How To Measure Your Feet

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Knowing your shoe size

It might seem obvious that it is important to know your shoe size but the truth is, many people wear shoes that don’t fit well or only know their correct size for one or two brands. It’s true, the non-standard sizing many brands use does not make ordering shoes or insoles online any easier. And when you wear the wrong shoe size, you put yourself at risk for conditions ranging from calluses to bunions and hammer toes. The only real way to know your shoe size is to measure your feet and to look up the actual units of measurement on a size chart as opposed to using the somewhat arbitrary sizes that brands assign to their shoes or insoles.

Consequences of the wrong size 

As was mentioned above, wearing the wrong size shoe is not just something you should fix by wearing an extra pair of socks or, worse yet, dealing with the pain of squeezed feet all day. When you wear the wrong size, your big toe can be encouraged to point inward. Over time this can cause a bunion to form. It can also affect your other toes, causing them to point downward with a condition called hammer toe. The rubbing and friction of shoes that don’t fit well can result in calluses on the heels and toes of your feet. And these conditions are nothing you want to just ignore or live with since, if left untreated, you might need surgery to correct them. 

Before you measure

Strangely enough your feet can change size throughout the day. When you really think about it, this makes sense because after a full day of walking around, they are larger from the pressure of carrying your body all day. Also make sure you are measuring your feet how they will be when you are wearing shoes. Put on the socks you would normally wear with the type of shoe you are shopping for. Sometimes people forget that they are going to wear tights instead of their thick socks they normally wear with sneakers and end up buying dress shoes that slip around on their feet just based on their usual sneaker size. Also remember that no one is perfectly symmetrical. Usually one foot is slightly bigger than the other so make sure to measure both feet. Since measuring your own feet is a hard thing to do, you may want to ask a friend to help out.

foot measuring diagram

Get the measurements

1. Get a blank piece of paper for each foot and stand on them as you would normally stand. In other words, don’t change your posture because that can change the way your foot touches the ground.

2. Ask your friend to trace the outline of each foot. It is important that they go all the way around and try to be as precise as possible. An easy mistake is to angle the pen or pencil under the edge of the foot or to press in on the foot as you go around, making it appear smaller. You really want the full width of the foot.

3. Once your feet have been traced, step off the papers and measure the length of your foot from the highest point on the toes to the lowest point on the heels. Make sure to write down this measurement in inches as well as millimeters as shoe manufacturers outside of the United States will likely use millimeters on their size charts.

4. Measure the width of your foot outline at the widest points, often located on the forefoot.

5. Using the measurements in millimeters, you can find your shoe or insole size using the Protalus sizing chart or check out this width chart at SizeCharter to identify your shoe width.

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