Are you looking for a pair of running shoes? You might be talked into buying the first one you see, but there are different factors to consider.
If you’re new to running, you may think that all running shoes are the same, but that isn’t true at all. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, “there is no right shoe that fits all runners”.
However, most runners acknowledge that a pair of wide toe box running shoes greatly enhances their runs. In this article, we will talk about wide-toe box running shoes to help you determine if they are well-suited for your needs. Let’s start!
What Are Wide Toe Box Running Shoes?
A wide toe box running shoe is a kind of running shoe with a broader space surrounding the toes.
This running shoe makes your feet and toes splay in their natural shape. It gives more room for your feet, especially for those that have wide feet.
Wide Toe Vs. Wide Size Shoes
You might confuse wide toe running shoes with wide size ones. Although they both have the word ‘wide’ in their names, they’re not the same.
In particular, wide toe running shoes are well-suited for those who have a broader toe width with a narrow heel. On the other hand, wide-sized shoes are for runners with wide toe width and heels.
Both are great types of shoes as they have ample room for toes to splay naturally. However, you need to choose the right one that complements the shape of your foot.
Who Needs Wide Toe Box Running Shoes?
Runners with wide toe width highly benefit from wearing wide toe box running shoes. Some wide-toe box running shoes can accommodate extra wide-toe widths (4E).
However, they need to have a narrow heel width also so they can fit into a pair. The running shoes cannot accommodate a broad heel.
Wide Toe Box Running Shoes Benefits When Exercising
Compared to the modern footwear, a pair of shoes with a broader toe box boasts many advantages.
Accommodates swelling. The bigger space in the toe box allows room for swelling toes, a typical problem when running long distances.
Helps avoid foot conditions. Wide-toe box running shoes also alleviate any pain from bunions and hammertoes.
Lowers the risk of injury. Wide toe box running shoes can eliminate typical running injuries like rolling of the ankle.
Improves stability and mobility. Naturally spread out toes create more surface area, which then increases your balance and maneuverability while running.
Gives comfort. Having a wide toe box means that your toes can be as comfortable as they can be.
Alleviate plantar fasciitis. A wide toe box enhances the strength of the foot’s arch and reduces the inflammation caused by plantar fasciitis.
Barefoot Vs. Zero Drop
Another set of terms that are often confused with each other are barefoot and zero drop running shoes. The two emerged after the boom of minimalist running.
However, the two are entirely different, and it has something to do with the drop. Drop is the difference between the heel’s height and your foot’s ball.
Although we don’t notice it, our shoes have some kind of drop to them. The perfect example of high drop shoes with heels.
Barefoot running shoes, also called five-toe shoes, have 2 to 5mm of drop. This pair of shoes are lighter and have less cushion.
Zero drop running shoes, on the other hand, have a drop of 0mm. It’s lighter than those barefoot running shoes and more flexible.
The only thing the two are the same is they sometimes fall under the wide toe box running shoes. Most zero-drop shoes have a wide toe box, while some barefoot running shoes also have a wide toe space.
Confused by the different types of running shoes available? Check out our Running Shoes Guide.
What Foot Conditions Do you Have?
Whatever kind of running you prefer, it’s not a good experience when you have foot conditions. Toe and foot deformities are not rare today and are usually caused by tightly fitted running shoes.
There are 5 conditions caused by tight or small shoes, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Luckily, runners can avoid these conditions when wearing wide toe box running shoes.
- Bunion – A bunion happens when the tissue or bone at the joint of the big toe enlarges. As it increases in size, the big toe moves towards the second toe and causes swelling.
Bunions are more prevalent in women than men. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, 55% of women in the US have bunions.
- Diabetic Foot – People diagnosed with diabetes experience nerve damage in their feet and are susceptible to injuries. Wearing tight shoes will cause their feet to form blisters or sores. These blisters and sores can go unseen as the nerve damage causes their feet to be numb.
- Corn – Corns are formed either due to constant pressure or when toes rub against each other or the shoe.
- Hammer Toe – Hammer’s toes happen when the joints in your toes bend upward due to the cramped space in your shoes. The top of the arch sometimes develops corns which can be extremely painful.
- Crossover Toe – As the name suggests, a crossover toe happens when a toe overlaps with its adjacent toe.
Are Foot Shaped Toe Box Running Shoes Really Useful?
By choosing running shoes shaped like your feet, you can eliminate minor (and maybe major) hiccups while running. These kinds of shoes train your feet to be strong and prepare them for long-running sessions.
The widest part of our feet is our toes. However, most of the footwear today is designed with a tight, bullet-shaped tip.
This shape creates tension that can lead to different foot conditions. Wide toe box running shoes are designed not to cram our toes in a tight space.
According to a study made by Michael Wilkinson and colleagues, “narrow, stiff-soled” can “potentially compromise foot structure and function.” Helen Branthwaite and her associates also saw in their study that pointed shoes put on more pressure on our feet.
