What Does Shoe Width Actually Mean?

Over the past 5-6 years, I have been constantly whining, pissing and moaning about the running shoes that I wear and how they feel on my right foot (too damn tight)!

I have tried so damn many shoes and I think I might have found the problem.


Now I have never really thought all that much about different width shoes inspite or is that despite of all my bellyaching about my running shoes. Since I had a snow day from work and some extra time to think (yeah, I know that IS an oxymoron, with me), I decided to look up what the width coding of B, D, E, EE actually mean.

No, I haven’t ever done it before.

Yes, I have been a running shoe snob forever it seems, but don’t know crap about what widths actually meant.

I don’t think that I am alone.

So I did my usual Google research and the site that gave me the best description was this one:

Source: What Does Shoe Width E, EE, D, and DD Mean? | LIVESTRONG.COM

D Width

A D-width is considered a medium for men and a wide for women. It measures between 3 and 5 inches across the bottom of the ball of the foot, depending on your shoe size. For instance, in men’s footwear, a size 10D is 4 inches across, while a size 14D is 4.5 inches across.

There is a lot more good information on width’s in the article.

I don’t know if this is a standard or just guidelines, but at least it gives me an idea of what the width designations might mean. However, it doesn’t take into account the taper of the toe box, upper materials, seams and overlays on the sides as other factors that impact the width of a shoe or how it feels on my feet.

However the D-width is the width of the typical men’s running shoe in stores, online, etc., that I end up buying.

Based on that new knowledge I got out my trusty, handy-dandy yardstick and measured how wide my foot is.


Pretty damn close to 4″.

Which explains a lot.

Whenever I get measured on the Brannock device, I measure out somewhere between a 7.5 and 8.0 size shoe, then the “experts” who measured me don’t understand why I keep saying the running shoes they want me to try on are too tight on my foot in the toe box and we keep sizing up, until I get to a shoe size that is way too long, but fits width wise.

I wonder if sometimes the experts forget or some don’t realize that as the shoe size decreases in many brands, so does the width of the shoe or least that is what I gathered from the articles that I read today.

So for people like me with short, but wide Hobbit feet, your typical D-Width ain’t gonna work real well, especially with the addition of a Tailor’s Bunionette on my right foot.

A good example of this was yesterday when I was at Dick’s in Augusta and tried on a couple of pair of shoes in my “normal” 8.5 and ended up in a 9.5 in the Nike Pegasus and Nike Free RN, which were too long in length, but fit great in the toe box. Another example was the Saucony Triumph ISO 2’s size 8.5 that I recently ordered from Running Warehouse fit perfectly on the length, but were too tight in the forefoot and hurt my feet to run in them.

Now from what I can figure most size 8.0 running shoes are probably 3.5″ or less in width. Which means that more than likely most D-Width shoes are going to be about a 1/2 inch too narrow on my Hobbit feet.

No wonder my feet hurt so damn much in some running shoes and

…probably part of the reason why my little toe has permanently turned in and presses against my 4th toe.

Geez, I wish that I had known right along, but it never really occurred to me that something as simple as getting an E or EE shoe might resolve the issues I have had with my running shoes (Ignorance is bliss). Especially, after having been measured several times by “expert fitters” at running stores over the years – no one ever talked about trying a different width shoe, even after measuring my foot with a Brannock device.

Well we will see how the Adidas Tempo 8’s 8.5 fit that have shipped from Running Warehouse and if they do not, then I will look at running shoes in a wider width.

The only question that I have is how does changing the width, change the heel fit? Do shoes with a wider width mean a wider heel?

This is a concern, since while I might have a Hobbit forefoot, the good old heels are definitely on the skinny side.

Ahhh the joys of having weird feet, but at least I think that I have solved part of the problem that has vexed me for several years regarding why the shoes at the running stores never seem to fit me quite right and I have to try on a seeming multitude of shoes and settle on the ones that hurt the least.

Another thing to think about when buying new running shoes, but at least I have a little more knowledge about how shoe fitting is supposed to work.

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