The Working Group

There is a slowly increasing body of evidence to support the belief that footwear is potentially harmful to the human foot. In November 2007, the findings were published of an expert group consensus event in which the criteria for the recognition of healthy footwear were considered and agreed. The group comprised of expert representatives from both clinical and industry backgrounds.

Following this work, the group has reconvened as an Executive Committee known as “The Healthy Footwear Group”. The purpose of this group is to actively translate the findings of the consensus event into practice, in the form of a “Healthy Footwear Guidelines” scheme.

In this, the guidelines which have been produced are being promoted to the public, industry and professional groups alike. Shoe manufacturers can sign up to the scheme by declaring an intention to support the manufacture of products in certain ranges that will meet the designated criteria. They can then designate products which that they feel meet the guidelines and these products will then be allocated a symbol of recognition, which can be identified by the public when seeking to purchase healthy footwear. The group itself is non-profit making, but administers a small charge (price on application to treasurer) to participating companies, to cover its’ basic administration costs.

The group publishes lists of participating footwear manufacturers on the web site, and confirms that nominated footwear products do comply with the guidelines, when this has been asserted, by a process of random sampling.

It is hoped that the scheme will help to raise awareness of the value of healthy footwear and enable customers to make informed choices when purchasing footwear. In doing so, it is envisaged that the scheme should help to reduce the number of footwear-related foot health problems.

The scheme is currently supported by the Independent Footwear Retailers Association and the Society of Shoe Fitters. Further information about the scheme can be obtained from the Healthy Footwear Group Treasurer.

What are the Healthy Footwear Guidelines?

  • Toe box allows normal foot function
  • Adequate width and depth for foot function
  • Sole encourages normal foot function
  • Soft flexible upper and lining
  • Stable heel of approximately 25mm
  • In shoe climate which promotes a healthy environment within the shoe
  • Shoe provides reasonable cosseting
  • Shoe retains its’ fitness for purpose
  • Shoe must offer good foot retention
  • Availability of product advice
  • Outsole grip meets industry standards

Aims of the Guide

  1. Help people to recognise the key features of footwear that will most likely offer a healthy and comfortable fit
  2. Encourage companies to manufacture shoes with these key features
  3. Encourage companies to join the Healthy Footwear Guide and actively promote footwear with these key features
  4. Help people find shoe stores that can advise on the correct fit of this footwear
  5. Offer advice to people who cannot get to a shoe store on the key fitting properties to look for when trying Healthy Footwear Guide recommended footwear