How Should Running Shoes Fit?

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How well your running shoes fit is the most important factor of running shoes. An ill-fitting pair will cause you problems, including blisters and even stress fractures. As you read through this guide, you will learn some tips on how should running shoes fit.

Benefits of Finding a Perfect Fit

When wearing the ideal running shoe for your feet, some of the ways you’ll benefit include the following:

  • A more comfortable run
  • Pushes you to keep going
  • Reduces or removes the occurrence of blisters, bunions, and calluses
  • Helps keep you focused on your performance instead of thinking about your feet

A running shoe can affect how you run if the fit isn’t right, and it can cause foot strain that may lead to injury in your feet, legs, back or neck. Weeks or months of wearing an ill-fitting pair of running shoes can also lead to problems such as heel pain, tendonitis, stress fractures, missing toenails, plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains, and worse. The correct sizing should prevent many potential issues.

Confirm Your Foot Measurements

First, you’ll need to determine the length and width of your foot. A proper fit leaves enough space in the toe area and support, so your foot does not slide or move around.

Measure Your Bigger Foot

Our feet are not the same size; one is usually larger than the other. You’ll find the right fit based on the measurement of your largest foot. Try drawing around them by placing them on paper to work out which foot is bigger. Then measure the longest and widest parts to compare their sizes.

How to Measure for Shoe Fit

A good running shoe size is generally half a size bigger than the other shoes you wear to go out or work. Allow at least 1/2 to 1 inch between your longest toe and the shoe’s end to get the correct length. You can use the width of your thumb to verify this. If you start running in a pair without this amount of space, you may begin to get bruises on your toes or, even worse, lose your toenails!

Another consideration is sock thickness. For a precise shoe length and width measurement, measure how well a shoe fits wearing the type of socks you intend to wear with them.

Try on a Few Pairs

Before getting to the fun part of a trying-on session, you’ll also need to consider when you try them on, as this contributes to the right fit. Our feet are at their biggest after exercise or at the end of the day. If you can, try on shoes following physical activity or more toward the later part of your day for a more accurate fit.

Ensure that the pair you try on is approximately a half size bigger than your regular shoe size. This will leave the additional room required for when your feet expand due to increased blood flow and swelling during and after exercise.

Check for Enough Room

Choose different running shoes from several brands. Then, with your running socks on, once you get your feet into a pair of shoes, use your thumb’s width to check the length between your longest toe and the shoes’ ends. You can also slide your feet right to the front of the shoe, then check whether you can slide your thumb in the heel.

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How Should Running Shoes Fit

How Your Running Shoe Should Fit

When shopping for your running shoes, it’s key to remember that some styles and brands will feel different from others. But ultimately, how it fits should remain the same. So, when trying out a few pairs, look for the following.

Mid-Foot and Heel Fit

Across your mid-foot and heel, the fit needs to be snug but not tight. You should have enough space to wiggle and move your toes in the toe box (toe area). If your shoe is too tight around the mid-foot or across the heel, it may cause hotspot issues when you run.

However, if you allow too much room, your foot will move around in the shoe more than it should. This will cause problems, especially for your heels, because heel slip over time will cause blisters on the back of your foot.

If you have thinner ankles or heels, it’s worth considering purchasing a heel pad or a heel cup to help fill out the additional space in the back. And there are various lacing techniques available to help you lock down the heel.

Check the Lace Tightness

Ensure that the laces are tight enough to lock the shoe over your navicular bone—the bony bump over your arch or instep’s high point—but not so tight that it restricts your blood and nerve vessels. Tie them loose enough to slide your finger between the knot and the shoe.

Shoe Volume

Shoe volume is a measurement of the space inside the shoe. A good indicator of correct shoe volume is by looking at the eyelet.

Take two fingers and place them vertically across the top eyelets. Your shoe volume is about right if you have approximately two finger-widths of space between the top eyelets. However, if you only have one finger space between the top eyelets, the shoe volume is a little big, and you’ll need to cinch the laces together to get a good lockdown across your mid-foot.

A running shoe without enough volume may not be a case with a wider fit. Try on different models and brands and see which design fits the best.

Walk or Run Around

Walk—and preferably run—wearing the pair that feels the best so far. Ensure that your heel doesn’t slip, and you can’t feel any pinches or uncomfortable rubs against your ankles. Also, inspect the overlay fabric. If it gathers, you may need a tighter fit, and if it stretches or bulges, you may need to go slightly bigger.

Repeat Previous Checks with Other Pairs

See how the other pairs feel. Don’t go with one that feels tight, thinking it’ll stretch. They need to fit well from the start. Some parts of the shoe, including the cushioning and the midsole, may mold to your feet better with mild wear. However, this will not contribute to the fit or sizing.

The better your running shoes fit, the more comfortable you’ll feel when you start running in them. Once you’ve found the perfect fit, the shoe will disappear from your consciousness. You won’t be thinking about them, as you’ll be focused on your run. This will make your running experience more pleasant and comfortable and reduce injury risk.

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How to Know When It’s Time to Change Your Running Shoes

A decent pair of running shoes will last between 300 and 500 miles. So, when running in them, consider tracking your miles. This way, you’ll know how many miles you’ve done in them. Although most trainers are designed for the typical runner, your build also affects how quickly your shoes last. If you’re taller or heavier than average, your shoes may wear out quicker and last on the lower end of the 300–500-mile range.

Another way to tell it’s time to change your running shoes is if you’ve started to get new, mysterious aches and pains throughout or after your run. For example, as you run, you may experience shin splints, muscle fatigue, or joint pain if your shoes have lost cushioning. If you feel the same discomfort in both legs, it’s a clear indicator that your shoes need replacing.

You can also tell by inspecting your shoe for signs of wear and tear.

  • Worn upper: If the sides have worn through and the sole is fine, you may need a larger pair, stretch laces, or shoes with a strengthened upper
  • Soft midsole: If the midsole feels soft and doesn’t spring back and collapses under pressure, it’s time to purchase a new pair
  • Inside heel fraying: This could indicate the wrong size due to the friction from your ankle, wearing it down as you run
  • The heel counter (responsible for heel stability) becomes less supportive
  • The shoes don’t stand straight when placed on a flat surface

There’ll be many signs when it’s time to replace your shoes. To avoid injury, purchase a new pair when it’s time.

A Training Shoe Match Made in Heaven

When finding a running shoe to match your foot’s length, width, and shape, start by understanding how it should fit and feel. Based on the size of your largest foot and a running shoe half a size bigger than your other shoes, there are a few key points to remember.

First, there should be at least 1/2 to 1 inch between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. The fit across mid-foot and heel should be snug but not tight. Your toe area should have room to wiggle, and when your toes are pushed to the front, you should be able to fit your thumb down into the heel area.

If possible, perform a test run in your desired pair. You’ll know that you’ve made your match when your feet don’t slip or rub uncomfortably on any part of the shoe.

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