Should Running Shoes Be A Size Bigger? Myths & Facts You Need To Know

If someone from the street says “Man, yo’ kicks are tight!” he isn’t referring to the fit. He just thinks your shoes look cool. However, the way a shoe fits can be even more important than how they look. This is especially true of running shoes. Many people complain that certain brands of running shoe are not “true to size” and it is recommended that you go at least half a size up. Should your running shoes be a size bigger?

should running shoes be a size bigger

The Quite Literal Rule of Thumb

Here is how to tell if a running shoe fits properly. Press your thumb crosswise on the tip of the toe of your shoe. There should be just enough room between your longest toe and the end of the shoe for the width of your thumb.

Any more than that is too loose. Any less than that is too tight. The shoes should not squeeze the width of your foot. Because sneakers are worn more snugly than dress shoes, you may find that your sneakers are half a size to a whole size larger than your other shoes.

Why Running Shoes Sometimes Feel Too Tight

This is an expected occurrence in children who are still growing. The child’s feet gradually grow until they’re too big for the shoes. If the shoes are still in good condition, they may be handed down to a younger child. Some parents have found their children outgrew their shoes practically overnight and now they have to carry them into the shoe store to get new ones.

Such an incident was played out on an episode of Sesame Street in a “Here is Your Life” segment. Right Sneaker was separated from his owner and twin brother when she took them off on the way home from school because they were so uncomfortable.

Left Sneaker became part of a found art sculpture and Right Sneaker found himself in a used clothing store, where Oscar the Grouch stepped in and decided Right was perfect for his rotten sneaker collection. Happy endings for everyone!

Too tight shoes might not feel like a happy ending for an adult who is sure they’ve stopped growing. There are many reasons why an adult’s shoes may suddenly feel too tight. Here are the three most common.

  • Toenails Are you sure it’s your feet? It could be you just need to trim your toenails. It is not only uncomfortable to let your toenails grow, but it’s also unhealthy. Cutting them is simple. If you have thick nails a hot soak in a shower or tub will help. If your nails bend or tear easily, do it while they’re dry. Cut straight across. File them down if they seem a bit rough after cutting. Most toenails grow two millimeters a month so it’s good to cut them at least once every six weeks. Active persons may do it more frequently.
  • Middle Age Spread Our feet can change shape as we age. Some young men may not come to their final shoe size until they reach their late twenties. Older people may feel their feet losing their natural support and getting flatter and wider. By age fifty, the foot will have lost nearly half of its natural padding. The tendons will have lost their elasticity. A person in their fifties may wear a size larger than they did in their twenties. This is especially true for people who held jobs that required them to be on their feet a lot.
  • Pregnancy “Frau Gothel, tell me why it is that my clothes are all too tight. They no longer fit me.” Rapunzel said in the original Grimm’s Brothers recollection of the old fairy tale. (Sanitized versions just have her be a loose-lipped dimwit.) It isn’t just dresses and blouses that feel too tight in pregnancy. The feet swell up as well making shoes too tight. Don’t be barefoot and pregnant! Get some roomy, comfortable shoes to wear. Considering you’re going to be on your feet a lot when Junior gets here, you may want to keep them around. Especially when you consider that pregnancy hormones cause ligaments to relax.

Other reasons could include injury, water retention, weight gain or standing for long periods. Each of these instances can be treated in their own way. The important thing to remember is to make sure your feet are fitted properly.

How Do You Measure Feet Properly?

The easiest way to measure your feet is to go to a shoe store and ask one of the salespersons to measure your feet for you. They will bring out a tool known as a Brannock device. The Brannock device is most often used in growing children, but adults concerned that their feet are changing can use it too.

It’s a very simple measuring device that can accurately determine just what size shoe you need. A digital device is in the works, but currently, it’s pretty much the same straightforward method used since the Twenties when it was patented. You may want to get both feet measured just in case.

You can also do it at home with a pen, paper, and ruler. Wear the same kind of socks you would wear while running and stand on a blank sheet of paper. Use the pen to trace around the shape of both feet. You can then use a ruler to measure the greatest length and the greatest width of your feet. This will help you decide what shoe size you might need.

Is It a Good Idea To Get Shoes a Size Bigger?

