Walking a Mile in Your Shoes: How to Properly Measure Your Feet (Infographic)

Average shoe size has changed drastically over the years. Dive into this infographic to learn how to measure your feet properly to keep your feet healthy!

Walking on a cloud measuring feet

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How Feet Have Changed

Shoe sizes have changed drastically over the years.
For example, in the United States, women’s average shoe sizes have gone up in the last century.

  • Early 1900s – 3.5 to 4
  • 1940s – 5.5
  • 1960s – 6.5
  • 1970s – 7.5
  • Today – 8.5 to 9

The average shoe size for Canadian women is 6.5.

The average shoe size for Canadian men is 10.

Factors contributing to the population’s changing shoe sizes:

  • Easier access to better nutrition
  • Taller children
  • Rising obesity rates

How Your Feet Change

Societal changes aside, your feet grow as you age, even beyond puberty.

Some people over the age of 40 can expect to gain half a shoe size every decade.

Tendons, ligaments, muscles, and tissue naturally lose elasticity and buoyancy as you age, but your feet are unique as they take your body’s entire weight.

  • Gravity causes your feet to swell.
  • The front of your foot widens.
  • Your arch flattens, causing your foot to grow longer.

Unfortunately, some people are unaware of the changes in their feet, but shoving your feet in cramped shoes can only lead to problems, including:

  • Bunions
  • Hammertoes
  • Corns
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Blisters
  • General pain and discomfort

Fitting shoes are healthy shoes.

Properly Measuring Your Feet

What you’ll need:

  • Tape
  • A piece of paper
  • A pencil or marker
  • A ruler or tape measure
  1. Tape the paper to the floor. You’ll be tracing your foot to measure, so make sure the paper is on a hard, flat surface (i.e., not carpet).
  2. Sit down with your foot planted firmly on the piece of paper on the floor. Bend your leg slightly forward so that your shin is just in front of your ankle. Don’t wear your shoes, but do wear socks.
  3. Trace the outline of your foot, holding your pen or pencil upright, not at an angle. Keep the writing utensil snug against your foot. If you’re having trouble with this step, get help from a friend.
  4. Draw straight lines touching the outermost points at the sides, bottom, and top of your foot tracing. These lines mark the width and length of your foot.
  5. Measure the distance from the top line to the bottom line. Use the closest 16th mark. Write this number down. It measures your foot’s length and is the primary factor in determining your shoe size.
  6. Measure the distance between the two lines at the sides of your feet. This determines the width of your feet.
  7. Subtract about □(3/16) ths of an inch from the length and width to accommodate the small space between the outline and your actual foot.
  8. Repeat with your other foot.
  9. Use the sizing charts below to determine your proper foot size. Note: use the measurements from the larger foot.

What’s Up With Width

Shoe widths are available in sizes A, B, C, D, and E with A being the narrowest and E being the widest.

  • Narrow
    • Women: A
    • Men: C
    • Accommodate thin feet or feet with narrow heels and high arches
    • For narrow widths, the more letters, the slimmer the shoe. For example, a AAA is narrower than a AA.
  • Average/medium
    • Women: B
    • Men: D
    • Make up most of a manufacturer’s inventory
    • If the shoe does not indicate a width, it is most likely average/medium.
  • Wide
    • Women: C/D
    • Men: E
    • Ideal for wide feet, flat arches, and wearers with bunions or hammertoes
    • For wide widths, the more letters, the wider the shoe. For example, a EEE is wider than a EE.
  • Extra wide
      • Women: E
      • Men: EE
      • Accommodate those with wide feet or feet that are swollen from certain conditions, including edema or diabetes
      • Tend to have more depth to accommodate insoles


If a shoe feels tight or loose along the sides of your feet, ask for a shoe of different width within the same size.

Don’t go down a shoe size to accommodate narrow feet, or go up a shoe size to accommodate wide feet.

For sneakers and most athletic shoes, if the brand doesn’t have different widths, remember that you don’t have to wear a shoe of your gender.

  • Men: Try women’s shoes if you have narrow feet.
  • Women: Try men’s shoes if you have wider or larger feet.

• http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/10/16/size-8-is-the-new-7-why-our-feet-are-getting-bigger/
• http://www.theaveragebody.com/average_foot.php
• http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/why-our-feet-are-getting-bigger-9481529.html
• http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/why-our-feet-are-getting-bigger-9481529.html
• http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jan/01/health/la-he-agingfoot1jan01
• http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=164865
• http://health.cvs.com/GetContent.aspx?token=f75979d3-9c7c-4b16-af56-3e122a3f19e3&chunkiid=14645
• http://www.wikihow.com/Find-Your-Shoe-Size
• http://www.zappos.com/c/shoe-size-conversion
• http://shoes.about.com/od/fitcomfort/a/widenarrowwidth.htm
• http://www.healthyfeetblog.com/shoe-widths-101

Brought to you by Walking on a Cloud | www.walkingonacloud.ca

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