Here's my tiny little feet. Tiny little size 5.5 feet that have caused me significant problems over the years! Why am I sharing them with you? Well, because something WONDERFUL has happened. No, they haven't straightened out or anything...there is still so much room under my high arches, you could seek shelter from the rain. But finally, FINALLY, I have found the perfect shoe!
Here's my tiny little feet in the perfect shoes...they are 'Berries' brand, from Aetrex. 'Blackberry Helen Stretch Mary Jane' shoes, to be more precise. The wide toe box accommodates my toes, my braces, even my wool socks...and since I got the 'stretch' MJ's, they are stretchy and comfortable. I love them! And I have never loved a pair of shoes.
Why? Well, because high arched crooked feet and the perfect shoe do not MIX. Something is always uncomfortable. Usually they hurt in the toe area, because I have hammer toes, which is common in people with CMT. When your muscles weaken over time in one part of your foot, the stronger muscles have more control over your foot structure, and your feet start changing. The arches get higher (if high arches are one of your symptoms; other types of CMT have flat feet, and experience other problems.) The feet pull inward, and the toes eventually 'curl' into what they call hammer toes. And over time your shoe choices get more and more narrow, until it seems that all you can walk in are unattractive, and uncomfortable shoes.
I have been wearing the same brand of shoes for years; Teva sandals...which are expensive, and normally not found in stores. Not that I frequent shoe stores anyway, since it is usually an unpleasant and embarrassing experience. Teva sandals work well once I break them in, though they pinch my toes a lot in the beginning. They also have holes cut into them (which is why they fit under the 'sandal' category.) And living in Upstate NY means the weather doesn't always allow for that...one day last week we actually had a high of 8 degrees, so you can see what I mean! Anyway, when the opportunity to get a CMTA's Premium membership for a year (for $30) came with the offer of a free pair of shoes from Aetrex, I was sceptical...even though they are a company known for their customizable shoes with a variety of sizes and widths available, I still didn't fully believe it. But I knew that other people who wear braces or orthotics have been successful with their shoes, so I figured I'd throw caution to the wind and get a pair. I mean, they were free...right?? But still, I assumed they wouldn't work and I'd end up sending them back. I know...I'm a cynical shoe buyer, and I can't help it.
I had two main worries...the first would be that the shoes would hurt in the toes, and feel like I was trying to walk around with them stuck in a vice. The other worry was that the ankle strap wouldn't be high enough, which is another issue I deal with when trying to shop for shoes...since I have Helios braces, there are no ankle straps to hold my feet in them, so my shoes have to do that. If they aren't high enough on the ankle, my crooked feet like to POP right out of everything, making walking impossible. But again, the word free kept creeping into my mind, so I put my worries aside and gave it a shot. First I got the CMTA membership, received my Aetrex coupon and started scouring their website. I really found one shoe that interested me and I thought might fit my requirements...the Mary Jane. One feature of their site I found interesting is that you can see the image of the shoe from all angles, so you can get a really good look at the toe box and the way they're shaped. All of their shoes are available in regular sizes, wide widths and even extra wide. Because of the braces I need shoes larger than my 5.5 feet, so usually I wear size 7. I stared at the shoe for probably 1/2 an hour, then took the plunge and ordered size 7 wide. Because of the coupon, my shoes that were $112 dollars (including $5 shipping,) only cost me $5. Even more surprising? I got them 2 days later!
Another bonus is that I get 50% off of any other shoes I buy from Aetrex, because of being a premium member of the CMTA...and the best part? The Stretch Mary Janes also come in brown! If you wear braces or orthotics, or even just have wide feet and find it difficult to shop in regular shoe stores, check out Aetrex shoes...they have men's and women's shoes, sneakers and boots (link below.) And consider getting a premium membership at the CMTA, so you can benefit from access to the CMTA newsletter, therapy videos, 20% off of purchases from CMTA stores, and the bonus of a free pair of Aetrex shoes...you may be very surprised at the results!