In the search for a good footwear fit, we might conclude that wide width shoes will comfort us.
This is often true, but not always. Knowing a bit about shoe fit and construction can help you sort the red herrings from the real sources of foot pain, which may or may not call for a wider shoe.
When considering a wide shoe, here’s what to keep in mind:
- A foot measurement that’s often overlooked.
- Brand and style considerations.
- Benefits of wide shoes.
- Tools for finding the right shoe.
Measure the Arch
The total length of your foot (heel to toe) and the width measured at the widest part of the foot are important to know, but they are not the only indicators of fit. Another critical indicator is the heel-to-ball measurement.
Two people might have the identical heel-to-toe measurement that translates to a size 9. But let’s say one has a relatively long sole with short toes while the other has a short sole with long toes. What’s crucial is finding the heel-to-ball measurement, which will reveal the arch size. If the total length of the foot is a size 9 but the arch size is 9-1/2, the long-soled person will need to wear a 9-1/2 in order for the shoe to fit properly through the ball and arch portions of the foot.
All the width in the world won’t fix an ill-fitting sole.
Brannock (the foot-measuring device company) illustrates the need for arch measurement.
Consider Variations by Brand & Style
Just as two people can have the same total foot length yet different arch sizes, feet also can vary in toe arrangement patterns, midfoot proportions and so on. You want to avoid putting a midfoot with a straight profile into a shoe with an hourglass shape, for example.
Besides matching styles to the shape of your foot, look for shoe manufacturers who seem willing to create more variations in sizing. That way, you have the best chance to find footwear that pleases you as much as a pair of broken-in jeans or other favorite comfy clothing.
Explore Wider Benefits than You Thought
Let’s say people have feet of the same length, width and arch measurements, yet they wear different sizes. How does that happen? It’s a difference in foot volume, with one person having thicker feet than the other.
Thickness and volume are not customary foot measurements, which might make you think shopping for comfort is a hit-or-miss proposition. That is not always the case.
- Feet that are wider tend to be thicker.
- A wider forefoot often means a wider midfoot.
The manufacturer of a good wide shoe isn’t just going to widen a sole, but will construct one that accommodates the other needs of the wide foot as well.
Narrow Down Wide Width Choices