How To Know If You Have Wide Feet?
A common oversight by runners when shopping for running shoes is opting for the wrong width, ending up with ill-fitting shoes. You have your foot length hammered down, but what about the width?
Runners with wide feet often run with shoes that are the right length, but the shoe doesn’t feel right. More often than not, that slightly uncomfortable fit is due to narrow shoes.
Your foot should cradle comfortably in the insole, and your pinky toe should never teeter on the edge. If your pinky toe spills over the edge of the insole, your running shoes are too narrow.
So, let’s figure out how to determine if your feet are wide or narrow and what you can do to solve this issue.
Understanding Shoe Sizes
Before we bust out the ruler, let’s first dive into how shoe sizes work. You’ve been buying shoes for years, and you likely have your standard shoe size down.
If you wear a women’s size 7, this number references your foot size length, not the width. While a size 7 will prevent your toes from jamming at the end of the toe box, you may find that your pinky toes slip over the edge of the insole. If that’s the case, you may benefit from a wider shoe and avoid bunions, corns and blisters.
Not all shoe manufacturers offer their shoes in wide options, but many have been jumping on the bandwagon in recent years. Knowing the length of your foot is super important, but it’s also essential to measure the width of your foot as well.
When shopping for shoes, look for letters attached to the numerical size. A indicates a narrow fit, D indicates a standard width, and E means a wide fit.
Before you opt for a wider shoe, you will need to take a few measurements first!
Measuring for A Wide Foot
The easiest way to measure your feet is to head down to your local shoe store and have the pros bust out their old-fashioned Brannock Device to take super detailed measurements of your feet.
This fitting shoe method is hands down the best way to measure for wide feet (or narrow feet) because the pros at the shoe store can offer personalized shoe recommendations.
If you prefer to shop from home, there is a super simple way to measure for wide feet with a few tools you likely have sitting around the house.
Before our width-measuring class can begin, you will need to gather a blank piece of paper, a pencil, and a ruler.
Step 1. Place your foot onto the blank piece of paper (make sure the paper is on an even surface), ideally at the end of the day. Your feet naturally swell throughout the day, so measuring in the evening will give your a general idea of how your feet swell while running.
Step 2. Place notch marks on the widest part of your feet (often slightly below the pinky toe and the ball joint of your big toe). Remove your foot, and then take your ruler to measure the distance between these two spaces. That number represents your width.
Step 3. Compare your width to standard sizing charts. Let’s say that you wear a men’s size 10, and your width is 4 3⁄16 inches. After consulting the shoe-sizing chart, you can determine that your foot is slightly wider than average, and you can benefit from a wider shoe.
Why Buying A Size Up Won’t Work
Lydiard Lacing system, Pinterest
You’ve found the perfect pair of shoes, but right before checkout, you discovered that they aren’t available in wide sizes. One of the biggest mistakes runners make is opting for a half size larger to accommodate a wider foot. The numerical size of the shoe denotes the length of the shoe, not the width.
If your favorite brand doesn’t carry wide sizing options, there are a few ways to work around this problem. It may not work for everyone, but it may work for some.
First of all, always opt for shoes with a nice rounded toe box, and never a toe box that is tapered. Brands such as Altra, Brooks, and New Balance, for instance, are brands that are notorious for their nice and roomy toe boxes.
Tinkering with the laces is also an excellent way to accommodate a wider foot. If your pinky toe isn’t slipping over the edge of the insole, but the upper squeezes the life out of your foot, try the Lydiard Lacing system (also known as straight bar lacing).
Standard criss-cross patterns put a lot of pressure on the top of your foot, and opting for a straight bar lace is a great way to reduce pressure.
What Causes Wide Feet?
There are plenty of causes of wide feet. For many, it’s just a matter of genetics. Some people are just born with feet that are slightly wider than average, and it’s perfectly normal.
It can also be a matter of age. As you get older, gravity causes the joints and ligaments in your feet to spread out over a lifetime of walking, jogging and running. Again, it’s perfectly normal.
Something as simple as weight gain can be why your feet are slightly wider than average. Added fat doesn’t just stop at your thighs – it can also collect on your feet!
If you have been diligently dieting and losing weight, it may be time to measure your feet again and size down.
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