Three Signs your shoes are too small
Author: By Margot Manning Director of intraining Running C
Did you know your feet should not hurt when you run? If they do, then you need to find out why that happens and make some changes. The most common reasons for uncomfortable feet when running is because your shoes are one or more of these:
- too short
- too shallow
- not the right shape.
Here are the three sure signs your shoes are not the right fit:
1. Numb toes
After running for 8 to 10km, your toes start to go numb or tingly. It’s usually the third and fourth toes that are affected the most and you will get relief when you take off your shoes. Annoyingly, this will only happen when you are running.
This numbness is a sign of irritation and pressure on the nerves that run between the toes. The reason it happens later in your runs is because your foot expands with increased blood flow and muscle use after a while. If your shoes don’t have enough space around, then (aka too small) then they become squished.
Feet that are flexible can also develop this numbness. When you stand on one foot the front of it flattens. Runners with flexible feet will get even more flattening. This makes your foot wider than what you would expect. So, when you are buying shoes, make sure you check that the front of your foot does not have bumps showing or feel too much pressure from the sides… check the width.
High arched feet can also be a problem contributing to numb toes. If you have a high arched foot you need to ensure the middle of the foot is deep enough to accommodate its height and even lace the shoes differently.
Tip: Even if you have a relatively normal or slightly thin feet, check that it’s not one that flattens to be wider when you stand. A common sign can be small bumps on your fifth toe.
What to Change: If this is you, you need to go to a wider or deeper shoe. This can be tricky if the rest of your foot is narrower, but there are a variety of shapes in shoes and ways to customise your shoes to fit and run well.
2. Blisters and black toenails
Black toenails should not be considered ‘normal’ for a runner. They occur more frequently with long runs and races but can be avoided. The reason they occur is from repetitive rubbing or ‘bumping’ onto the inside of the shoe. Think about how many steps you take running, and how many times your toes will be hitting the end or top of the shoe. A lot!!
There are different reasons black toenails form.
- a shoe is too short (the most common)
- a shoe is too shallow at the end because the upper is tapered towards the toe
- you have the wrong shaped shoe for your feet and toes are rubbing
- your toes move more than they should when inside the shoe because of the way you run – your biomechanics.
- with a longer or deeper pair of shoes.
Tip: Buy a different shoe – size, or shape. Toes that continually go black from trauma (being beaten constantly in their shoes), eventually can thicken. This is a permanent damage and will make it even more difficult as an older person to fit into shoes.
Change: The biggest change is the size and shape of the shoe. If you have done this and still have problems, then you need to see a running podiatrist to review your foot biomechanics.
3. Hot feet or a lump under the foot
The feeling of a lump, your sock bunching up or a stone under the ball of the feet is another sign of tight shoes. This has the same pattern as your numb toes, starting after a while with the foot starting to feel warm or hot. This is not a fun experience at all and can completely ruin the enjoyment of your runs due to the pain. To compensate for this pain, you may also start to alter how your foot is landing on the ground leading to a secondary tendon injury – a much harder one to resolve.
Tip: Check the fit of the shoe just as you did for the numb toes. Sometimes this injury starts as numb toes and turns into the stone-like pain.
Check also the age of your shoes. This is a common sign when the cushioning in your shoes has worn out. Remember that the midsole (cushioning) can wear out with no visible signs.
Changes: Larger shoes if they are newer. New shoes if you have done a lot of exercise of they are old.
Your feet should be comfortable, especially when you run the longer distances. It is not normal to get these pains and they are often pretty easy to get rid of with the right size and fitted shoe.
Make sure you take the time to think about the fit and feel of your feet when you are buying new shoes. Stand in them, run in them and check you don’t have any obvious signs while in the shop suggesting they are too small.
Even a little too small can escalate to larger discomfort on your runs.
If you have answered yes to any of the above signs, come and talk with our running team at intraining Running Centre. They can help you with some tips to modify your shoes or help you find the right pair. There are so many different shape designs to running shoes that usually we can help you find a pair to suit.
You’ve tried all those changes and still need help?
If it is an ongoing pain, then you should book in to see one of our running podiatrists, because there are other in-shoe management strategies and we can determine if there is another underlying cause, such as neuroma’s, bursitis, nerve impingements, or joint capsule injuries.
Don’t live with this pain. Take the steps to make your running more enjoyable again.
Phone us on 07 3367 3088 or come in and see our running team. They know what signs to look for and can help you find the right shoe.