How Should Running Shoes Fit? 10 Tips To Find the Best Fit
- Wearing ill-fitting running shoes can lead to pain and injury like blisters, joint pain, hammer toe and more.
- Finding the right running shoe includes looking for the right width, toe, midsole, heel and top-of-foot fit.
- Remeasure your feet each time you buy new running shoes to ensure the best fit.
- Pick the running shoes that best fit your fitness goals and preferred activity.
- The KURU ATOM offers a secure, flexible fit with stability, support and cushion.
Whether you’re an avid runner or starting from scratch, running is an excellent source of exercise that keeps you active while enjoying the great outdoors. Running can improve cardiovascular health and comes with other health benefits like strengthening muscles and bones and promoting a healthier lifestyle.
If there’s one thing every runner can agree on, it’s this—your running attire can make or break your experience, and it especially rings true for your footwear. Wearing the wrong running shoe can lead to severe pain, making it challenging to enjoy running or improve your technique and speed. Fit also makes a dramatic difference in the functionality and comfort of your running shoes.
So, how should running shoes fit? We’ll explain each factor that can affect the fit of your running shoes and give you 10 tips for finding the right shoe every time.
Fit Check: Finding the Right Size Running Shoe
Even when wearing a top-of-the-line running shoe, you could still suffer foot pain and injuries if it doesn’t fit right. From the width to the toe fit to the top of the foot, various factors affect how your running shoe fits. Let’s take a closer look at these factors and how your running shoes should fit in each region of your foot.
Does it ever feel like you’re shoving your foot into a shoe rather than sliding it on? What about when you’re standing up? Do you feel pressure on the outside of the foot? Or do you notice your toes squishing together? These are all signs that your running shoe is too narrow.
To accurately test the width of your running shoe, try this trick:
- Remove the insoles of the shoe
- Lay the insoles flat on the ground
- Stand on the insoles
- Shift your weight and note whether the bottom of your foot spills over the sides of the insole
- Notice if your foot is wider than the shoe’s insole—this indicates that the shoe is too narrow
A properly fitting running shoe will have enough room to eliminate any squeezing, especially in the toes and near the ball. Be aware of any excess space around the outside of the foot. Too much room could lead to slipping and blisters.
The way your toes fit into a shoe has a substantial impact on the overall fit and feel. Improper toe fit can lead to hammer toe, bunions and ingrown toenails—all of which will influence your running performance.
So, how can you tell if a running shoe fits your toes properly? It’s all in the thumb!
Slip on your running shoes and stand up. Now take note of where your longest toe rests. From the tip of your longest toe to the front of the shoe, there should be about a thumb’s width of space. If there’s not enough room, consider sizing up (or down if you notice excess room).
The midsole of a shoe is the layer between the outsole (the bottom of the shoe) and the upper shoe. It is the most important part of the shoe’s cushioning system and provides shock absorption and support for the foot when you’re on the go. That said, it’s essential that the midsole fits just right when you’re looking for running shoes.
The midsole should be snug against the bottom of the foot without pushing the foot into the top of the shoe. As you walk or run, you should feel the cushion absorb the shock of your foot striking the ground. Make sure your arch fits comfortably against the midsole, which will provide essential support for your foot and ankle.
One of the most dreaded feelings is when blisters form on the back of your heels due to improper fit. When trying on running shoes, make sure the back of your heel fits snuggly against the shoe while leaving some space in the toe box.
To measure the heel fit of a running shoe, lace it up normally and stand. Bend over, hold the back of the shoe, and slightly lift the heel of your foot. Note if your heel slips or rubs against the shoe. Slipping indicates that the heel doesn’t fit tight.
If the shoe seems to fit everywhere else but your heel is slipping, you might try lacing your shoelaces through the extra eyelet at the top of the shoe. Doing this will tighten the shoe further and possibly solve the problem. If you still notice your heel slipping after adjusting the laces, consider going down a half size.
Top of the Foot
When trying on your running shoes, pay attention to how the shoe feels across the top of the foot. You should be able to wiggle your toes, shift your weight and walk without feeling any restriction. Additionally, you shouldn’t notice gaping or sliding around in the shoe.
