Why Your Shoe Size Varies from Brand to Brand

running shoe fit

Have you ever noticed that you’re one size in one running shoe brand and a totally different size in another? It’s totally a thing. And here’s why:

No, your feet aren’t expanding and contracting on the regular – it’s the shoes you’re wearing. And yes, it makes shoe shopping far more challenging, especially when you’re shopping for athletic shoes. As a runner, or gym rat, or whatever form of athleticism you favor, you know that the way your shoe fits makes a BIG difference. It can make or break your performance. So why isn’t a size 7 a size 7 across the board?

Why Shoe Sizes Aren’t Standardized Across the Board

person in running shoes

Brands develop their own sizing for their shoes. Weird, right? It’s akin to when you shop at your favorite store for let’s say, pants, and find that when you go elsewhere, you’re a totally different size. The difference in sizing starts at the beginning of the manufacturing process in factories with a tool called a shoe last. Shoe lasts are molded models of feet, sans toes. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and they’re a big part of what makes each shoe manufacturer unique. Much like apparel companies, it would put shoe brands at a disadvantage to adhere to universal sizing.

Shoes Sizes May Not Even Be Standardized Within the Brand

You might also find that the shoe you bought from your favorite running shoe brand doesn’t fit the same way another model you bought from that same brand does. This is totally a thing, too. This typically depends on the factory at which each model was manufactured.

How to Find Running Shoes That Fit Properly

Running shoe on leg

For the most part, you’ll probably experience discrepancies from brand to brand rather than within a brand that you tend to shop. But it’s always helpful to try shoes on before buying them. Here are a few tips to help you determine if your shoes fit properly:

  1. Size Up: Believe it or not, you do, indeed, want to size about half a size up. Your feet expand when running. Be nice to them. You should have approximately a thumb’s width between the end of your longest toe and the front of the shoe.
  2. Watch Your Heel: Heel slippage is, without a doubt, terribly annoying! Make sure your heel isn’t falling out of your shoe.
  3. Make Sure the Shoe is Right For Your Specific Foot: It helps to understand your arch type because the height and flexibility of your arch determines the amount of support you need. Learn more about your arch here.
  4. Know What Cushion Level Works for You: Different shoes have different cushion levels. Some people thrive with ample cushioning underfoot while others prefer a more minimalist feel.

That’s a lot to take in, isn’t it? If you’re not sure what type of shoe works best for your specific activities of choice, you can visit your local Road Runner Sports store and get a free assessment (which includes our new 3D foot scan) and shoe fitting.

Related Articles: 

How to Prevent Annoying Heel Slippage in Running Shoes

Dial in the Perfect Fit Using These Running Shoe Hacks

Not Too Tight, Not Too Loose: How Running Shoes Should Fit

How to Choose Running Shoes That Actually Fit


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