How to Tell if Shoes Are Too Small

Shoe sizing confuses me just as much as the next guy. I know I am a size 7. But when I get to the store, there are times when I feel like a size 6 shoe fits me better. And in some situations, even a size 8 feels too tight. What gives!?

Well, after some research, I found that shoe size is not as simple as I first thought. There are different shapes of feet. Some have wide feet, whereas others may have a larger foot but a narrower shape. This also plays a role in what size of shoe is perfect for you.

The best way to tell if a particular shoe is too small is to try it out yourself. It’s that simple! Put it on, and walk around for a couple of minutes in the store, and if everything feels comfortable, then that is the right size for you. If it feels constricting, move up a size. On the other hand, if it feels loose, move down a size.

But whatever you do, do not compromise with the sizing, as it can lead to a host of other problems. In this article, I will discuss the issues that you may face by wearing a tight shoe, and guide you on how to find the right size of shoe for your feet.

Is It Better for Shoes to Be Tight or Loose?

Personally, I believe that a shoe should neither be too tight nor too loose. Since you will likely be wearing it the whole day, it needs to be comfortable and perfectly balanced. If the shoe is too tight, you will feel suffocated and might even get blistered.

Wearing a loose shoe is also not a good idea as it can slip off your feet. Still, if you have absolutely no choice, it might be better to get a loose shoe instead of a tight one. It is, as one would say, the lesser of the two evils. But if you end up with a shoe that is too tight or loose, it is a good idea to return it and get one that fits you perfectly.

Are New Shoes Supposed to Be Tight?

In general, the opposite of “loose” would be “tight”. But you can see how that creates a problem, right? You should be aiming for “snug” not “tight”.

Well, there is a difference between tight and snug. A new pair of leather shoes should be comfortably snug rather than tight. There should be around a thumb width of space between your big toe to the inside of the shoe.

When you are wearing a shoe for the first few times, it does feel a bit constricting. But it should never lead to any discomfort. Even a shoe that requires a break-in period, should never feel uncomfortable to wear. Over time though, once the shoe has had some time to stretch, it would feel more spacious.

How Do You Know If a Shoe Fits Properly?

When you are shopping for a new pair of shoes, you should make sure it fits perfectly. So, you do not have to worry about widening the shoe yourself or breaking it in. A perfectly fit shoe should neither be too tight to feel uncomfortable nor too loose that it might cause you to lose balance.

There are a couple of ways to make sure your shoes fit just right. A simple trick I apply when shopping is I try to buy my shoes during the afternoon. That way, my feet get enough time to warm up and stretch. So, the size that feels perfect at that moment, should be perfect throughout the day.

I have seen many who when buying shoes, try it out on one foot only. However, that is not the best practice. You should wear both left and right shoes and walk around the store to make sure it feels perfectly snug and comfortable. If you notice any rubbing or discomfort, this means it is too tight.

If you wear socks with your shoes, make sure you are wearing a pair of socks when trying out new footwear. Sometimes you might need a size bigger when you are wearing socks with your shoes. If you try it out bare feet, and later on use it with socks, it might feel tight and uncomfortable.

Are My Shoes Too Small or Do I Need to Break Them In?

Sometimes you might hear the phrase that the shoe needs “breaking in.” While it may be true in some cases, there is absolutely no reason to subject yourself to physical discomfort by wearing a shoe that is too small. Sure, there are ways to stretch your shoes and make them fit small calves, but there is always a limit to how much you can stretch them.

The best advice I can give you is to get a pair of shoes that fits perfectly right out of the box. If it is comfortable, there is no need to break it in. Some shoes, especially those that are made with genuine leather, do stretch a bit over time as you wear them.

However, faux leather shoes rarely get enough stretch to make an impact. So, getting it in small size and hoping that it would break in overtime is not really the best way to shop.

What Happens If Your Shoes Are Too Small?

Here are the main problems that you will face when you are wearing a pair of shoes that are too small for your feet.

1. Physical discomfort and deformity

A tight shoe causes extreme physical discomfort. Research shows that in addition to causing frequent foot aches, a tight shoe can also change the shape of your foot over time. Constantly wearing tight shoes can lead to toe deformity in extreme cases.

Since a tight shoe applies a lot of pressure constantly across your entire foot, you will feel the effects of it long after you take it off. So even after you take it off after a long day of work, you might be unable to sleep because of the pain in your feet from wearing the shoe all day long.

2. Frequent blisters

There are two major culprits behind the formation of blisters, excessive friction, and restricted access to air. And wearing a tight pair of shoes all day long can lead to frequent burning blisters on your feet. Although foot blisters can be treated quite easily, nobody likes getting them.

Since a tight shoe will limit air access to your feet, and also increases the friction inside the shoe, blisters are extremely easy to form. If left untreated, it can lead to even severe skin conditions. All of this can be avoided by simply wearing the right size of the shoe.

3. Ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails can hurt; a lot. It is when the edge of your toenail grows inside the skin instead of outside. Since a tight pair of shoes cause a lot of extra pressure on your toe, ingrown toenails can easily form. And if you still keep wearing it, the skin around the nails can become infected.

Although it is common for ingrown toenails to form on the big toe, other toes are also susceptible to it. And once it does, you have to deal with the constant pain. If the pain gets too severe, you might even need to visit your doctor to get it removed.

4. Stress and loss of temper

It is a proven scientific fact that if you are not comfortable physically, it takes a toll on your mental condition. So, it makes sense that if you are struggling the whole day with foot ache and discomfort, you will become quick to temper. Indirectly, your tight shoes will negatively impact your mental aptitude.

If you want to keep yourself calm and composed, make sure you wear the right size of shoes. Tight shoes will stress you out and make it harder for you to get through the day positively. Your productivity will take a drastic hit, and the worst part is, you will not even realize why.

Final Thoughts

Wearing the right size of shoe can make all the difference between a good day spent and a bad one. Speaking from personal experience, spending an entire day with a suffocating sensation in your feet does not feel good. The day feels longer and your shoes make it that much harder to get through it.

So, when you are buying a new pair of shoes, make sure that the fit is perfect. Take your time picking out the right size and don’t feel pressured into getting a tight shoe just because the salesman says it fits. Use your best judgment. Hopefully, you now have enough information to understand if the shoe is too small or loose. Remember, the right fit will feel snug. It will never restrict your movement or cause discomfort. Good luck!

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