Tight shoes are uncomfortable, but shoes that are too big can also cause problems. Excess rubbing on the heels can cause a blister. Duchess of Essex Megan Markle thinks that buying large shoes can prevent blisters and bunions, but this is actually counterproductive. Too large shoes can lead to pain in the arches, neuromas, and Achilles tendonitis. It is also a walking tripping hazard akin to running around without shoelaces tied.

Keep in mind that while you are running your feet may swell up a bit. You do want some room for your feet to have breathing room should they swell a bit. Some advocate getting half a size larger than you usually get.

Keep in mind that sizes can change from one brand to another so it is a good idea to try shoes on first. Try putting the same type of shoe in two different sizes at the same time and compare how they feel.

Take into consideration whether you jog slowly over long distances or run quickly for short sprints. Fast runners need snug shoes to help with the pace. There is a common myth that good shoes make a good runner.

Not so. It is not the shoes; it is the person in the shoes. The only way shoes can make you a better runner is if they are comfortable enough to make you want to run. Practice makes perfect in all things including running.

Myths and Facts About Running Shoes

Let’s look at some other common myths about running shoes. Better yet, let’s look at the facts so we can learn the truth.

1. MYTH: Running shoes need to be broken in.

FACT: Running shoes should feel comfortable right away. If your shoes don’t feel right as soon as you put them on, pick a different pair.

 

2. MYTH: Sneakers need to be replaced every six months.

FACT: Sneakers need to be replaced when they need to be replaced. Generally, shoes need to be replaced after three hundred miles. If only shoes had an odometer! If you don’t want to be the man who walks a thousand miles to fall down at your door, you need to check the wear on your sneakers. Look at the spaces between the grooves on the sole. Do you see the cushioning foam poking through? If the tread is worn thin, it’s time for new shoes.

 

3. MYTH: Width is the same as volume.

FACT: People who believe this need to go back to junior high and pay attention in geometry class this time. Volume is the measurement of the space inside the shoes. It is a combination of width times length times depth. Width is the distance from one side of the shoe to another, generally measured across the ball of the foot where it is widest.

Because a shoe is irregularly shaped, the volume can’t be figured out as easily as with most solid prisms. The best you can do is put the shoe on and measure the width between the top two eyelets when you have tied it tightly enough to be comfortable. The width should allow two fingers, not more or less. Wearing shoes with the wrong amount of volume can lead to plantar fasciitis.

 

4. MYTH: Any store that sells shoes will do.

FACT: You’re better off at a specialty store. Isn’t it annoying when you go to a store and the salesperson knows nothing about the product? Like at an art store where the salespeople scratch their heads at the idea of paper having teeth. Or asking someone at a department store what kind of storage their laptops come with and getting “The carrying cases are sold separately.”

It may cost a little extra but it is worth it to consult with experts on feet and shoes. The brick-and-mortar stores are becoming less popular due to online shopping but you are really better off being able to physically try on shoes and speak with a flesh and blood person.

Some Tips on Lacing

How you lace your shoes can affect how they fit. If the volume in your shoe is a little off, lacing them in a different way can affect how they feel. Try these methods to see which works best for you.

Does your heel slip too much? Do you just need a little more toe room? If so, you may want to try a lace lock near the top of your shoe. What this should do is pull your foot back towards the heel of the shoe. This will aid in stopping the slippage and thus provide a more comfortable fit.

Does the top of your foot fall asleep or get irritated easily? If so, you most likely have a high instep. Your shoe is not offering your foot all the volume that it needs. You need a lace pattern that has more slack to it, going to the eyelet above rather than across. This lacing pattern will give you the additional room you require for a more comfortable fit.

Does your foot slide around a good deal in your shoe? Does tightening the laces not help? If this is a problem, simply follow a lacing pattern with less slack, particularly near the bottom. This lace locking system will lower the surplus volume in your shoe to deliver a more secure fit.

Conclusion

There’s no real answer to the question of whether running shoes should be a size bigger. Running shoes should fit. They should be snug but with a thumb’s width at the toe and two fingers’ width at the top two eyelets. Just get shoes that feel right for you.

Attribution to www.nm.org

References:

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