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There's no doubt shoes come in a slew of styles, shapes and colors.

Though their appearance might be the first thing that attracts us to them, it's not the most important aspect to consider when choosing your next pair.

Gwen Graystone, clinical specialist at St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago, said it's important to get the right fit with shoes to prevent problems that crop up when they don't. 

“Shoes that are ill-fitting can lead to blisters, pressure sores and ankle injuries,” said Graystone, who hosts workshops on properly fitting shoes. 

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, shoes that are too tight or don't match the wearer's foot shape can cause disorders such as bunions, corns and calluses.

People may be accustomed to purchasing a certain size, but they shouldn't focus only on the number on the box. The AAOS indicates sizes can vary by shoe brand and style, so people should pay more attention to fit.

If shoe stores have different surfaces, such as carpet, tile and wood, walk on all of them to make sure shoes fit properly.

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It's also important for people to have their feet measured regularly because feet can grow as people get older.

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Graystone said having feet measured once a year is generally sufficient. People could have their feet measured more frequently if there has been a major change in their foot from surgery, a bunion or other issues, she said.

New Balance in Merrillville and Fleet Feet in Schererville offer assistance with the proper fit in athletic shoes, Graystone said. In addition to taking measurements, these stores assess walking and running patterns, she said.

People should avoid buying shoes that are tight in the hopes they will stretch after wearing them.

“Some materials may stretch, others may not, but always better to start with proper-fitting shoes rather than hoping they will stretch to the right size for comfort,” Graystone said.

And purchasing shoes online can present challenges because people can't try them on.

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