“Are My Barefoot Shoes Too Big?” is one of the most common questions that we get asked. In many cases the answer is don’t worry they are probably just fine. So why is this?
In order to select the ideal size in barefoot shoes there are two things we aim to get right:
- Conventional shoes mean that most people have a forefoot that has been squeezed so that it is narrower than it’s natural form. We want barefoot shoes with enough room in the forefoot to allow the forefoot to return to it’s natural “splayed” shape. People who have been wearing well fitted barefoot shoes for some time have a wider forefoot with bigger gaps between their toes.This is healthy and natural. If you look at the feet of tribal people who have never worn shoes and this is how they look. So you need nice wide shoes with plenty of room for your foot to expand. To the uninitiated, shoes like this will seem too big but that is how they should be
- Your conventional shoes often have quite a significant raised instep. Barefoot shoes have less of a raise and ideally none at all. Once your instep is unsupported then each time you touch the ground your foot flattens and gets longer. This is a natural part of the way your foot absorbs the impact of touching the ground. Years of wearing shoes with supported arches means that many of us have lost the flexibility in our foot tendons and muscles for this to work. But ideally we want to get this function back again (like when we were kids). As your foot flattens it gets longer, so it needs space in-front of the toes to extent into. So the toes in well fitted barefoot shoe need more space in-front of the toes than you are used to in your conventional shoes.
The net of all this is that well fitted barefoot shoes often seem rather wide with lots of space infront of the toes. But actually they are just fine. In fact what you want avoid is snug shoes that seem just fine!