Why Width Matters? Finding The Right Running Shoe Fit!

Every running shoe you look at comes with a laundry list of features that are sure to add value to your daily training; carbon fibre plates, high rebound foams, low/high offset, etc. Yet, one of the most significant features that typically gets overlooked by running shoe blogs and message boards – personal fit! Your foot size, shape and width are extremely important factors in your efforts in finding a successful runner and running shoe relationship. It is important to note that there is no one objective truth regarding size and fit: everything is unique. Every manufacturer has many different lasts (molds) and styles within the brand and each offer different fits/functions. Your foot size from 10 years ago is unlikely to be your foot size today. Your size in Hoka may not be your size in New Balance. Your size in a New Balance 1080 might not be equivalent to your size in the New Balance 880. Look at this as an opportunity – with many shapes, sizes, and widths available, your pursuit of a perfect fit is more achievable than ever!

Why width matters to you?

Whether too wide or too narrow, there are many associated risks involved in running in a poor fitting shoe. Too narrow can present itself in multiple forms such as bruised toenails (which eventually fall off!) or blisters/calluses. At its worst it can limit the much needed splaying function and movement of the forefoot with potential to contribute to bunions or even more severe issues with forefoot joint/nerve function. Too wide can also lead to blisters/calluses due to the space allowing for sliding and shearing movement. This can also add to increased lower leg activity which can help contribute to many running related issues.

What widths are available?

Men’s standard width is D and women’s standard width is B – if not otherwise indicated in your shoe these are the general industry standard widths you have been running in.

2A - Women’s Narrow
B - Women’s Standard + Men’s Narrow
D - Men’s Standard + Women’s Wide
2E - Men’s Wide + Women’s Extra Wide
4E - Men’s Extra Wide

How do I find the right width for me?
Adding width to the conversation when searching for a new running shoe allows for you to address current or potential issues and your local run shop is equipped to guide you.

  • That “metal foot thingy” on the floor of your local running shop, aka a
    Brannock device, is your starting point. This device allows for length and width to be measured with reasonable accuracy. A quick step in can allow for a visual key that may indicate your needs for a non-standard width.
  • Printable measuring tools  – These can be used at home to provide a relatively accurate size/width guide. While less accurate than a Brannock device, it is a convenient way to get an idea of your personal needs.
  • Trial & success – when trying on new products it is likely worth the effort to test a wide or narrow product. By feeling the difference and with guidance from your local run shop employee, it can either establish that standard fit is perfect for you at this time or an alternative width can help contribute to a more enjoyable running experience. Don’t forget that feet swell naturally through the day so wait until that clock turns to PM before heading to the store.

How do I know if I am in the wrong width?

Running shoes should be comfortable out of the box. Nothing should feel tight, loose or create any rubbing or pressure. We need to avoid a shoe feeling like it "needs to be broken in" as much as possible. Shoes will give a little as your foot settles in but if a shoe feels too tight, it is not likely to stretch out that much.
When you try on a shoe, look at the edges of the shoe and see how they line up with your foot - do they look tight, is there pressure around the outside? This is a good indication that the shoe might be too narrow for you. Alternatively, if you have excess fabric on the upper and the fabric folds around your arch, or have to cinch the laces drastically, the shoe might be too wide for you. We find that customers who are in the wrong width will also be in the wrong length of shoe to make it accommodate for their foot. Runners who have a narrow foot are usually in to small of a shoe so that the shoe feels secure to them. People who have wide feet might have a larger length on so that the shoe doesn't feel tight across the arch.

Are all shoes made in multiple widths?
Loyalists can breathe a sigh of relief – the likelihood of an additional width in your favorite running shoe is high.

New Balance offers widths in all available styles and if not readily available, can be easily brought in to fit your needs. From the best in class workhorse shoe the 880 all the way to our little runners in the kid’s section – there is a perfect fit for your foot!
“I wear New Balance because I have wide feet.”
“I wear New Balance because I have narrow feet.”