Ill-fitting shoes are a common culprit behind numerous foot problems. They can cause foot pain, corns, callouses, and even deformities. Wearing the wrong shoe size can also lead to a decrease in overall foot health. According to a 2018 study, only 28 to 37% of people wear shoes of the right length and width. This means that a significant portion of the population is subjecting their feet to unnecessary stress and discomfort.

Here’s a quick rundown of the primary issues caused by ill-fitting shoes:

  • Foot Pain: Persistent discomfort that can make walking unbearable.
  • Corns and Callouses: Thickened skin areas caused by constant friction or pressure.
  • Foot Deformities: Conditions like bunions and hammertoes that worsen over time.
  • Reduced Mobility: Difficulty walking or even standing due to foot pain.

Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.” Yet, this masterpiece is often overlooked until problems arise. Proper shoe size measurement is essential to maintaining foot health. Ill-fitting shoes can lead to severe issues like neuropathy in older adults and people with diabetes, sometimes even resulting in amputations.

I’m Eric Neuner, founder of NuShoe Inc., where our mission is to offer the highest quality shoe repair and customer service. With decades of experience, we understand the critical role the right fit plays in foot health. Next, we’ll delve deeper into the consequences of ill-fitting shoes and how to avoid them.

The Consequences of Ill-Fitting Shoes

Ill-fitting shoes can lead to more than just temporary discomfort. They can cause serious foot problems and affect your overall quality of life. Let’s explore the consequences of wearing shoes that don’t fit properly.


Peripheral neuropathy is a painful condition that causes pins and needles in your feet and reduces your ability to feel where your feet are. A 2017 study found that among older adults with foot lesions, only 14% were wearing the right size shoes. Tight shoes can worsen neuropathy by putting pressure on the nerves and causing wounds and ulcers.

For people with diabetic neuropathy, the stakes are even higher. Nearly 100,000 amputations occur each year in the U.S. due to diabetes-related neuropathy. High blood sugar levels damage nerves and blood vessels, leading to poor healing and increased risk of infection. This is why people with diabetes should never ignore burning feet or numb toes.

Foot Pain and Deformities

Wearing the wrong size shoes can cause various foot deformities. Hammertoe is a common issue where the middle joint of the toe bends, causing pain and calluses. Shoes that are too tight or have the wrong shape can exacerbate this condition.

Corns and calluses are thickened skin areas that form due to pressure and friction from ill-fitting shoes. A 2018 review of 18 studies found a strong link between poorly-fitting shoes and foot pain, including deformities like hammertoe and calluses.

Ingrown Toenails

Shoes that are too narrow or short can cause ingrown toenails. This happens when the edge of a toenail grows into the surrounding skin, leading to pain, redness, and possible infection. Ingrown toenails are most common on the big toe but can occur on any toe. Properly fitting shoes can help prevent this painful condition.

Decreased Quality of Life

Foot pain and conditions caused by ill-fitting shoes can significantly decrease your quality of life. Women, in particular, report that foot problems affect their daily activities and well-being. This is likely because women’s shoes are often designed more for style than comfort.

In older adults, foot pain can lead to falls, reduced mobility, and loss of independence. Ensuring that shoes fit well is crucial for maintaining balance and preventing falls.

Foot Pain - ill fitting shoes

As you can see, the consequences of wearing ill-fitting shoes are far-reaching. From neuropathy to decreased quality of life, the right fit is essential for your overall health. Next, we will look at some common conditions caused by ill-fitting shoes and how to address them.

Common Conditions Caused by Ill-Fitting Shoes

Ingrown Nails

Wearing narrow shoes or high heels can put excessive pressure on your toes. This pressure can cause the toenail to grow into the surrounding skin, leading to ingrown nails. Symptoms include redness, swelling, and pain, and if left untreated, it can result in infections.

ingrown toenail - ill fitting shoes

Foot Ulcers

Foot ulcers are open sores that can develop from blisters, scrapes, or other injuries. They are particularly common in people with diabetes or nerve issues due to reduced sensation in the feet. Ill-fitting shoes can exacerbate these problems by causing friction and pressure points.

foot ulcer - ill fitting shoes

Heel Pain

Heel pain is often caused by plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, or tarsal tunnel syndrome. Shoes that lack proper arch support or cushioning can aggravate these conditions. The pain is typically sharp and concentrated in the heel, making it difficult to walk.

heel pain - ill fitting shoes


Bunions are painful, bony bumps that form on the joint at the base of your big toe. They are often caused by wearing tight, narrow, or pointy shoes. Over time, the big toe pushes against the next toe, leading to inflammation and pain.

Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungus thrives in environments with pressure and moisture, conditions that are common in poor-fitting shoes. Symptoms include discolored, thickened, and brittle nails. Properly fitting shoes can help prevent this by allowing better airflow and reducing moisture buildup.

toenail fungus - ill fitting shoes


Hammertoe is a deformity where one or more toes are bent upward at the middle joint. This condition is often caused by wearing narrow or pointy shoes. Over time, it can lead to pain, corns, and calluses.

Understanding these common conditions can help you take proactive steps to avoid them. Next, we’ll explore how to choose properly fitting shoes to prevent these issues.

How to Choose Properly Fitting Shoes

Signs Your Shoes Are the Wrong Size

Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly can lead to a host of issues. Here are some signs that your shoes might be the wrong size:

  • Pain and Discomfort: If your feet hurt after wearing shoes for a short time, they might be too tight or too loose.
  • Bruising on Toenails: This can happen if your shoes are too tight in the toe box.
  • Blisters: Constant rubbing can cause blisters, indicating the shoes are either too tight or too loose.
  • Calluses: These can form from repeated friction or pressure.
  • Skin Irritation: Red, itchy, or peeling skin around your toenails can be a sign of shoes that don’t fit well.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s time to check your shoe size.

Tips for Proper Shoe Fitting

Choosing the right shoes can make a big difference in your foot health. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect fit:

  • Measure Your Feet: Foot size can change over time. Measure your feet at least once or twice a year, or whenever you buy new shoes. One foot is usually larger than the other, so use the larger foot as a guide.
  • Try On Shoes at the End of the Day: Feet swell throughout the day. Trying on shoes in the evening ensures they fit comfortably even when your feet are at their largest.
  • Check the Toe Box: The toe box should be made of soft, expansive material and provide enough room for your toes to wiggle. A square or round toe box is preferable to a pointed one.
  • Consider Shoe Shape and Material: Shoes should match the shape of your feet. Look for shoes with a deeper toe box if you have bunions or hammertoes. Soft materials are generally more comfortable than hard ones.
  • Evaluate the Shoe Construction: The shoe should bend at the toe box, not the arch. A stable shank provides better support. Check the heel counter for stability and ensure it sits higher on the heel.
  • Account for Brand Differences: Shoe sizes can vary between brands. A size 8 in one brand might fit like a size 7.5 in another. Always try on shoes before buying if possible.

By following these tips, you can avoid the pain and discomfort caused by ill-fitting shoes and ensure your feet stay healthy and happy. Next, we’ll look at the role of technology in ensuring a proper fit.

The Role of Technology in Ensuring Proper Fit

Volumental’s FitTech

Finding the right shoe size can be tricky. Volumental’s FitTech aims to make it easier. Using computer vision, purchase data, and AI, this technology scans your feet and recommends shoes that fit perfectly.

How does it work? In just four seconds, FitTech captures a 3D scan of your feet. This scan collects data on your foot shape and size, then matches it with millions of other scans. The result? Accurate shoe recommendations that reduce the chances of buying ill-fitting shoes.

Why is this important? According to Volumental, 44% of shoppers have returned shoes due to poor fit. With FitTech, returns have dropped by 20%. This technology helps shoppers find well-fitting shoes, improving comfort and reducing foot problems like blisters and bunions.

Nike Fit App

Nike has also stepped up to tackle the issue of ill-fitting shoes with their Nike Fit app. This app uses a combination of computer vision, data science, machine learning, and AI to measure your feet.

How does it work? Simply use your smartphone camera to scan your feet. The app collects 13 data points to create a detailed profile of your foot dimensions. This data is stored in your NikePlus member profile, making it easy to find the right shoe size for future purchases.

