Are wide shoes always the answer, or are wide toe box shoes the better solution to happier, stronger feet? Instead of conventional footwear shaping your feet, shouldn't your feet be the ones in control. Finding great fitting shoes starts with the toes and understanding how a great foot shaped shoe can make them happy. (We understand your frustration when your shoes limit your activities. Our active founder opened is own shoe factory to solve this problem.)
Are my feet actually wide?
When we were young, before our feet met their first shoe, we all had wide feet to an extent: our toes were the widest part of our foot. Why then would most traditional athletic and dress shoes get narrower at the toes?
Babies' feet are widest at the toes
Eventually, we begin wearing shoes that squeeze our toes into a space that is not wide enough for them. The tapered toe boxes of traditional athletic shoes and conventional office footwear place style over substance, creating manufactured shapes that constrain and alter our feet.
This continued pressure against our toes can turn them more into pointed triangles and less like our natural foot shape. The toes can begin to lose the ability to function as they were meant to—and things like balance, gait, and posture can all be affected.
A wide toe box (left) vs. the traditional toe box (right)
Many people can feel that there is something their feet don’t like with the tapered toes of most shoes. Everyone knows that uncomfortable feeling of being in a shoe that is too tight. When our feet are squished, we make adjustments even when we can’t pin down the problem. Maybe we try a shoe size larger or look for a wide shoe. Women will sometimes turn to men’s shoes that are constructed a bit wider for relief.For many of us, that feeling may not be telling us that our sizing is wrong, but rather our toes are telling us they are unhappy.
Are wide toe box shoes really what my feet are craving?
When toe-scrunching shoes are all we know, it can be hard to think that something more comfortable exists. Wide shoes offer more room throughout the entire shoe. Shoes with a wide toe box, however, provide that room at what is usually the widest part of the foot: the toes. After spending so much time in shoes with tapered toes, experiencing footwear that gives toes room to breathe can be a breath of fresh air. For many of us, that extra wiggle room is exactly what our feet have been wanting without us even knowing it.
Hobbits keep their toes free.
Shoes with a Wide Toe Box Means Toe Room For All!
When we designed our footwear, we chose to focus on providing a roomy toe box. With this natural foot shape, we are actually able to serve feet of different widths with the same shoe. Wide feet (EE) have found a good fit in the same shoes that can accommodate a standard or even a narrow width.
Here is a helpful guide to determined whether you have wide or narrow feet.
By choosing a shoe that is built around the shape of the foot, you get the width where it is most often needed (at the toes) while still fitting the heel and midfoot comfortably. It turns out that's what most feet want!
A Word on Foot Measurements:
Now, feet are notoriously hard to measure. Most often, we look solely at length and width when picking a size. When you use a 2-D sizing system to measure a 3-D object, you are limited in determining a good fit. Everyone’s foot holds its volume differently and sits differently in a shoe. In addition, our feet can change in size over the years—shoes that fit 3 years ago may no longer work for the same feet.
The best answer is always to try a pair of shoes with spacious toe boxes and see how your unique foot fits. This doesn't mean you have to purchase shoes only in person...when buying online, be sure to choose a company that allows for exchanges and returns to ensure you can get the right shoe fit.
At the end of the day, be sure to listen to your toes and trust your feet. They have a lot to tell us about what is most comfortable for them.
To learn more about the steps you can take when adjusting from traditional footwear to SOM's wide toe box shoes, please check out our blog, New to Barefoot Shoes?