How to Know You Need a Wide Running Shoe

Do you need a wide running shoe?

One of the most common questions I get is: How do I know I need a wide running shoe?

Do you need a wide running shoe?

Unless you’re fitted by a professional, it’s hard to look down at your feet and know you need a wide shoe. Runners who need a wide shoe might be in the right length of shoe, but the sizing still feels “weird.” That’s because the width isn’t right. It’s a lot more common to need a wide running shoe than you might think!

What are some reasons you need a wide running shoe?

  • You have a wide foot: It’s actually much more common than you think.
  • Bunions: Your heel might be narrow, but bunions mean you need a wider toe box (fear not, many brands only widen the toe box of their shoes)
  • Neuromas: You need extra room for your feet to splay.
  • You lose your pinky toenail or constantly have a hole in the side of your running shoe.
  • You are just more comfortable: let comfort guide you, and if you are most comfortable, you need a wide running shoe.

How should a running shoe fit?

Your foot should fit comfortably in the shoe with about a thumbs length between your toes and the front of the shoe. It should feel secure but should never feel tight. You don’t want your pinkie toes rubbing against the edge of the shoe. Most people don’t realize that running shoes should feel slightly big. You never want them tight.

Do all running shoes fit the same?


Just like pants, you might find yourself wearing a variety of running shoe sizes. In the running world, I wear anywhere between a women’s size 10-11 wide. That’s 10, 10 wide, 10.5, 10.5 wide, 11, and 11 wide that are currently in my running shoe rotation. There were some points of time around 2016 that running shoes wear running so narrow that even the wides didn’t feel great.

How to understand running shoe sizes:

  • If you wear a women’s size 10, the 10 is the length. You might see a B (regular width), D (wide), or 2e (double-wide)
  • If you wear a men’s size 10, the 10 is also the length. You might see a D (regular width), 2E (wide), 4E (double-wide), 6E (triple-wide). Note there is no 3E in men’s running shoes.

As you have probably discovered, not every running shoe is made wide. While brands have gotten better, there aren’t enough wide running shoes, especially in the racing scene.

How Can You Measure Your Foot?

I can’t say this enough but get measured at your local running store. Local running stores know shoes and foot shapes better than anyone and can fit you with the right shoe.

Plus, current models are the same price at running stores or online.

Measuring your foot at home:

  • Wait until the end of the day when your foot is the most swollen (yes, your foot is bigger at the end of the day or the end of a run)
  • Place your foot on a blank piece of paper
  • Make notch marks at the wide part of your foot. For many people, it’s just below the pinky toe. Measure the distance between these two notch marks.
  • Compare your width to your favorite running shoe. If your foot width measurement is any amount larger than the “regular width” (yes, even a fraction of 1 mm), you can benefit from a wider shoe.

Why Can’t you Just Buy a Size Up?

Buying a half size up isn’t going to change the width of the shoe. It’s just going to make it longer, and you may find yourself creating holes in the sides.

So Do You Need a Wide Running Shoe?

My point is this: don’t be afraid to go into a wider running shoe. Most people will benefit from the extra room when their feet swell.

You Can See All Current Shoe Reviews Here.

Looking to learn more about running shoes? In my ebook, I talk about why you need a good running shoe, a shoe’s anatomy, neutral vs. stable, and even myths of running shoes.

Questions for you:

Do you need a wide running shoe?

What is your current favorite running shoe?