Feet width changes after barefoot?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 22, 2011 at 12:41 AM

Do your feet (the physical feet, not walking mechanics) seem different after long-term barefoot walking/running?

Here's a study concluding that born-barefoot walkers have wider feet than born-shoe wearers:


There are some good snippets in that study:

  • "recently in the USA, Frey et al. (1993) reported that 88% of the healthy women surveyed were wearing shoes smaller than their feet, and that 80%of them had some sort of foot deformity."
  • "Hoffmann (1905), using a limited sample size, noticed that habitual, or native, barefoot walkers universally have wider toe regions, a trend he also observed in classical sculptures... Hoffmann (1905) also describes that only a few weeks of shoe-wearing by children already effects foot shape, especially toe placement."



on July 23, 2011
at 07:59 AM

Maybe barefooting naturally attracts wide footed people cause we are sick of cramming our feet into shoes that are too narrow for us. Mine were wide to begin with but are definitely wider after a year of wearing VFF's.



on July 22, 2011
at 02:09 PM

I just jumped on the barefoot bandwagon and I keep checking my toes to see if they've spread out, lol...



on July 22, 2011
at 12:55 AM

I don't know if it has anything to do with genetics, but I spent most of my childhood years barefoot.. and whenever I can as an adult, don't wear shoes and I have wide feet. I'm also 5'10" and fairly big boned.

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7 Answers



on July 22, 2011
at 12:58 AM

My feet have certainly gotten wider. I didn't have narrow feet before, but I could still wear "normal" shoes. My most recent trip to find women's dress shoes was a nightmare. Fancy flip flops is about as dressy as I seem to be able to get now. If there are any shoe makers out there, this is an untapped market that I suspect will be growing, hint, hint.


on October 22, 2011
at 06:13 AM

I think this is another case of science confirming the obvious. You can go back to the cartoon stereotype of the barefoot hillbilly in the early 20th century. Those cartoons show wide feet with turned up, well-spaced or even wildly-spaced toes.




on July 22, 2011
at 12:55 AM

i know my feet have changed . they are wider and the toes are space wider apart



on May 15, 2013
at 06:18 PM

My feet look SO much different after a year of barefoot shoes. And yes, they're definitely wider. I used to be the queen of wearing Converse Chuck Taylor's, and now they're the most uncomfortable shoes I own. Why are they so narrow?! All of my toes used to have pretty bad hammertoe, and while they still aren't straight, they're certainly much better. My pinky toes used to completely curl under to the point where you couldn't actually see the nail. That's straightened out somewhat too. Even just a few hours in normal shoes now causes so much pain! It's not worth it.


on May 15, 2013
at 11:28 AM

My feet are getting wider I reckon. Normal shoes now cause corns! :(



on May 15, 2013
at 06:58 AM

Is there any way to reduce foot width? I have always worn flip-flops and my feet are very wide. Now, will I be able to shape my feet back to normal by wearing good sports shoes? Or is it an irreversible damage to my foot?



on July 22, 2011
at 02:41 AM

I've always had marginally wide feet, and always preferred going barefoot or wearing flip-flops over regular tennies or dress shoes. Ever since I was a teenager, I've constantly had to dig out ingrown toenails.

I started wearing my Vibrams last summer as much as I could, and flip-flops or open-toed heels for the other times, and my toes are much happier! Since my feet are usually "resting", eg toes spread out normally all day, I loathe wearing tennis shoes and boots (unless they're dressy boots or shoes that I won't be wearing for more than a few hours). My dad always went around with bare feet (esp around the house and yard), but mom would always make sure to wear shoes when she went outside the house. I've definitely got feet from my dad's side of the family. Even my second cousin Fred (dad's first cousin) and I have similar feet, and he's a barefoot dude all the way, lol.


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