Should Running Shoes Be A Size Bigger? Or, is Going Half Size Up Enough?


Today, I’m going to be answering a question most runners ask “should running shoes be a size bigger?”

Proper fit is the most important determinant of what shoes you should be wearing on your feet and there’s a couple of things we can think about that.

If you find it a bit difficult to understand the different running and gear terms, make sure you check this article out.


How Should Running Shoes Fit?

A running shoe should fit snug in the heel and midfoot yet have wiggle room for your toes. Your foot expands in length and width when it makes contact with the ground.

To accommodate this, a proper fitting running shoe should be about a half size larger than your street or dress shoe.

This same rule applies to measurements taken with a branding device. But remember, every brand can fit slightly different.


But, should running shoes be a size bigger? That really depends on whether or not your feet swell abnormally. If your feet swell to the point where your half-size-bigger-shoes get really tight, then you should go up a full size. Other than that, going a half size up is going to be perfect for your feet.


Do Running Shoes Stretch?

A lot of models from a lot of brands now feature uppers with stretchable materials. Running shoes that stretch do provide more room for bigger feet or feet that tend to swell a lot.


Proper Fit Best Practices

What I like to do is to scoot my foot forward until my toes just touch the end of the shoe and then I just slide my thumb right into the back of the shoe again to make sure to have that amount of space.



When you’re at the running shoe store or once you order a pair of shoes and they’ve arrived at your house during lockdown, for example, I recommend trying them on with the socks you normally wear while running whether they’re a little bit thicker or whether they’re a little thinner low-profile ones.

Custom Inserts

If you use orthotics or custom footbeds, place them in your shoe after removing the sock liner.


It’s worth noting that feet tend to swell throughout the day, so trying them on in the afternoon will give you a more accurate idea of how the shoe will fit mid-run.

Thumbnail’s Width

Once your shoes are comfortably laced, stand up and test the shoes’ length. There should be about a thumbnail’s width between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe.



The heel should fit snugly without slipping as you walk and your toe should have some extra room on either side to allow your feet to spread out.

Lacing Techniques

Pay attention to your laces. If they’re too close together, your shoes may be too wide or have too much volume. If your laces are spread farther apart, the shoes may be too narrow or lack enough volume. With a proper shoe fit, the laces are not too far apart and not too close together.

Many runners don’t realize how much they can customize the fit of their shoes just by changing the way they lace them.

Here are a few different ways to lace up your running shoes to deal with various fit problems.

  • Runner’s loop if your heel is slipping in and out of your shoe.
  • Window or parallel lacing if your shoe feels too tight on the top of the foot.
  • Hot spot lacing if you have pain on the top of your foot. You can skip a set of eyelets to relieve pressure on the hot spot.
  • Reef knot for a better hold especially of your laces keep coming untied when you’re running.
  • Bruised toe lacing if your big toenail turned black. You can take some pressure off the toe with this lacing trick.


You do want to make sure to resize every time you get a new pair of shoes. Feet change size over time so you just want to start with accurate measurement from the get-go.

For a lot of people, one foot is a little bit bigger or a little bit smaller than the other one. So, always size both shoes to the size of the larger foot.


Downside of Shoes That Don’t Fit Right

If you’re getting any tingling or numbness in your toes, sometimes that means you’ve tied your shoe a little bit tight so you can loosen them up. It could also mean that maybe you don’t have enough volume in your shoe or the shoe is too narrow.

If you’re getting bruising on your toes, that usually means that you don’t have that thumb’s worth of space between your toes and the end of your shoe.

If they are on your toes, usually that means you don’t have quite enough room in the toe box,

If they are on the ball of your foot, maybe your shoe is a little wide.

If you’re getting blisters on your heel, sometimes that can mean that your heel is actually just sliding around a little bit in the back of your shoe and the rubbing is causing you some problems.

Finally, walk for several minutes inside your house or run on a treadmill in your new shoes and make sure they don’t rub or create any hot spots. They should feel comfortable everywhere.

I hope I’ve answered your question “should running shoes fit a size bigger?” If you have any questions, please use the comments section below.

Happy running everybody 🙂

About Eric Barber

Eric Barber is a happy father of two little angels, a husband, and a runner. He eats, sleeps, and dreams anything foot related: running shoes, walking shoes, sneakers, you name it. It all started when Eric was a shoe store specialist watching and fitting people's feet day in and day out.

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