Our Top 2021 Picks for the Best Wide Toe Box Running Shoes
Here is a list of the top wide toe box running shoes along with their pros and cons. Through this, you can determine which one suits you best.
1. Altra Torin 5
The Altra Torin 5 is the best-selling wide toe box running shoe. It has sizes for both men and women.
It is a neutral running shoe that is best for runners with basic to mild pronation. This model has a sleeker heel cup which provides better positioning.
The midsole is made from Altra’s new Quantic foam, making it soft and comfortable to run. It also features a 6mm footbed and a mesh upper for the highest level of breathability.
The Altra Torin 5, however, has a similar fit to the original Escalante. Although they’re the same, this one’s marketed higher.
2. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080V11
New Balance is one of the reputable brands in creating comfortable yet stylish and functional sports footwear. Their shoes tend to have wider toe boxes, like the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080V11.
It has a drop of 8mm and has New Balance’s trademark Fresh Foam midsole for extra cushion. New Balance also offers this model in different widths, from narrow to extra wide.
Another great feature is its Ortholite Premium insole. The insoles provide ample support on your arch and also add another set of cushioning.
The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080V11 also helps to relieve pain to runners who suffer from plantar fasciitis.
3. Topo Magnifly 3
The Topo Magnifly 3 is bulkier than some of the wide toe box running shoes. It compensates with its cushioning.
It has an EVA midsole which makes the bottom layer more responsive. The outsole has a rocker design that assists you in propelling forward when running.
The running shoes have a stiffer structure which keeps your foot in place all the time.
4. Hoka One One Gaviota 2
Hoka One One has made a difference with its Gaviota 2. The company used its J-Frame technology, giving more support to your feet.
The technology also decreases the energy you exert on the rebound. It uses a fusion of EVA rubber and foam for its frame to further boost stability.
Its eye-catching design matches its lightness. Moreover, it has a 5mm drop even though it’s lightweight.
Although it has a narrower toe box than its counterparts, it still gives stability, comfort, and durability.
5. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
The Adrenaline GTS 21 has a spacious toe box like the other running shoes from Brooks. What sets this apart is its unique guide rail technology.
The GTS 21 has plastic guide rails acting as bumpers. These rails help readjust your feet as they overpronate while you run.
It’s also lightweight, even though it’s a stability shoe. Brooks used their BioMoGo DNA and DNA Loft midsole cushioning for the GTS 21 to support feet with flat to medium arch.
The GTS 21 is far from a zero drop shoe as it has a 12mm drop. It focuses more on stability than being minimalist.
What Happens if You Have a Poorly-fitted Toebox?
According to a study in 2018, 63 to 72% of people aren’t wearing shoes that can accommodate their toes. Many complications are arising from poorly-fitted toebox.
One significant problem is the pain associated with it. An ill-fitting toebox causes swelling, bunions, calluses, and corns.
Worst comes to worst, you can experience peripheral or diabetic neuropathy (also called a diabetic foot). These conditions make your feet feel numb and sometimes feel like pins and needles stab you.
Another problem that can arise is foot deformity. Your toes can overlap with each other, which can only be reversed through surgery.
Zero Drop and Wide Toe Box Running Shoes
Most zero-drop shoes are considered to be wide toe box running shoes. However, it’s not true the other way around.
Not all wide toe box running shoes are zero drop shoes.
Is It Better To Get Running Shoes A Size Bigger?
The answer is definitely no. You don’t want to have a pair of running shoes bigger than your foot size.
More oversized shoes mean you can’t run properly, and you’ll drag them while running. Also, it can cause injuries and accidents.
Well-fitted running shoes ensure that you have a great running experience by giving stability and comfort.
1. What is zero drop, and why do so many wide toe box shoes have a zero drop?
Zero drop means it has little to no heel-to-toe height difference. It means that your heel and toes are on the same level.
Wide toe box shoes promote the natural structure of your feet; most of them have zero drop.
2. Does running or walking with zero drop shoes feel different than other running shoes?
Running with zero drop shoes makes you feel closer to the ground. It allows more flexibility while you’re running or walking.
You also feel lighter as opposed to running with traditional footwear. It can also increase the strength of your foot, ankles, and leg muscles.
Zero drop shoes also eliminate the pain in your knees, back, hips, and plantar fasciitis when using ordinary running shoes.
3. Would the running shoes with a wide toe box be roomier if I go with a wide shoe?
Of course, it would be more spacious. However, it would cause you injuries due to the space difference.
Bigger-sized shoes can cause blisters, and you might fall as you’ll drag the shoes along. It is best to pick a pair of shoes that complements your toe and heel width.
If you have a narrow heel but wide toes, go for a pair of wide toe box running shoes. In contrast, go for wide running shoes if you have wide heels and toes.
When it comes to running, comfort plays a crucial role.
Without a doubt, our feet are not meant to be crammed into a tight toe box. Selecting the correct wide-toe box running shoes is the easiest way to make sure your feet are comfortable.
There you have it! Did you find this article helpful? Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments section, or leave us a message if you have questions.