A shoe should fit snugly, but not too tight across the top of the foot. The upper part of the shoe should comfortably hug the foot without causing any pressure points or discomfort. Do you notice any markings or imprints on top of your foot when you take off the shoe? If so, it’s far too tight across the top of your foot. Your feet becoming numb while wearing the shoes indicates the top of the shoe fitting too tightly.
You may consider loosening your shoelaces in the middle of your foot to adjust the fit, but if this doesn’t work, try a different running shoe that offers more room.
10 Tips For Finding the Best Fit
Now that you know how running shoes should fit in all the different areas of the foot, you’re ready to start trying on some shoes. Here are 10 tips you can use while trying on running shoes to ensure you get the best fit.
1. Remeasure your feet. It may sound unlikely, but our feet can fluctuate in size even after our bodies stop growing. For the best fit, consider remeasuring your feet from the back of your heel to the tip of your longest toe. Then you can use the below chart to find your current shoe size.
|Women’s Running Shoe Sizes|
|Men’s Running Shoe Sizes|
Disclaimer: The above charts are a reference guide to finding your closest shoe size. It’s important to remember that shoe brands and models may vary in size.
2. Wear the same socks you will run in. Your socks have a significant impact on how a shoe fits, especially when running or doing physical activity. Wear your preferred athletic socks to get the most precise fit and feel when trying on a pair of running shoes.
3. Fit the shoe to the largest foot. It’s fairly common for one foot to be slightly larger than the other. If you find that this is the case for you, opt to fit the foot to the larger foot.
4. Try shoes on at the end of the day. Your feet may expand throughout the day, leaving your shoes feeling tighter than when you first put them on. Consider trying on new shoes at the end of the day to give you a better reference for how the shoes will fit throughout the day.
5. Account for any swelling while running. Have you ever noticed how your feet and ankles swell at the end of a run? You’re not alone. Leave some room for swelling when purchasing and lacing up your running shoes. Your shoes should never feel like you’re squeezing into them, even after a long run.
6. Examine the soles of your current running shoes. When you’re ready to buy new running shoes, look at your current pair. Is there anything about these shoes that you didn’t enjoy? Can you solve that problem with your next pair of running shoes? Alternatively, what did you like about these shoes? Look for those same qualities in your next pair.
7. Consider your training goals. Are you a casual runner? A long-distance runner? A marathon trainee? A sprinter? Using shoes built for a different type of training can lead to discomfort or injury, so do your research ahead of time to pick the right shoe for the occasion.
8. Adjust the laces for a better fit. Your shoelaces can make a significant impact on the fit of your shoes. Whether you have a wide forefoot or a narrow foot, you can lace your shoes differently to improve the overall fit.
9. Think about overpronation or supination. You can correct both overpronation and supination with proper footwear. Overpronators should look for shoes with good arch support and stability features, while supinators should look for shoes with good shock absorption and flexibility.
10. Take your shoes for a test drive. Of course, you can’t take the shoes for a run, but you can walk around in your house or store to get a feel for them. Make sure you test them out and get a sense of their comfortability before making your final decision.
Comfort Comes First
Running is many things—a stress reliever, a form of exercise or even just a hobby. The last thing you want is pain and injuries caused by a pair of poor-fitting running shoes. If you find that your motivation to run is lacking due to pain, it may be time to start at the source and reconsider your shoes.
So, how should running shoes fit? To sum it up nicely, the running shoe should fit snugly around the entire foot but shouldn’t feel tight or uncomfortable. Give your toes room to expand while running and never wear shoes that slip off the heel.
When you’re in the market for a new pair of running shoes, check out the KURU ATOM, which offers a secure yet flexible fit and a wide base for added stability. And don’t forget about the KURUCLOUD midsole that provides the ultimate cushion to protect your feet and joints while running.
- Cardiovascular benefits of running. Is running associated with a lower risk of all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality? (November 2019)
- A cushioned midsole can reduce joint pain and injury. Systematic Review of the Role of Footwear Constructions in Running Biomechanics (March 2020)