Shoes are a fact of life. You wear them to work, to the gym, outside, and sometimes even in your home. As a result, many of us have come to accept that our shoes may cause us pain — but we're actually doing more harm than good by wearing ill-fitting footwear. If you struggle to find any shoes that don't make your feet feel like a cased sausage, you could have wide feet. Is that something you should be concerned about? Not necessarily, but there are a few things you should know about having wide feet.
What causes wide feet?
Whether or not someone has wide feet is usually left up to Mother Nature, just like height, hair color, and eye color. Being born with wide feet isn’t necessarily a bad thing — it just means you need to make sure you’re buying the best shoes for wide feet instead of cramming your toes into any old pair.
Flat arches are another genetic condition that can cause wide feet. When people with fallen arches stand, the curve of the foot collapses, which can make a foot appear wider. In cases where flat arches are caused by too much stress on the foot (for example, being on your feet all day) or untreated injuries (like an ankle sprain), simple treatments can fix this problem and help slim wide feet.
There are other factors apart from genetics that can cause wide feet. The first is wearing shoes that don’t fit. You know those heels that are just a teeny bit too small but way too cute to get rid of? Those bad boys could be making your feet look even wider, because your joints and bones are forced to shift out of place in order to fit. You may develop bunions, which are painful bony bumps at the base of your big toe. It’s ironic that forcing your feet into shoes that make your feet look slimmer may actually be causing your foot to grow wider.
Certain health issues like edema, which is just a medical term for swelling, may case wide feet to develop. Edema can be brought on by any number of factors, including something as minor as sitting too long, to serious health conditions like heart failure and kidney disease.
Do I have wide feet?
When’s the last time you measured your feet? It’s possible you have wide feet without even knowing it. Fortunately, there’s a simple test you can take to find out. All you need is a pen or pencil, a tape measure or large ruler, and a piece of paper. But before you start, there are a few things to keep in mind so you get the most accurate measurement: A) Your feet expand during the day, so measure them at night rather than in the morning. B) Don’t measure your foot on an uneven or elevated surface. C) If you wear socks with your shoes, put them on before measuring. Got it? Good. Here’s how to tell if you have wide feet in three easy steps.
- Place the paper on a flat, even surface and step on it.
- Trace an outline of your foot with the pen or pencil.
- Record your measurements and compare them against our shoe-sizing chart. Remember, width is the distance between the two widest points on your foot. Height is the distance between the longest toe and your heel.
How to Slim Wide Feet
In some cases — like if your wide feet are genetic — there isn’t much you can do to make feet look smaller. However, if your wide feet are caused by underlying health conditions, there are a few steps you can take to slim wide feet.
First thing’s first: Find your glass slipper! Remember the scene in Cinderella where the prince slips the lost shoe on her foot? Your own shoes should fit just like that — snugly but without pain. If you have flat arches, buy insoles ($10.97, Amazon) that give you the support you need. By wearing footwear that’s actually comfortable, you reduce your risk of foot swelling, inflammation, and bunions.
Treating swollen feet — aka foot edema — is a little trickier because you need to know what’s causing the swelling. Sitting too long is a common culprit, so a simple test would be to get up and walk around every 20 minutes or so. If the swelling goes down by the end of the day, try to take more stretch breaks during the day. Weight gain also frequently causes feet to get wider as they grow to support your body, so try shedding a few pounds and see if the problem of wide feet fixes itself. If after all that your feet are still wide and they’re negatively affecting your life, see a doctor.