Are Running Shoes Supposed to Be Tight? 4 Ideas on How to Choose the Best One

Whether you’re a competitive runner or a hobbyist, the most essential piece of equipment is your running shoes. They protect your feet, legs, hips, and back from any running injuries, while helping improve your athletic performance.

There are, however, far too many options to choose from. It’s also challenging to find the right running shoe fit, which begs the question, “Are running shoes supposed to be tight?”

In this article, we’ll look at the answer to that question, as well as the benefits of wearing the right pair of running shoes. We also have a few tips on how to choose the best running shoes for your feet, so be sure to stick around!

are running shoes supposed to be tight: woman tying running shoes

Are Running Shoes Supposed to Be Tight?

Running shoes are supposed to be snug-fitting, providing support and stability to your feet while allowing some wiggle room around the toes so you can bend and flex your feet freely.

Most people think that their running shoes need to be super tight and laced tightly. The problem is that when you run, your feet expand and flex, growing in size due to increased blood flow.

If your shoes are too tight, they’ll prevent your feet from expanding freely and flexing properly, which can have a negative effect on your posture and stride. A tight shoe will also affect how your feet and body absorb impact.

Conversely, if your running shoes are too loose, they’ll continue to slip off and rub against your heel, causing painful blisters and sore Achilles’ heels.

They’ll also be less supportive of your ankles, increasing the likelihood of a sprain or other related injuries.

If you’ve been wearing ill-fitting, especially tight running shoes, the first time you put on proper-fitting running shoes may feel strange.

Most runners report having the sensation that their feet are all over the place or swimming inside when they wear the correct size and shape of shoes.

However, it only takes about a week to get used to the proper running shoe fit.

woman running

Benefits of Wearing Right Fitting Shoes

When you’re running, as with any other physical activity, you need to use proper equipment to perform optimally and avoid injury.

Here are some of the advantages of wearing a running shoe that properly fits your foot:

Optimum Comfort

Most importantly, the right pair of running shoes will keep you and your feet comfortable.

Running shoes are typically designed to be as comfortable as possible. One of the advantages of wearing these shoes while running is the midsole and foot cushioning in most running shoes.

The cushioning alleviates some of the impact stress on the heels, ankles, and toes caused by running.

Then you have a little bit of space in front to wiggle your toes and flex your feet.

However, if you wear shoes that don’t fit you, you won’t be able to get the comfort you and your feet deserve.

No Foot-Related Injuries

Running in shoes that are tight or loose can lead to a variety of foot injuries over time.

While running, loose shoes can come off your feet and cause an accident. They can also cause chafing at the Achilles’ heels, which can lead to blisters.

Tight running shoes, on the other hand, can lead to blisters, corns, and calluses. It can even obstruct blood flow and limit the feet’s ability to flex as well as absorb impact.

Running shoes with a perfect fit reduce the likelihood of such injuries or mishaps occurring.

Lower Running-Related Risk

Wearing the wrong size shoes can lead to muscle cramps, ankle injuries, and knee injuries.

If you continue to wear the wrong size shoes, you may develop more serious conditions such as hammertoe, mallet toe, and bunions.

Better Performance Assistance

The right pair of running shoes can improve your running posture and foot strike, increasing your athletic performance.

Additionally, the right shoe will prevent you from experiencing foot pain, which can keep you from running for days.

variety of running shoes on a wooden floor with a water bottle in the middle

What Is the Ideal Fit for Running Shoes?

The best running shoe fit is one that allows your feet to bend and flex in all directions while running. It can contract when your feet hit the ground and expand when you take off.

Here are some guidelines to help you choose the best running shoe for your feet.

Toe Box

The toe box is the area of a shoe that surrounds the toes.

Poorly fitting toe boxes can cause injuries and even foot deformities, so make sure there’s enough room for your toes to wiggle, spread, and flex comfortably.

If your longest toe is the index toe, you want to make sure the toe box allows enough room for it.

