Everywhere I go, I see people wearing shoes that are poorly fitted—my wife loves to point out women whose toes are hanging over the edge of their sandals.
Unfortunately, I see this issue a lot—apparently, almost 90% of all women willingly wear shoes that are too tight for their feet! How can you tell if your poorly fitted shoes are causing you harm? Read on for my four tell-tale signs. If you check off one or more warnings, it’s time to invest in a different pair of shoes! (Don’t worry, I’ve got tips for that, as well)
Clear Signs Your Shoes Don’t Fit
1. Your toes touch the tip of your shoe
There should be a little space between the end of your toe and the start of your shoe—literally, enough for some wiggle room. Feet swell throughout the day, so what fits in the morning may become too snug in the evening without that extra bit of space. To ensure a good fit, shoe shop in the afternoon, when feet are at their largest.
2. You have bruises, blisters or calluses on your feet and nailsAny one of these injuries could mean that your shoe is rubbing you the wrong way, meaning it’s either too tight, too short or too narrow for your foot. Over time, the pressure from the ill-fitting shoes can cause your skin to harden or even change the direction of your bone and nail growth, leading to bunions and in-grown nails.
3. Your arches hurt at night
If your shoes are too big, or lack proper support, the muscles on the bottom of your foot tighten up every time you walk in order to keep your arch lifted. While this flexing keeps the loose shoe in place, it also puts stress on your tendons, setting you up for the chronic inflammation of plantar fasciitis.
5. Your sneakers look old
Running wears out your shoe’s support, which is why I recommend swapping out sneakers after you’ve logged around 400 training miles in them. A shoe that’s pounded the pavement for longer than that distance is probably not giving you the protection you need, even if it still feels like it fits you properly.
And speaking of old-looking sneakers, if this last tip applies to you, keep reading for my advice on purchasing a well-fitted pair of athletic shoes.
How to Score the Perfect Pair of Sneakers
- Know when to ditch the old model: Your sneaker has a shelf life—about 400 miles, give or take. If you run regularly, that means they may only last 4 months—if you’re logging upwards of 30 miles a week, you might need to replace them even sooner. No matter how great the shoe, once it’s worn out, your feet will start to hurt. Period.
- Find Your Arch Type: Use the simple test I described in this post, then shop for a shoe designed for your arch type.
- Test them out: Each shoe is made differently, so even if one pair has all the features you theoretically need, you still want to wear them for a bit before purchasing. That’s why I like shopping in a store made for runners like Fleet Feet where you can actually run in a pair of sneakers before committing to them.
- Divide and conquer: Many runners swear by having separate shoes for training and for racing, allowing them a lighter sneaker for competitive runs, while still making sure their feet are supported during training. This practice also has the advantage of making sure your foot doesn’t always step the same way, which decreases the likelihood of repetitive injuries like stress fractures.
Need more guidance on shoe fit and shopping for the right kicks? Come into our office for a comprehensive foot exam to make sure you’re in the perfect pair!