Why is it effective? Nike’s research shows that 60% of people wear the wrong shoe size. The Nike Fit app aims to change that by providing precise measurements and shoe recommendations. This not only enhances comfort but also helps prevent foot issues like plantar fasciitis and stress fractures.

Both Volumental’s FitTech and the Nike Fit app are game-changers in footwear. They use advanced technology to ensure a proper fit, reducing the chances of foot pain and discomfort.

Next, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about ill-fitting shoes.

Frequently Asked Questions about Ill-Fitting Shoes

What are the signs of ill-fitting shoes?

Ill-fitting shoes can cause a host of problems, and the signs are often easy to spot. Look for the following:

  • Pain and discomfort: If your feet hurt, especially after wearing shoes for a short period, they probably don’t fit well.
  • Blisters and calluses: These form due to friction and pressure points from shoes that are too tight or too loose.
  • Ingrown toenails: Narrow or short shoes can press on your toes, causing the nails to grow into the skin.
  • Bruising: Dark spots on your toes or toenails can indicate that your shoes are too tight.
  • Corns and calluses: These thickened skin areas develop due to constant rubbing.
  • Skin irritation: Red, itchy, or peeling skin can be a sign of shoes that don’t breathe well or are too tight.

How often should I measure my feet?

Your foot size can change due to various factors like aging, weight changes, and pregnancy. It’s a good idea to measure your feet:

  • Every time you buy new shoes: Feet can change size, so always measure before purchasing.
  • After significant weight changes: Gaining or losing weight can affect your foot size.
  • During pregnancy: Hormonal changes can cause your feet to swell.
  • As you age: Feet can flatten and spread out over time.

Use a Brannock Device at a shoe store or a foot-measuring tool at home. Measure both feet and use the larger size as your guide.

Can technology help in finding the right shoe size?

Absolutely! Advances in technology are making it easier to find shoes that fit perfectly. Here are two notable examples:

  • Nike Fit App: This app uses your smartphone camera to scan your feet, collecting 13 data points to determine the ideal shoe size and style for you. It stores this data in your NikePlus profile, making future shoe shopping a breeze.
  • Volumental’s FitTech: This technology provides in-store foot scanning to create a 3D model of your feet. It helps you find the best-fitting shoes by comparing your foot shape with various shoe styles.

Both technologies aim to reduce the number of people wearing ill-fitting shoes, which currently stands at 60% according to Nike’s research. Using these tools can enhance comfort and prevent foot problems like plantar fasciitis and bunions.

Next, we’ll explore some common conditions caused by ill-fitting shoes.


At NuShoe Inspect & Correct, we understand the profound impact that ill-fitting shoes can have on your overall foot health. From foot pain and deformities to severe conditions like neuropathy and foot ulcers, the consequences are significant and far-reaching.

Proper shoe fitting is not just about comfort; it’s about maintaining your quality of life. Ill-fitting shoes can lead to a host of problems, including ingrown toenails, bunions, and even decreased mobility. These issues can drastically reduce your independence and overall well-being.

Our mission is to ensure that your footwear supports your foot health effectively. Our quality control inspection services help identify common shoe defects, ensuring that every pair meets the highest standards of quality and comfort.

Quality control is essential in preventing issues like excessive glue, weak bonds between the sole and upper, and scuff marks. By addressing these defects, we help manufacturers improve their processes and deliver shoes that fit well and last longer.

Shoe repair is another critical aspect of our services. We are dedicated to restoring and maintaining the quality of your shoes, ensuring they provide the necessary support and comfort. Whether it’s fixing a common shoe defect or providing detailed inspections, our goal is to keep your shoes in top condition.

Thank you for trusting NuShoe Inspect & Correct with your footwear needs. Together, we can enhance your foot health and quality of life by ensuring you wear shoes that fit perfectly.

If you have any questions or need more information about our services, please visit our quality control inspection page.

By focusing on proper shoe fitting and quality control, we can help you avoid the pitfalls of ill-fitting shoes and enjoy a healthier, more comfortable life.