When searching for new shoes, foot health is not always prioritized, but selecting a shoe designed for your foot shape should be your main consideration. While most people wear standard width or medium width shoes, there are those whose foot shapes would benefit from wider width options.
The width of the shoe is an often overlooked shoe feature, yet it can significantly impact foot health. A wide shoe can provide numerous benefits that contribute to a better fit and proper foot and lower body alignment. In this article, we’ll look into the reasons why opting for shoes with a wider width can be one of the best decisions you make for your feet.
What is a Wide Width Shoe?
Shoes come in a variety of widths to accommodate different foot shapes. Most shoe manufacturers only produce standard or medium width shoes. You will occasionally see a style with a wide width. However, shoes can range in widths from extra narrow to XXW and even wider, up to a 14E width.
The width of the shoe refers to the measurement across the entire shoe, including the toe box, midfoot, and heel areas. While you can have wider (or narrower) width measurements from heel to toe, some shoe styles only have a wide toe box area. This allows more room solely for the toes.
Wide Width Shoe Vs. Wide Toe Box
Depending on the shape of your foot, you may still wear a standard width shoe but need a wide toe box. A wide toe box is generally for people with a broader forefoot rather than a wide heel area. In traditional shoe designs, the toe area is often narrow and tapering, which can potentially cramp your toes and lead to various foot problems. If you have a broad forefoot, a wide toe box allows your toes to spread naturally and will distribute weight evenly across the foot.
A wide width shoe is for those that have wider feet from heel to toe and need more space in the shoe to accommodate their foot shape. Now that we have explained shoe widths, let’s look at how to determine when you need to wear a wide width shoe and the benefits they offer.
Determining If You Need a Wide Shoe
As stated previously, standard width shoes work for a majority of the population. However, if you need a wide shoe, there are a few signs that can help you determine if need a wider width.
Toe Cramping – if your toes feel cramped or pinched, you may need a wide width or wide toe box shoe. You may also feel tingling or numbness at the toes if they are too tight. Try wiggling your toes in the shoe – they should be able to move freely.
Bulging at the Side of Shoe – If you notice your current shoes are bulging at the toe box or midfoot it can be sign that a wide width shoe can benefit you.
Calluses or Blisters – If you get blisters or calluses on the sides of your feet, this can indicate that your shoes are too narrow and rubbing on the interior of the shoe. A wide width shoe can help prevent this unnecessary friction.
Improper Foot Position – When trying on the shoe, the arch support should directly contact your arch area. If your foot is not properly seated in the shoe, it can indicate that the shoe is too narrow.
The Benefits of a Wide Width
Toe Comfort and Foot Health
A primary advantage of wide width shoes is the enhanced comfort it offers. When your toes are allowed to spread out naturally, it can help improve your lower body biomechanics and reduce pressure points. It also helps to reduce developing other foot issues such as bunions, hammertoes, and corns. Furthermore, cramped toes can lead to discomfort and pain, especially during extended periods of walking or standing. A wide width shoe helps alleviate this discomfort and promotes overall toe health.
2. Proper Alignment
Wearing a shoe that accommodates your feet helps with balance and stability. If your toes are squished, it can throw off your balance and affect your gait. This misalignment may even lead to knee, hip, and back problems over time. Opting for shoes that accommodate your feet helps maintain proper alignment, reducing the risk of such issues.
3. Prevention of Foot Conditions
Wearing shoes that are too narrow can contribute to the development of various foot conditions. Conditions like Morton’s neuroma, where the nerve around the toes thickens and causes discomfort, can be exacerbated with tight-fitting shoes. A wide width can play a significant role in preventing such conditions by minimizing pressure or friction on your feet.
4. Enhanced Blood Circulation
When your toes are constricted due to narrow shoes, it can hinder blood circulation to your feet. Good blood circulation is vital for overall foot health, as it ensures that your feet receive adequate oxygen and nutrients. Adequate room inside the shoe allows for better circulation, reducing the risk of numbness and tingling often associated with poor circulation.
5. Comfort for Specific Foot Conditions
Individuals with specific foot conditions, such as bunions or wide feet, can greatly benefit from wider width shoes. The added room provides extra space needed to accommodate these conditions without causing discomfort or exacerbating the problem. For those dealing with these type of foot conditions, a wider width can be a game-changer in terms of comfort and relief.
How to Choose the Right Shoes
Now that we have covered the benefits of a wide width, how do you go about choosing the right pair of shoes? Here are a few tips:
Try Before You Buy: Always try on the shoes and ensure that there’s enough room in the toe box for your toes to wiggle comfortably and there are no pressure points on the sides of shoes. Ensure the arch support fits in your arch area.
Choose brands that offer wider widths: Some shoe brands specifically design their footwear with a wider toe box and a variety of widths to choose from. Styles from these brands might be a good place to start.
Measure Your Feet: Get your feet measured at a shoe store or by a professional shoe fitter to determine your exact size and width, so you can make informed choice on your next pair of shoes.
In conclusion, choosing the right shoe width for your feet can be beneficial to your overall foot health and comfort of the shoe. By providing ample space to accommodate your foot shape, you can prevent a range of foot issues and enjoy better balance and stability. So, the next time you’re shopping for shoes, remember the importance of choosing the right shoe width and treat your feet to the space they deserve.