How to make sure your shoes are not crushing your feet

When I was training for my first Annapolis 10 miler a few years ago, I was running in Nike Frees. They were great, especially the Flyknits. I still wear them to  walk the dog (a.k.a the graveyard for my running shoes). I also used them to slowly, over a 4 month period, transition from a neutral shoe to the Vibram five fingers.  At the time of the race, I was doing 3-4 miles in the Vibrams, but anything over 6 miles I would wear the Frees. Two days after the race, my left big toe was so painful right at the MTP joint, I could barely walk. What was more interesting was that it didn’t hurt to walk barefoot and it didn’t hurt to run in my Vibrams.  Conclusion: The Nikes were too narrow for my feet. As my wife says, I got monkey feet. I do have enough dexterity to peel a banana with these toes.

After hosting the Healthy Running course at Anne Arundel Medical Center and having my feet measured appropriately by the good folks at Fleet Feet, I came to the conclusion I need a shoe with a wide toe box.

An easy way to assess if your shoe is too narrow for you is to take out the insole and step on it. Does your big toe or any part of your foot hang over the edge of the insole as you balance your full weight into it? Does your insole accommodate the natural splaying out of your toes? I ended up running the Army 10 miler 5 weeks later in some Altra’s with no toe problems (however I did get an IT Band issue, but more on that later).

Update with pictures on how to assess shoe width (excuse my winter dry feet):



10 Running shoes with a wide toe box:

  1. Altra’s *
  2. Asics 33-FA
  3. Brook’s Ghost*
  4. Hoka one
  5. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080
  6. Topo Athletics*
  7. Vibrams *
  8. Mizuno Wave Rider
  9.  Brooks Addiction (walking shoe)
  10. Xero Prio
  • Shoes I own

Published by Dr. Dat Q. Cao

Runner, Physical therapist, Husband, Dad. Loves paddle boarding, traveling, dogs, sushi, BBQ

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