It happens too often, we find an outstanding pair of shoes, but unfortunately, it’s not available in your size. Going too small is a guarantee for pain, but what are the effects of wearing shoes that are too big?
When seeking guidance, most sites are likely to tell you that going bigger is always better than small. There are ways to alter a big shoe, but how far can you shrink it? Today, we’re talking about why it’s best to leave those ill-fitting kicks in the closet.
The effects of wearing big shoes:
- Bunions and hammertoes.
- Metatarsalgia (pain in the ball of the foot).
- Increased chance of falling.
- Pain throughout the body.
Importance of Wearing Proper Fitting Shoes
While searching online regarding shoes that are too big, you may have come across celebrities and royalty claiming to wear one size up. This is to allow extra wiggle room, particularly when wearing heels. However, this isn’t necessarily an example to follow.
Finding footwear that fits properly, i.e., not too loose or tight, will provide an optimal platform for your feet. Remember, it’s your feet that support the weight of your body as you walk and stand. So the shoes must support your feet to maximize their performance and avoid aches and injuries through your whole body.
When you buy shoes, always pick those that fit comfortably. It’s a good idea to re-measure your feet before going to the store, especially if you’re changing the brand. Sizes vary greatly between manufacturers, so be sure to measure the length and width—we have a brief guide further down.
In saying this, there’s one exception to this rule, and that’s when buying sneakers. With this type of shoe, it’s often best to go for half a size bigger than what you’d typically wear.
This is because we usually choose to wear sneakers when walking or standing for prolonged periods. When remaining upright or during weight-bearing activities, fluids accumulate in the feet due to gravity, causing them to swell slightly.
If your sneakers are your regular size, they’re likely to feel too snug, which, in turn, restricts circulation. However, when they’re slightly larger, blood is allowed to circulate, minimizing swelling and keeping your feet supported and comfy.
Effects of Wearing Shoes That Are Too Big
We’re all probably well aware of the effects of wearing small shoes—blisters, calluses and bunions are common ailments. Big shoes, however, also have their fair share of ills:
- Wearing big shoes can alter your natural stride. Instead, you may end up walking in an unnatural, and even dysfunctional way as your heel keeps slipping out. You may also contract your toes with every step to correct this, which could lead to foot problems, such as bunions and hammertoes.
- Blisters aren’t an exclusive issue when wearing small shoes. Shoes that are too big will rub against your feet, creating friction, a guaranteed recipe for blisters.
- Shoes that are too big, especially heels, can trigger foot corn. This is a type of callus that develops due to excessive pressure on the toes.
- You can also experience something called metatarsalgia, which is pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot. Although snug-fitting shoes are a common cause, large, unsupportive footwear can also aggravate this ailment. It’s essential to seek treatment as the pain can be paralyzing and could result in Morton’s toe syndrome.
- Shoes that are too large can also increase your chances of falling because they don’t provide sufficient support. Your feet may glide around inside, which could be disastrous when walking up or down stairs, or when wearing heels.
- If you’re a runner, wearing the wrong sized footwear may decrease your performance. Due to the lack of support, more pressure is concentrated on the calf muscles, minimizing the propulsive forward force.
- Big shoes also put you at risk of other painful conditions such as Achilles tendonitis, arch pain and neuromas. It can even affect your whole body, including your neck, back and knees.
Signs That Your Shoes Don’t Fit
The minute you put on a small shoe, you’ll know that it doesn’t fit. Unfortunately, it’s not the same with shoes that are too big—this issue generally goes unnoticed until you feel the burning blisters. Here are a few ways to check whether they’re on the big side:
- If the shoes have laces, make sure that you tie them as you would normally. If the panels overlap, or you feel the need to continue tightening them, then they’re probably too wide.
- When you’re wearing the shoes, walk around the room and note how your feet move in the shoe. Are they sliding backward and forward? Or do they feel loose around the sides? If you’re catching yourself curling your toes to prevent slipping, they’re too big.
- While you’re walking around, take note of how your heel sits. If it keeps slipping out as you walk, try a smaller size.
- You may also be able to notice it just from looking. There shouldn’t be a gap between your heel and the shoe. The same goes for the sides—if there’s a clear gap, they’re too wide.
