Foot Problems Associated with Tight Footwear

Foot Problems Associated with Tight Footwear

There is something to be said about fashionable footwear; however, when fashion wins over function, the result is often foot pain. When it comes to stylish footwear, many people prefer shoes that make their feet appear smaller – but you might choose shoes that are either too short or narrow for the foot by doing this.

Due to the complex anatomy of the foot, wearing tight shoes can lead to a variety of foot conditions that aren’t worth their stylish appearance.

Problems with tight shoes

Problems With Tight Shoes

The toes are the primary areas of the foot affected by wearing shoes that are too tight. For instance, painful ingrown toenails are often caused by wearing shoes that are either too short or narrow. Pressure against the nail bed can cause the nail to grow into the skin, rather than out.

Corns and calluses can also form on the toes as a barrier against a shoe that is too tight. Beyond callusing, a more permanent disfigurement called a bunion can form when you wear shoes that are too small. Although bunions are often hereditary, having the pressure of a shoe against a joint can help this condition progress.

Inspect your foot after wearing a new shoe. If you notice redness or indentations on your foot, these shoes could increase the risk of any of these conditions.

In other cases, the effects of wearing shoes that are too small are not visible to the naked eye. Metatarsalgia is a condition that involves pain, often in the ball of the foot.

Many bones and nerves, among other components, make up the front of the foot. Imagine taking a vice and slightly squeezing these parts together; you can also imagine the injury that may result. Over time, wearing a shoe that is too tight will have a similar effect.

A Morton’s Neuroma is a condition that involves numbness, tingling, or burning in the toes due to the thickening of the sheath around the nerve. A neuroma likely develops due to an irritation of the nerve, similar to why calluses form over a high-pressure area, both of which tight-fitting footwear can accelerate the growth of.

Getting The Right Fit

The next time you are shopping for new shoes, visit a trained professional with expertise in footwear fit and function, such as a Certified Pedorthist. We recommend going later in the afternoon when your feet are slightly swollen and at their largest size.

A fitting expert will measure the length and width of your foot, and use their knowledge of footwear brands and styles to choose the right one for you. Every brand of shoe fits slightly different. Therefore, it is important to focus on how your foot fits in the shoe rather than the number on the inside of the tongue.

Properly fitting running shoes will help you when you start running.

Look for about half of a thumb-width of room at the end of your toe for a casual shoe, and up to a full thumb-width for an athletic shoe. Avoid shoes that are too narrow; this may cause the sides of your foot to push out and beyond the sole of the shoe.

Finally, be sure to choose a shoe that does not create initial points of friction against your foot. For example, rubbing on the tops of your toes or the backs of your heels). If you notice any issues walking around the store, it could become a bigger problem down the road.

Talk To An Expert Today!

We expect a lot from our feet, so they least we can do is to give them a break and avoid shoes that are too small. Based on my experience of fitting thousands of shoes over the past seven years, I always say that it’s better to have a shoe slightly too big than slightly too small.

Visit a Kintec location near you, and ask a fitting expert or Pedorthists about finding the proper fit for you!

Chelsea Brown
Kintec Pedorthist, Chilliwack Store Manager

  • Denisse White

    January 13, 2019 at 9:54 pm Reply

    I bought a pair of winter boots a few days ago. I went with a slightly bigger pair becasue they are boots but I put insoles to have a better fit. they did not feel too too tight with the insoles but after two hours of wearing them my right foot was in great pain, like all the bones connecting the toes were aching, but my big toe was especially bad. The company is not taking them back as i wore them outside for a while. Now my toe is slightly better and i am thinking perhaps if i can wear them without the insoles they would feel more comfortable but i am so afraid that it will hurt again. Do you have any insights as to why this might have happened? and would you suggest trying them one more time without the insoles? Thank you so much for your time in advance!

    • Kintec

      January 14, 2019 at 9:29 am Reply

      Hey Denisse, thank you for your question. Do you live near a Kintec location? If so, we can assess you in person and find out what solution works best for you. All of our locations can be found here:

      If not, we would recommend finding a Canadian Certified Pedorthist to speak to here: They will be able to make more accurate recommendations if they speak to you in person.

  • Janis Roberts

    February 4, 2019 at 4:43 pm Reply

    Hi so I bought clogs for my phlebotomy class last week. They felt fine at first, and then my left foot felt too tight in it. It’s a five hour class so I had to tough it out. I’ve oly worn them once. Now, I don’t know if this has to do with it but 5 days later and randomly when I was wearing my ugg boots I had this pain in the same foot. I couldn’t bend my big toe to walk or I get this shooting pain through the top of my foot on the medial side. For the past two hours I’ve not been able to walk properly. I’m resting it now, but taking off the boot also activated the pain as well.

