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 his shoe factory to solve this problem.)
Are my feet wide?
When we were young before our feet met their first shoe, we all had wide feet: our toes were the widest part of our feet. 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 adjust even when we can’t pinpoint the problem. Maybe we try a shoe size larger or look for a wide shoe. Women sometimes turn to men’s shoes that are constructed a bit wider for relief.For many of us, that feeling may tell us that our sizing is wrong, but rather, our toes tell 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, classified as EE, offer more room throughout the shoe, and, it is the difference between wide-toe-box shoes for women and men. 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 fresh air. For many of us, that extra wiggle room is precisely what our feet have wanted without us knowing it.
Hobbits keep their toes free.
Shoes with a Wide-Toe-Box Means is different than wide shoes.
When we designed our footwear, we focused on providing a roomy toe-box. With this natural foot shape, we are able to serve feet of different widths with the same shoe. Wide feet (no more than EE) have found a good fit in the same shoes that accommodate a standard or even a narrow width.
Here is a helpful guide to determine whether you have wide or narrow feet.
By choosing a shoe built around the foot's shape, 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. We often 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 three years ago may no longer work for the same feet.
The best answer is 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, choose a company that allows for exchanges and returns to ensure you can get the right shoe fit.
How do I know if I need wide-toe-box shoes?
In brief, be sure to listen to your toes and trust your feet. They have much to tell us about what is most comfortable for them. We see it daily; when someone tries on a pair of wide-toe-box shoes for the first time, like our SOMs, we often hear: "Wow, those are comfortable!" Right then, they realize these toe shoes make a lot of sense (Well, our founder's story tells more about how he conceived the shoes with common sense.) In other words, toe shoes with wide-toe-boxes are for everyone with toes that need to spread to give balance and stability. This includes standard or "normal" feet, too.
Please check out our blog to learn more about the steps you can take when adjusting from traditional footwear to SOM's wide-toe-box shoes. : New to Barefoot Shoes?