Wide Width Shoes - The Essential Guide

By Steven Gershman DPM  /  March 21, 2023 Blog Home

 Wearing shoes that are too narrow for your feet can not only be extremely uncomfortable and painful, but also cause unpleasant foot conditions, such as ingrown toenails, corns, calluses, and metatarsalgia, or worsen existing ones, such as bunions and hammertoes. To address these issues, consider exploring options like the best shoes for Morton's neuroma, which are designed to relieve nerve pain in the ball of the foot. Additionally, for those suffering from skin irritations, finding the best shoes for corns and calluses can help reduce the pressure that exacerbates these conditions. If you experience pain in the ball of your foot, it might be beneficial to look into the shoes for metatarsalgia, specifically tailored to alleviate this type of pain. Moreover, learning how to prevent bunions is essential for those with narrow footwear that could lead to or worsen foot deformities.

If you’re experiencing any of these issues, switching to wide, extra wide, or even extra extra wide shoe sizes can offer substantial relief and comfort. However, finding wide fit shoes can be challenging, as most footwear is designed for the average foot, which typically fits a medium width. While medium width shoes are readily available at conventional shoe stores and through online brands, wider options often require shopping at orthopedic shoe companies or specialty footwear brands. These companies, such as Orthofeet, specialize in designing and developing shoes such as wide shoes for men and women’s wide shoes.

What Are Wide Shoes?

Wide width shoes are a wider version of standard sized shoes, with wider than normal features, such as a toe box that gives the toes plenty of room. Normally, these shoes are also different all around, including girth, straps, special laces and so on. 

With a wider toe box, the toes of individuals with wide feet can naturally spread out as they walk, preventing the painful pinching sensation that is common when you wear shoes that are too narrow for your feet. 

Good wide width shoes also tend to be deeper and are wider from the front to back, not just in the forefoot, since usually, wide  feet are also taller than the standard. This means that if they are designed with straps or laces, these features will be longer than usual to accommodate the increased girth. 

What’s Considered A Wide Foot?

If your feet feel uncomfortable in most shoes, even the ones that are not particularly narrow, you may be wearing the wrong width. So, the most obvious sign that your feet are on the wider side is quite simple: your feet feel squeezed-in in every pair of shoes you wear, even when the fit of the length is perfect.

Some may try to move on to longer length shoes, but, although these could provide a bit more room for the toes, shoe length that doesn't fit right at the heel or toe box could result in slippage that leads to trips and falls, and cause blisters and other issues. 

How To Know If You Have Wide Feet?

Ideally, the best way to determine if your feet are wide would be to measure them, but unfortunately there is no universal width measurement chart that would allow you determine what width you need from any shoe brand. 

Our suggestion, while simple and unsophisticated, is to determine if your current shoe width is too tight for you. For example, if you purchased from a mainstream brand, it is likely your width is a B (standard). You can verify this by looking inside the shoe, on the tongue or side of the upper.

If you feel your feet are being squeezed in, you need to go up in width, so a wide would be the next width up and so forth. Luckily, many online shoe retailers have  friendly shipping and return policies that allow exchanges if the fit is not good.

How is width measured?

There are three factors taken into consideration that determines shoe width:

  1. the length of the foot.
  2. the measurement between the widest points on the foot, i.e., the outer edge of the foot to the inner edge of the forefoot area (known as ball width).
  3. the circumference of the instep (known as instep girth). 

Wide width shoes are wider across the shoe, deeper from top to bottom, roomier in the toe box area, and have a generous instep to accommodate wide shoes for swollen feet.



Whereas medium-width shoes often don’t include a width label, wide-width shoes come with a label indicating their width. Therapeutic shoes or orthopedic shoes such as Orthofeet shoes, are available in wider widths, and the width is designated by letters.

The letters differ for men and women since men’s feet tend to be larger and wider than women’s feet. Normally a wide width shoe for women is indicated with the letter D; for men a wide width shoe is indicated with 2E.

Women’s Extra-wide shoes for women are indicated with 2E and for men an extra wide width shoe is indicated with 4E

For most people requiring wider shoes, a wider shoe at the ball- of-the-foot and toe-box is most important. When measured at the ball-of-the-foot, the difference between shoe widths is approximately 1/4”. A wide width is 1/4” wider than a medium width and an extra wide width is 1/2” wider than a medium width.

People with foot swelling or edema symptoms may benefit from additionally measuring their instep girth, which will help them choose the appropriate shoe width. In general, the instep girth of the shoe increases 3/16” for every increase in width for the same length.

B width

This is the medium width for women and considered the “standard” one. Almost all the shoes you find in the retail store or online sites are this width. For men, this width is considered narrow. 

D width

Normally, a wide width shoe for women is indicated with the letter D, while it’s considered medium for men.

E width

E describes a wide width shoe for men and extra wide shoe for women.

EE width

The more ‘E’s you add the wider the shoe, so EE, or 2E is a wide shoe for men and extra wide for women.

Visit the shoe sizing chart for a complete list of the different width sizes for men and women.

How to find comfortable wide-width shoes

There are important features to look for in comfortable wide shoes to ensure that they fit properly, and provide comfort, support and pain relief, such as the ones found at Orthofeet's orthotic shoes.

The extra depth design and the roomy toe-box area provides extra room for toe movement and a comfortable, non-binding fit. Included with every pair of shoes are two sets of removable spacers that allow you to adjust the space inside the shoe for a perfect fit. Stretchable materials allow the uppers to perfectly form to the contours of the foot offering a loose, customized fit and easing pressure on bunions and hammertoes.

One of the biggest challenges faced when searching for a good pair of wide width shoes is finding a pair that is stylish as well as comfortable, as there are usually limited style options for comfortable dress shoes for wide feet.

Luckily, there are orthopedic shoe brands that offer wide width shoes without compromising on style, whether you’re looking for the best wide width shoes for women or for men.


Can I wear wide fit shoes if I have a normal foot width?

If you’re comfortable wearing wide width shoes even though your feet are standard width, then it’s not an issue. In fact, wearing wide width shoes with normal feet can sometimes be more comfortable when you go on long walks. 

But, whether or not it’s a good idea to wear wide width shoes with standard feet depends not only on comfort, but also on the activities you’re planning to engage in. 

For example, it is not advised for individuals with normal foot width to wear wide width shoes if they’re participating in sports activities, because it could cause falls, muscle pain, blisters and other foot problems. 

In addition, if your shoes are too wide it’s best to avoid walking and running on slippery or uneven surfaces, because your feet may slip inside the shoe, leading to loss of balance and falls. Regular-fit shoes would be the better choice in such instances, simply because they hold your feet better.  

Does a wide shoe make a difference?

If you have wider feet then the answer is very clear: Yes! 

Squeezing a wide foot into a narrow shoe can not only be uncomfortable and painful, but also cut off the blood circulation in your feet, causing foot pain as well as a long list of foot problems. 

With wide width shoes you can give your feet both the space and the support they need and allow the foot to function properly.

Are wide shoes better for flat feet?

Unless your flat feet are narrow, many people with flat feet can benefit from wide width shoes and should avoid shoes with a narrow forefoot. 

As people with flat feet tend to apply more pressure on the toe area, with more room for the toes, wide shoes can help prevent toe cramping.

For those seeking the right shoe for various needs, whether it's a walking shoe, an athletic shoes, or even a running shoe for more active lifestyles, choosing footwear that accommodates the widest part of your foot is crucial. This ensures not only comfort but also helps in managing conditions like hammer toes, heel pain, or any other foot condition. When looking for the perfect shoe, consider the unique needs of your feet to ensure optimal comfort and function.