thin and lose their cushioning ability. And laces should always be securely tied – don’t cut corners by simply tucking them into the sides of your shoes. Inevitably they’ll work their way out and you run the risk of tripping and injuring yourself.

  1. Look for holes and heel damage.

Check for damage to your shoes’ heels, whether they’re high heels or flats, wedge booties or athletic shoes. Cracks, chips, things coming unglued or missing – all these things put you at risk for trips and falls. And holes in your shoes don’t only look unsightly, they also let in moisture and leave you open to potential puncture wounds.

The bottom line is that however good your shoes are when they’re new, they’ll inevitably start to wear as time goes on. Many people keep wearing old shoes for years, but this can cause serious foot health problems. Check your shoes and replace them regularly, rather than waiting until they’re completely falling apart.