Why do I need to size-up in my running shoes?

By Elizabeth Jenkins

The best answer to this question is more questions.

“Do you want to lose toenails when you run?”

“Do you want black toenails?” (and no,  I’m not talking about revisiting your punk rocker days)

“Do you want blisters on the ends of your toes, heels, etc?”

“Do you want disfigured feet when you are older?”

I don’t know about you, but I answer a resounding “NO” to all these questions.

It can come as a shock to the customers I fit for shoes when they realize that their dainty 8’s are thriving in an ever so “unflattering” 9! Panic sets in when the shoe they have fallen in love with is a whole size bigger than what they are used to.  They think that something must be wrong even though the shoe feels amazing…”like they aren’t wearing a shoe at all”. Trust us, you will want the extra room (about a thumbs width from the end of the shoe), and here is why.

When you run, your feet swell.  Everyone swells differently, some more than others, but everyone swells to some degree. I happen to be a sweller and I have to wear very thin socks. My regualar shoe size is an 8.5, but I can’t get away with anything smaller than a 9. I’ve tried it and it was miserable. I ended up shamefully walking the last portion of my run because I couldn’t feel my feet anymore.

Another reason to size-up is because when you run, your feet will slide forward just a bit. Having the extra room allows your foot to move forward without ramming into the end of the shoe, smashing your little piggies.

Swelling and smashing cause a host of problems other than the cosmetic ones above. Hammer toe anyone? Didn’t think so!  Small shoes can also aggravate Plantar Fasciitis and anyone who has had PF will tell you preventing it is way easier than getting rid of it.

In summary, my best advise is to trust the sales associate who brings out your “huge” shoes.  I like to compare accepting a bigger size to when I buy clothes and my usual size doesn’t fit and I have to size up. It makes me want to cut the tags out of my clothes! This really is a ridiculous notion  because no one has ever asked me, hey, what size are your jeans today, they look bigger than the ones you wore yesterday…  The same goes for running shoes. No one is going to say, your shoes look too big (unless of course they really are too big).

Bigger shoes can take some getting-used-to, but in a short while, you will be wondering how you ever ran in anything smaller.


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