- When seated, press down at the front of the shoes to feel for your big toe. There should only be a small space between the toe and shoe, about the width of a thumb. If you sense that you can compress the top down to the footbed, it isn’t your size.
- Be careful when sizing leather shoes. Leather tends to feel tight when new, which is why many boots and shoes of this material require a break-in period. Because of this, it’s okay if it feels snugger as it’s likely to stretch over time.
How to Measure Your Feet for Shoes
Before we get into it, if you’re buying boots, we recommend reading our guide on how to measure foot size.
Measuring your feet is simple and you can easily do it from home. This is what you’ll need:
- Two pieces of paper.
- Ruler or measuring tape.
- Pencil or marker.
- Flat surface.
This is what you’ll do:
- Start by attaching a piece of paper to the floor with tape. Choose a spot on a flat level surface—avoid carpets.
- Place one foot firmly on the paper. Bend your leg slightly so that your shin is in front of your ankle.
- Take your pen and outline your foot. You may need a friend to do this part.
- Remove your foot and use a ruler to measure the length and width of your foot. Measure from the widest and longest parts for accurate results.
- Repeat with the other foot.
You can watch this video for more tips.
- If you’re planning on wearing socks, wear them while you measure. They can add bulk, which is worth considering.
- If one foot is bigger than the other, use the larger one as your guide.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Can I Do If My Shoes Are Too Big?
If you’ve already bought shoes that are too big, you may be able to fix it. Of course, this depends on the type as well as how big it is. Here are some simple hacks:
- Try to wear thicker socks or even multiple pairs—this works best with athletic footwear. It could add half an inch of bulk, which may be enough. However, this might not be the best idea in the summer when it’s hot out.
- For a quick solution, use a type of stuffing to fill out the excess space. You can use cotton balls, tissue paper and even toilet paper. This is a fantastic trick for closed-toe heels, flats and dress shoes, but not so much athletic wear.
- Insoles are a great solution that works with most shoes. They usually consist of foam or gel and work as a soft pad providing cushioning and support. They’re generally utilized to help posture problems and feet discomforts. We’ve covered many reviews for varying footwear situations, including the best insoles for supination.
- For flats or heels, you can try pads, like ball-of-foot types. These are small cushioning devices that you attach to your feet, which will then provide friction and support.
- Heels strips are another alternative to insoles, sometimes called heel grips. These are adhesive pads that help tight shoes feel more comfortable. But, you can also use them to add bulk in a needed spot.
- If none of the above work, consult a shoe repair professional. Such a person will evaluate your shoes and assess what can be done. If you have expensive or heirloom shoes, we highly recommend that you go directly to a professional for help.
Here’s a useful video on how to adjust shoes that are too big.
Is It Bad to Wear Loose Shoes?
Wearing loose shoes isn’t ideal, although it might be more comfortable than tight ones. However, you’re still at risk of developing blisters and the chance of tripping will be high.
Is Half a Shoe Size a Big Difference?
Half sizes were introduced around 1880 to accommodate several feet. Although it may seem minimal, half a shoe size does make a difference. On average, there are approximately 4.23 millimeters difference between each consecutive half-size.
Still, one problem that many of us face is that one foot is half a size bigger or smaller than the other. If so, always go with the largest foot to ensure the best fit.
The effects of wearing shoes that are too big are almost the same as with small shoes. When wearing ill-fitting shoes, your feet won’t receive the needed support and will instead work to support the shoes. This increases your risks of painful blisters and even deformities such as bunions and hammertoes.
Make sure that your shoes fit by measuring your feet before buying a new pair. Fortunately, there are ways to correct footwear that is too big by using insoles and padding or consult a professional.
We hope that you found our guide useful. Please let us know in the comments below what you think and feel free to share it with others.
Wearing big shoes can alter your natural stride. Instead, you may end up walking in an unnatural, and even dysfunctional way as your heel keeps slipping out. You may also contract your toes with every step to correct this, which could lead to foot problems, such as bunions and hammertoes.
Other painful effects of wearing shoes that are too big include: Corns and calluses: caused by excessive pressure on the toes. Metatarsalgia: caused by too much pressure on the balls of your feet. Disrupted natural stride: resulting in Achilles tendonitis, arch pain, and pain in the calf muscles.