    • Kintec

      February 13, 2019 at 4:06 pm Reply

      That doesn’t sound good! If you can, come to a Kintec near you to talk to a pedorthist about your symptoms. They will be able to help you find a solution, or at least point you in the right direction.

  • Riti Kumar

    February 19, 2019 at 11:09 am Reply

    Hello Team,

    I want to consult something important because I guess this is the right platform to consult.

    I have many pairs of high heels and stilettos, out of which most of them I have worn only once that also when I had bought them. After that I have packed and stored the shoes in their respective boxes.

    I just want to know that do the quality and durability of women shoes degrade with time even though I have worn them only once and not taken out of their respective boxes and packing for around 2-3 years.

    Do shoes remain the same in terms of quality and durability even after not taking them out for 2-3 years ?

    Waiting for your response

    Thank and Regards

    • Kintec

      February 25, 2019 at 1:51 pm Reply

      Hi there, thank you for your question!

      It won’t have the exact same durability and quality compared to new out of the box but they are still usable after 2-3 years. The more important part is to monitor how you feel in older shoes when compared to newer shoes. If older shoes are not comfortable, then they should not be worn. We hope this helps!

  • Mason Fenech

    February 25, 2019 at 9:43 pm Reply

    I tied my shoes to tight so now when I have water in the shower fall on it or any pressue in a certain area I get shooting pains doen to my toed

  • Madelyn Beltz

    March 20, 2019 at 8:03 am Reply

    If I have redness at the distal end of the metatarsal (where one would get a small bunion), does that mean I should get a wider shoe? or a more narrow shoe? Or does it depend?

  • Perpetual okereke

    May 10, 2019 at 8:27 am Reply

    Through out last year I wore tight shoes. On January this year I noticed that the second toe on my right leg is very stiff, swollen, hard, all the tissue around that side is dead and creamy in colour. So painful, can’t even walk properly anymore nor wear snickers anymore for 5 months now. Please what could be the solution? Thanks

    • Kintec Footwear + Orthotics

      June 17, 2019 at 4:26 pm Reply

      Hello, thank you for your question. We would suggest seeing a doctor or a certified pedorthist to determine the diagnosis of this problem as it seems more serious than a tight footwear issue. For now, yes avoid any footwear that is tight and causes you pain until you are able to get it examined by a professional.

  • Kristin Keirstead

    May 14, 2019 at 12:36 pm Reply

    My feet swelled around my shoes while travelling and I also had a scab on the top of my foot. Now my foot constantly feels numb on the top of my foot. What can I do to stop the area from feeling numb. This has been going on for about 6 days

    • Kintec Footwear + Orthotics

      June 17, 2019 at 4:20 pm Reply

      Hi Kristin, thank you for your question. We would suggest seeing a doctor or certified pedorthist if the pain is continuing. Your other options would be to try compression socks. This will help with numbness by promoting proper circulation.

  • Carolyn Keys

    May 27, 2019 at 12:35 pm Reply

    I got a new pair of golf shoes and I put my orthotics in them. I walked the golf course 9 holes. The left one fit perfectly but the right foot was too tight in the middle of my foot. Now I have pain in my foot when I walk. Do you think I have caused a stress fracture or tendonitis. I have been taking advil, icing and elevating. Any advice?

    • Kintec Footwear + Orthotics

      June 17, 2019 at 3:30 pm Reply

      Hi Carolyn, thank you for your question. We do not believe that you have caused a stress fracture or tendonitis. Your right foot is most likely bruised from the ill-fitting orthotic pressing in the middle of your foot as you walked the golf course. Icing and elevation is your best bet for relieving the pain. As far as your orthotic goes, if it is a custom orthotic go back and book a realignment as it is clearly not sitting where it should be on your right foot. If you purchased generic orthotics you should not wear them anymore, they are not formed to your foot properly and they are causing you pain. If you want well fitting orthotics with no pain, custom orthotics are going to be your best friend. They will form to all of your foots features and are great if you have two different shapes and sizes of feet which most of us do!

  • brianna smith

    June 5, 2019 at 5:58 am Reply

    hi, I bought some heel boots and they only just fit is it bad if I get pins and needles when I wear them. I can’t take them back and I don’t want to just not wear them because they were expensive.

