How To Tell If Shoes Are Too Small

Do you know how to tell if shoes are too small?

But first:

What really happens when you wear shoes that are extra small? Many things; and none of them good!

You will experience some serious problems. For instance, if you wear your shoes too small, you will experience deformed toes, blisters, bunions, flat feet, numbness, inflammation, and pain in your heels and toes.

In fact, these are just some of the problems associated with wearing tight shoes. There are many more!  

While it appears so casual, you know like a matter or seeing it, liking it and ordering it, buying shoes either locally or online can be a challenge.

You should remember that not all shoes are tailored to fit your feet. For instance, some people have narrow feet, some wide and others extra wide. Therefore, knowing your length and width size is paramount.

Shoes Too Narrow? Try Comfort Over Fashion

Just because Charlize Theron looks so fine in those pumps, it does not mean they would be equally good for you.

Think of your foot comfort over fashion anytime!

There thousands of shoes to choose from, and some are built unique to your feet. today, manufacturers have caught up with the needs of all people. For example, even if you have extra wide feet, there are extra wide feet for you.

You may be interested in a particular type of shoe but keep in mind that you need comfort more than fashion. If it does not fit, look for another one.

So how do you tell if your shoes are too small?

There are a few different ways to tell proper shoe fit. These are obvious things, but let us look at them all the same:

If you buy a shoe and struggle to put it on, that is the first and most obvious sign of a shoe that is too small. This is one of the ways for how to tell if running shoes are too small.

If you buy your shoes from a walk-in store, test them out! However, today, most people buy their fashion items online. The same applies to work boots and casual shoes.

Check the sizing on the box or on the shoes

When the shoes are delivered, the first thing to do to is to check whether they are in the size that you ordered. Check the width size especially. To help you out, read our article on shoes width.

Usually, width of shoes is indicated by letters following the numbers. The numbers indicate the length size of the shoes. The number indicates the width.

Of course, the system will depend on where the shoes were made. For instance, in the US, width is indicated by letters such as M for medium, D for narrow, E for extra wide and so on.

In addition, the width sizing/lettering will also depend on whether they are womens or mens shoes. On the same note, this makes a lot of sense too since men’s medium width could be women’s extra wide.

Wear The Shoes

Something important to note…

Check whether the shoes that you ordered online have a return policy. That way, when you open the box to try them on, if they run too narrow, you can return them for a refund or a replacement.

The best way to tell if a shoe is too small or big is by wearing the pair on both feet.

Do you know that 20-30% of the adult population suffers from foot pain related to footwear?

Therefore, if your toes are overlapping, crammed together, or bent at the joints, then your shoe is too small and tight.

If you find dress shoes too big, you can also return them. However, it is best to have them a bit wide than too narrow.

Shoes Too Tight: What To Do

Knowing how to tell if shoes are too small is not enough. You need to know what you can do to make them fit.

Just what do you do with them? Do you return for a refund or do you wear them in the hope that they will expand?

Waiting for them to expand can be an uphill task. Besides, there is no guarantee that they will expand.

If the shoes too narrow is just ordinary, here are some ways that you can use to expand them:

Note: This is more like breaking in a pair of shoes.

1. Using a Blow Dryer

Yes, this can work; all you have to do is wear some socks, wear the shoes, blowdry the areas that feel tight. Usually, this will be around the toes, the heels. Sometimes, you may feel the shoes tight on top of foot. You can also hit such areas with heat.

However, remember to use medium heat for 20-30 seconds to prevent the shoe or even your feet from burning up.

In addition, you can repeat this process for some days until your fit fits in the shoe. Remember to apply moisturizer, leather conditioner, or suede conditioner for suede after you have used a blow dryer.

2. A cobbler can help

Should boots fit tight or loose? Boots should leave some space for socks. However, shoes should be about a half size bigger.

You see, in the afternoon, your feet seem to expand a little, you know, blood flowing towards gravity and all.

Since a cobbler understands the process better, he may be offering stretching services. He will also have the right equipment such as shoe, boot stretchers, shoe tree and so on which you may end up buying if you choose to do it yourself. Besides, a cobbler can also alter your shoe to give it a good fit.

3. Freeze Them Shoes

When water turns into ice, it expands. This is why we should employ this simple physics here.

A zip-close bag with one -third way of water will do. Place the bag and mold it inside your shoes in the tight area. After that, freeze your shoes for the night.

In the morning, let it thaw and remove the ice. You can repeat this simple process until you achieve the desired results.

How Do You Find the Right Shoes?

In spite of the fact that there are many things you can do to enlarge your shoes, the best thing is to buy the right shoe the very first time.

Good fitting shoes are going to offer your feet protection and comfort. It would help if you considered the following when buying shoes:

The best time to buy shoes

How should shoes fit? Comfortably!

Buy shoes when your feet are the largest. The shoes ought to fit you in the morning and afternoons when your feet tend to swell. In addition, they should be comfortable throughout the day.

Image of how to make small shoes fit

Have your feet measured, and don’t assume that you have the right size.

Try shoes on both feet while standing and walk around to get a good feel of the shoe.

Remember safety, the shoe’s sole should protect you from falls and be flexible enough to allow your feet to bend as you walk. 

Spare some room in the toes

Leave some space between your toe (the longest toe and the second toe) and the very end of the shoe about 3/8” width of your finger.

You can also do a simple finger test by inserting your finger between your heel and shoe (this should tell you whether to go up or down a size.)

Allow your toes to have some wiggle room. The toe box should allow enough space for your feet.

Buy ergonomic shoes

With time, shoes should conform to the shape of your feet. Therefore, check for things such as EVA sole, rubber sole and so on.

The leather, fabric or whatever material has been used for the upper should also be flexible enough to allow your feet to bend.

In addition, check for depth and width of the shoes to make sure the toes and ball of your foot fit comfortably. Remember, the ball of foot area is the widest part of your foot.

Don’t expect your shoes to stretch with time. Chances are that even if they do, they will not create enough room. Just ensure you buy them right the first time.

Try your shoes on with socks if you intend to be wearing the shoe with socks. Listen to your feet. If they pinch only a little when new, that is fine. They will be fine with time.

Sizes vary between brands, so trust your comfort rather than size.


That is it for how to tell if shoes are too small! Now, the next thing is to find out how you can make them accommodative enough for your feet.

When new, they will be tight shoes. However, if they feel extra tight, chances are they will not improve even with time.

Now that you know the tight shoes symptoms to watch out for, get the right fit, with comfort foremost on your mind.