The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

How To Find The Correct Shoe Size

Posted by on Friday, June 7th, 2013


Loyola University Medical Center researchers found a connection between running injuries and ill-fitting shoes in 2012. Injuries such as blisters, toenail problems, plantar fasciitis heel pain, foot stress fractures and sprained ankles are all related to “improper shoes, socks or training,” said Loyola podiatrist Katherine Dux. She said she treats anywhere from 200 to 400 patients a year for these injuries, and that most people buy shoes that are half to a full size too large or too small to allow for foot swelling and orthotics. So, if you have a tough time figuring out what shoe size you are, then you’ll be happy to know you are not alone.

Brannock Shoe Measuring Device

Remember that old metal device used to determine shoe size? When was the last time you saw that in a store? Do they even exist anymore? Dr. Steve Rosenberg, a podiatrist and CEO of Foot Products Enterprises Inc., told the Huffington Post that a Brannock device is the best way to find out the width and length of your foot. “There are many people who find, after measuring their feet, that they have one foot longer or wider than the other. This is a normal variant and there is nothing to worry about,” he explains.

Surprise – Foot Size Changes!

Bunion formation are bony abnormalities that cause the foot to become bigger over time. They are generally caused by a combination of genetics and wrong shoes. Weakened, elongated ligaments may also occur after a woman has given birth, since the relaxin hormone that allows the pelvic muscles to stretch during delivery also allows the feet to become longer and wider. It doesn’t always go back to the same size. According to the LA Times, fluids from leaky veins tend to collect in the feet — especially as we become older — causing the feet to swell. Then there is the constant force of pummeling our feet for years that tends to wear down the fat pads and flatten the feet out. Despite all these factors, we still imagine we’re the same shoe size we were in our twenties. A 2006 study of 440 veterans in their sixties revealed that only 25% of the men were wearing the correct shoe size.

Too Big Or Too Small: That Is The Question.

When buying a pair of shoes, you want to have about a thumb’s width between the tip of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. Sometimes one foot is bigger than the other. Always buy shoes that fit the bigger foot, as you can always add insoles to prevent foot slippage. Yet, little can be done to expand a shoe that is too tight. Narrow shoes can cause lower back pain, ingrown toenails, corns, bunions, blisters and impaired gait. No one wants that!

Buy Shoes At The End Of The Day.

It’s always best to buy shoes at the end of the day when your feet are most swollen. That way, if your feet swell during a normal day, you will still be able to cope. If you find that your shoes are a little too big and your arch becomes cramped from scrunching your toes, then you might want to try an over-the-counter product called “Instant Arches” to stop the foot from sliding and prevent skin irritation.

Consider Shoe Type.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends looking for shoes with square-shaped toe boxes that leave more room than pointier shoes. Heeled shoes should have a platform for better comfort, and ballet flats should have firm elastic that can hug the foot better. Men should buy soft, cushioned leather shoes that will form to their feet with wear. Do not feel rushed or discouraged if one brand of shoe doesn’t seem to fit just right. There are many fish in the sea!


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.