Do you know if you have different-sized feet? If not, an easy way to find out is to trace each foot on a sheet of paper and then measure the longest and widest parts using a ruler; you can also use a tape measure to measure the width of your feet more accurately. Compare the two measurements to see if there’s a difference in size.
There are subtle differences between our left and right sides, even though we tend to think of our bodies as symmetrical. For example, you may have one foot that is slightly bigger than the other. In fact, it is more common to have different-sized feet than it is to have feet that are exactly the same size.
Left feet are generally the larger of the two. But there is usually a reason why the left foot is more prominent. For most people, the right side of the body is dominant. This can be seen when we walk; it is easier to maintain our balance when we step forward with our left foot. The right foot is stepping forward a little more tentatively, and, as a result, the left foot is exercised somewhat more thoroughly, grows stronger, and becomes slightly bigger in size.
Your feet can grow differently based on how you use them. If you favour one foot more when playing sports, that foot may grow larger. Additionally, your feet may get bigger as you age due to the flattening of the arches. This change can happen more quickly in one foot than in the other, which can result in size variations.
More than half of adults have different sized feet
Around 60% of individuals have a foot that is larger and/or wider than the other. In the great majority of cases, these discrepancies aren’t noticeably troublesome.
To put this into perspective, let’s consider shoe sizes. As Clarks’ size guide shows, The small differences between each shoe size correspond to about a one-centimetre difference in foot length. For example, women’s shoes in size five are designed for feet that are 23.7 centimetres long. Size six accommodates those with feet 24.6 centimetres in length.
Different sized feet can often mean a difference of less than 1 cm in length. So, if you have one foot that is longer than the other, there’s a good chance you won’t need two different size shoes. The same can be said for feet that are different widths.
Noticeable differences in foot length are linked to health problems
In extremely rare cases, there can be a significant difference in size between two feet, which can be indicative of an underlying health condition. For example, Jessica Gray, a young woman from Canada whose right foot is size nine and left foot size seven, has drawn attention to this issue in the press. When Jessica was born, doctors discovered that her spine had not developed properly due to a condition called spina bifida. This can cause bone and muscle abnormalities which often result in foot problems. For Jessica, this meant that her left foot stopped growing several years before she reached adulthood.
Differently sized feet can also be caused by other health problems, such as clubfoot or scoliosis. Injuries can also lead to changes in foot size, especially if they occur during development. For example, if the foot is immobilized in a cast, the muscles will weaken and shrink.
Take extra care with footwear
When it comes to shoes, be extra careful if your feet are of different sizes. If one foot is 1 ½ size bigger than the other (or more), it’s best to buy shoes in two different sizes. Some retailers have a ‘split-size’ policy where you can buy one shoe in size eight and the other in size 9 ½, for example.
If you’re having trouble finding shoes that fit both of your feet comfortably, try this tip: buy the size that fits your larger foot, and put an insole or orthotic in the shoe for your smaller foot. This will help to keep your smaller foot from moving around too much and prevent blisters and calluses.
Remember, if you are having any foot-related problems, we are here to help. You can contact us to book an appointment or fill in our online contact form and we will get back to you.
*This blog contains general information about medical conditions and is not advice. You must not rely upon the information in this blog as medical advice. Medical advice should always be sought from an appropriately qualified podiatrist such as ourselves.