Do you need a wider shoe? Here’s a quick way to check.

This article was originally published in The Raider Patch: Magazine of the U.S. Marine Raider Association

Are your shoes or boots too tight? Even if you’ve worn the same size for years, you may start to notice discomfort. This is because your foot size and shape can change throughout your lifetime – sometimes up to a full size bigger!

If your footwear is too tight, blood flow to the muscles will be restricted, and your foot will be unable to spread naturally to absorb shock. In addition, a constricted foot can cause over-pronation, where the foot collapses inward too much over the edge of the shoe’s platform. 

Here’s a quick way to check the width of your shoe compared to the width of your foot:

Does your foot spill over?

Remove the liner inserts from your shoes and stand on them. The size and shape of the liner should match your foot all the way around. Any spillage of your foot or toes over an edge of the liner means that the shoe will have to stretch to accommodate the difference. The resulting foot “overhang” is likely to cause blisters and pain down the road.

If you notice spillage, trade up a size or width of the shoe and recheck.

Here are some other helpful tips:

When in doubt, go wider!

It’s easier to add a thicker sock to get the fit just right. A shoe that’s too narrow will compress the muscles and blood vessels in your foot, leading to pain and injuries. Also, if the shoe is too narrow, your foot may stretch out the fabric over time and spill out over the shoe’s sole, causing blisters and other injuries.

Don’t substitute a larger shoe when you need a wider size.

Sometimes, people buy too large shoes to accommodate their foot’s width. Remember that your foot will slide around in a shoe that is too large. If you need a wide shoe, look for a brand and/or model that comes in different widths.

Know that some shoes labeled as wide may not be.

For most major running shoe brands, a wide size means that the platform (sole) is cut wider. However, I have seen plenty of shoes over the years labeled as wide when they weren’t! Instead, more upper material had been added to the toe box area, making the shoe taller.

Excerpt from the book “Which Running Shoes Are For Me? A Ten-Step Guide to Evaluating Any Shoe,” by Rita Chorba and Dave Chorba, 2021, ISBN: 9798507156740.

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