Wearing tight, compressed running shoes can make cramped toes uncomfortable. In the worst-case scenario, some of those cramped toes may develop hammertoes.


While your toes require some breathing room, your soles should fit snugly into the midsoles of your running shoes, even without laces.

Just make sure that the midsoles aren’t too snug. During longer runs, the too-tight running shoes may be unable to accommodate your swelling feet.


The running shoe heel, like the midsoles, should fit snugly but not too tightly around your heel. Walk around the store, checking to see if the shoe rubs your ankles or slips off.

In either case, the running shoe isn’t the right fit. Any rubbing indicates that the shoe is too loose, which can lead to blisters.

If it’s slipping off, the shoe isn’t secure enough and could lead to an accident while running.

Running shoes being tied

How to Choose the Best Running Shoes

You need to take some measurements to be able to find the pair of running shoes that fit your feet perfectly.

Measure Foot Size

Ideally, all running shoe brands and models adhere to the same shoe sizing guidelines, and you can easily order size 7 running shoes online and have them perfectly fit your feet.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Even within the same brand, there has yet to be any uniformity in running shoe sizing. Each running shoe model may differ in length, width, and volume.

What’s more, most people have one foot that’s slightly longer or wider than the other. You’ll want to make sure that if this is the case for your feet, you buy the correct size for each one.

That’s why it’s always a good idea to measure both the length and width of your feet.

Foot Length

Measure the length of your foot from the heel up to the tip of the toes, then add a thumb’s width to the measurement to give your toes some wiggle room.

You can use size guides like this one to convert the measurements of your feet into shoe sizes.

If you’re looking to buy running shoes from a specific brand, you can always check their size and conversion charts to ensure you get the perfect fit.

Foot Width

There’s no specific measurement for foot width in shoes, but knowing your foot width can help you decide whether your feet need standard, slim-fitting, or wide running shoes.

Measure the width of your feet at the widest point, which is usually where the toes meet the foot. Remember to put on a thicker sock to get an accurate measurement of your foot size in a running shoe.

Shoe Volume

A shoe volume, which is frequently confused with width, is the measurement of the space inside the shoe. You can find a shoe’s volume by measuring the space between the shoe eyelets.

Tie your shoelaces snugly and place two fingers between the eyelets. If the space fits one finger, your shoe has too much volume. If it fits three fingers, your shoe doesn’t have enough volume.

However, if you can fit exactly two fingers between the eyelets, your running shoes should fit just about right.

Knowing the correct volume of your shoes can help you avoid many common running-related injuries, such as plantar fasciitis.

Consider Buying Running Shoes That Are Half a Size Bigger

Running shoes should be half a size bigger than your regular walking shoes.

This is due to the fact that when you’re running, the muscles in your feet temporarily expand, increasing the volume of your feet.

If you buy running shoes that aren’t a size bigger, they may be too tight while running, affecting your performance.

Just remember that if you think your running shoes are too tight, they most likely are. In general, you should wear shoes that allow your feet to expand and contract freely.

These shoes can help prevent ankle stiffness, knee problems, and other running-related injuries.

Buy Running Shoes in the Afternoon

Because our feet tend to swell a little after we walk or run, it’s always best to try on new running shoes in the afternoon.

If you try on new shoes first thing in the morning, they may feel fine at first but become tighter by the end of the day.

Final Thoughts On: Are Running Shoes Supposed to Be Tight

Almost every runner has wondered, “Are running shoes supposed to be tight?” at least once since they began running.

To get the most out of your running experience, your running shoes should be comfortable and snug-fitting, but not too tight.

They should have a snug fit around the heels and midsoles while still allowing room for the toes.

If your running shoes are ill-fitting in any way, you risk muscle cramping and even several running-related injuries.

Finally, keep in mind that running is all about trial and error, and finding the best-fitting running shoes is just one part of the process.

Just make sure you don’t wear an ill-fitting pair to avoid discomfort and injury. Happy running!