    • Kintec Footwear + Orthotics

      June 17, 2019 at 3:17 pm Reply

      Hi Brianna, thank you for your question. We understand your struggle of wanting to wear the boots even though you are experiencing pins and needles. Pins and needles occurs when pressure such as your heeled boots cut off the blood supply to your nerves. Your boots may feel like the only just fit, but if you are experiencing pins and needles then they are ultimately too small. The best thing to do is to try and break them in or stretch them if possible.

  • Mary L. Mangus

    January 11, 2020 at 11:06 am Reply

    I want to know if my shoes are too tight around the toes area – my socks feel too stuffed around them and sometimes my toes and the undersole of my foot feels numb. Now my left thigh feels numb a few time during the day for about 1/2 hour
    each time. My shoes are also worn down some on the outside of each heel on the underpart. I am wearing a Dr. Scholl insert which seems to help but I am wondering if I should buy a shoe with more room in the toe area and different kinds of socks that won’t bunch up. Thanks for your help.

    • Michael Ryan

      March 29, 2020 at 10:16 pm Reply

      Hi Mary – Yes, I’d suggest that switching to both a thinner sock or footwear with greater room in the toe box. Our new Kintec Fitsystem will perform a 3D scan of your feet and help give insight on 10 different measures of your feet (rather than just length)! I would suggest calling us to arrange a One2One footwear assessment to help pick out the best pair of shoes. Thanks!

  • Max

    March 5, 2020 at 10:54 am Reply

    Hello, I recently bought a pair of Nike Pegasus 36 shoes. The sides are cloth-based, I noticed recently around 25% of the left side of my right foot is resting on the side of the shoe. When I try to move it back it does not stay fully on the shoe. It does not cause discomfort but I was wondering if it is a concern. Thank you.

    • Michael Ryan

      March 29, 2020 at 9:52 pm Reply

      Hi Max, thanks for your question. Nike running shoes in general tend to use more of the upper to wrap around the foot to give the feeling of arch support. What’s important is that the base of your foot should rest within the insole of the shoe and not on the edges, especially on the medial (or left side) of that right foot. Hope this helps. You may also find our new free phone consult service useful if you’d like to discuss this issue with one of our specialists here: Free Phone Consult. Thanks!

  • Tammy

    November 16, 2020 at 5:16 pm Reply

    My old medium width shoes were starting to squish my small toes on my right foot, so I bought a few pairs of wide width shoes to replace them. Now I have lots of room for my toes, but it feels like the outer middle area of my left foot is pressing into the side of my shoes. I’m confused at how a wider shoe could cause discomfort on my smaller foot. Is there any way to fix that or are there certain things I should look for in shoes?

    • Michael Ryan - Director of R&D

      November 23, 2020 at 12:14 pm Reply

      Hi Tammy – We certainly understand that there are LOTs of different things to look out for with shoe fitting. That is why we developed our FitScan system that measures thousands of data points and produces 10 separate measurements for your feet. To experience this personalized fitting journey, reserve your time at and follow to the links to a One-2-One appointment.

  • Emi

    February 23, 2021 at 2:17 am Reply

    Hi, i bought a pair of winter boots some months ago, and i wore them daily for some time… they were my number but i had to kind of close my toes so they didn’t hurt… After some time the whole area where the toes and the rest of foot meet hurted a lot…. i couldnt walk without feeling pain…. now i mostly wear trainers but still, time after time i feel pain, on both of my feet. Is it something serious?

    • Michelle - Customer Service

      October 23, 2021 at 9:07 am Reply

      Hi Emi, thank you for reaching out to us. It does sound like there’s some irritation from wearing shoes that are too small. Sizing can be different between brands so even if a shoe looks to be your regular shoe size, we recommend checking that there’s about half of a thumb-width of room at the end of your toe for a casual shoe.

      It may be worth speaking with your doctor or a Canadian Certified Pedorthist to discuss the foot pain you’re experiencing. They would be able to give you more information and hopefully tools to help address the pain in your toes. If you’re close to a Kintec, feel free to contact us for an appointment. Our locations can be found at

  • Robin Shute

    June 9, 2021 at 12:50 pm Reply

    I have had shoes fitting fine and suddenly they are feeling uncomfortable and maybe too small all of a sudden on one foot. It’s strange because they used to fit fine.

    I have had flat feet as skid but haven’t bothered me for years, I’m now 32 years old

    • Michelle - Customer Service

      October 23, 2021 at 9:22 am Reply

      Hi Robin. Feet can experience swelling throughout the day, so you could try being fit later in the afternoon and see if this helps prevent your shoes from feeling tight at times. If it’s an older pair that’s now feeling tight all the time, it may be time to be sized again. Changes in the arch of your foot can change how your shoes fit you.

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