6 Painful Problems Caused by Ill-Fitting Shoes
- Ingrown nails. ...
- Blisters. ...
- Heel pain. ...
- Bunions. ...
- Athlete's foot. ...
Wearing the wrong shoe can exacerbate existing problems such as pain or arthritis in your hips, knees, ankles or feet. Even a short duration in the wrong shoes can cause stress and pain to your bones and joints, and the soft tissues that support them.
Here are five foot conditions that can develop if you wear shoes that aren't right for your feet.
- Plantar fasciitis. ...
- Bunions. ...
- Corns. ...
- Hammertoe. ...
- Ingrown toenails.
As we all know, if you wear a shoe that is too tight it will hurt your feet and lead to foot ailments, such as blisters, bunions and calluses. But wearing a shoe that is too big will cause us to walk in an unnatural and dysfunctional way. This can lead to serious foot problems.
Full insoles are a fantastic solution if your shoe is too big across the length of your foot, and they come in a variety of materials and styles to suit your needs: Foam insoles – if you're after general stability and snug-fitting shoes, foam insoles are ideal for making things more comfortable.
- rest and raise your foot when you can.
- put an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a towel on your toe for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
- wear wide comfortable shoes with a low heel and soft sole.
- take paracetamol.
Pinching of the nerves from tight shoes or repetitive stress can cause irritation and damage to the nerves that run towards the toes. In some cases the nerves can be damaged by trauma.
Protect Against Foot and Ankle Issues
Wearing the wrong footwear can increase your risk of developing foot and ankle conditions and injuries, which include corns, bunions, hammertoes, and plantar fasciitis.
“Muscles in the lower and upper legs may have to work harder when shoes do not fit properly, and this causes fatigue and pain.”
Possibly. If your boots are too heavy, they can lead to pain in your ankles, knees, and hips. The weight of some boots mimics the effect of ankle weights.
- Types of Foot Pain.
- Plantar Fasciitis.
- Posterior Tibial Tendonitis.
- Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Turf Toe.
The most common causes of toe pain include ingrown toenails, bunions, cuts or scrapes, other injuries, blisters, and corns and calluses. Arthritis (including rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and other types of arthritis) and infections are additional causes of toe pain.
- Replace your Insoles. ...
- Choose Thicker Socks and Stuff Your Toe Area. ...
- Shrink Your Shoes Into Water. ...
- Stitch the Elastic Band Right Inside Your Shoe. ...
- Bring your Shoes to one Professional Cobbler. ...
- Ball of Foot Cushions (Half Insoles) ...
- Heel Liners for Shoes. ...
- Full-Size Insoles.
Your shoes are flat
Arch support is paramount when it comes to supporting not just your foot and ankle, but your legs, knees, and hips. If your shoes have a lower arch (or no arch at all), your ankle turns inward, throwing off the distribution of weight and causing ankle pain.
This is why you should never wear shoes that are too big. Wearing a shoe size that's smaller than your natural foot is bound to make your feet feel cramped and uncomfortable. (Cue the crunched up toes, blisters, and Band-Aids.)
While insoles don't physically make a shoe smaller, they fill out the empty space between your feet the inside of the shoe. Insoles are also a way to keep shoes fresh as they can be taken out and cleaned. Plus, they can be used together with toe inserts when shoes are too big, providing additional support.
Generally speaking, there should be about one finger's width of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. Another way to check this is to slip a finger between the heel of your foot and the heel of your shoe. There should be just enough space for your finger to fit nice and snugly.
Christine Luff from verywell.com recommends going up half a shoe size because one's feet swell when they run and it is important to have plenty of room in the toebox. If one's toes are crammed in the front of the running shoe, you could develop blisters or black toenails.
It does make a difference. One problem is that sometimes one foot is a half size larger than the other. Size to your larger foot. If you run in a shoe that's too small, as your foot slides forwards on downhills you can jam your toes causing black toe nails.
Check the space at the end of the shoe.
Stand up and make sure there is 3/8" or 1/2" (about the width of your finger) between your longest toe (usually the second toe) and the end of the shoe. Always stand and walk around in the shoes to see if they are comfortable, fit well, and don't chafe or rub anywhere.