How Should Running Shoes Fit?

The staff at Lucky Shoes uses a Brannock device to measure your feet and ensure your running shoes are sized appropriately.

When it comes to running shoes, the amount of choices in the marketplace can be overwhelming. There are hundreds of styles, tons of terminology, and to top it off, no two brands fit the same. In order to get the best result, pick a store where they measure feet and put the shoes on for you. Bring the socks you want to wear, orthotics if you have them, and most of all bring an open mind. A good shoe fitter will lead you to the best choice if you are open and willing. However, there are a few things that are universal in getting a good running shoe fit no matter the brand or style. 

Everything to know about running shoes sizing


A good fit will have anywhere from a quarter of an inch to three quarters of an inch between the longest toe and the end of the shoe. The longest toe can be the big toe or the second toe. All of your toes should be able to move and wiggle freely in a properly fit shoe. A shoe that is too long will bend funny at the end. A shoe that is too short will feel confining and snug. 


The foot should not feel squeezed when trying the shoes on.  Remember, feet naturally swell during the day, and they swell during a run as well.  A shoe that is too wide will crease excessively across the toes, and one that is too narrow will not allow your foot to move freely, especially when you bend your toes. 

Flex Point

Very important! A shoe naturally wants to bend at its widest point, as does the foot. The ball of the foot should line up with the bend point of the shoe from the great toe all the way to the fifth toe. Your shoe fitter might refer to this as the arch length measurement, and this measurement is more important than the toe measurement to get a great fit. 

Heel Fit

The heel of a running shoe should fit “medium snug”. You should be able to pull off a laced shoe with moderate effort. A heel fit that is too tight will cause blisters, and one that is too loose will make you feel like you are going to lose the shoe. 


The laces of a running shoe can be a great indicator of a poor fit. If the laces are spread apart in a V shape, we want to go longer or wider. If they are closer at the top than the bottom, we want to go shorter or narrower. Parallel is what we are shooting for. 


[Author John Luck is the President of Lucky Shoes [founded 1919], the New Balance stores of Ohio, Stride Rite of Ohio, Vionic stores of Ohio, and Lucky Shoes Running Company. He has been fitting shoes since 1982, and is an avid runner since retiring from soccer in 2004. He has held certificates in Pedorthics, and Orthotic Shoe Technology, and loves all shoes]

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