Best Shoes and Solutions for Low-Volume Feet

Find the Right Fit When Your Feet are Low-Volume

Do your feet seem to swim in shoes, no matter what model you choose? Some people have low volume feet. This can be a challenge for athletic shoes, which often come only in a single average width. This problem is distinct from simply having a narrow foot, it means a foot that takes up less space in the shoe in more than one dimension.

The Problem with Finding Shoes for Low Volume Feet

Athletic Shoes with Narrow Feet
Athletic Shoes with Narrow Feet. Westend61/Creative RF/Getty Images

Walkers and runners with low volume feet may need a shoe that is both narrow and also has less depth. A low-volume foot has less of an arch and a shallower instep. Your foot takes up less space in the shoe than the typical shoe is designed for.

Shoes with too much room can lead to blisters and black toenails. Your foot has more rooms to slide around within a shoe. That can lead to friction, which is the chief cause of blisters. It can also cause trauma to your toenails, resulting in black toenails, especially on longer walkers and runs.

Athletic shoe brands that offer shoes in narrow widths include New Balance, Brooks, Mizuno, and Saucony. Shoe expert Dave Sobolik gave advice on a couple of specific models.

Style: Lightweight Trainer. The Asics Gel DS Trainer is a lightweight running shoe that is excellent for those who want speed and flexibility. It is a nice low-profile shoe with a more narrow and low volume fit. It has been around for 25 years and is still a favorite. It is designed for no more than mild to moderate pronation, so it is best for people with a neutral gait.

Style: Moderate Stability. The Mizuno Inspire gives a more narrow fit through the mid-foot back to the heel. It tends to fit a lower volume foot better than most other stability shoes in that moderate stability category. Another plus is that is is vegan - it contains no animal products. It's available in a variety of color combinations to fit your style.

Shoelacing Technique for a Narrow Foot
Shoelacing Technique for a Narrow Foot. Wendy Bumgardner ©

You can also ensure a better shoe fit for a narrow and low-volume foot by using a lace lock lacing technique on your shoes. To do this, unlace your shoes down to the second set of lace holes. Make bunny ears with the laces and pass the opposite lace through the loop. Then continue lacing crisscross as usual. This will allow you to draw the laces together better for a good fit.

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Balega Enduro Socks
Balega Enduro Socks. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Wearing thicker socks can help if you still can't find shoes that give you a good fit. You still want to wear socks that have excellent moisture-wicking properties. Don't simply pick up thick cotton socks, as cotton holds moisture next to the skin and that can result in softening the skin and leaving it more prone to blisters on long walks and runs. Look for socks such as the Thorlo brand that have a variety of designs with different thicknesses of cushioning.

You can try the old hiking trick of wearing an inner sweat-wicking sock and an outer wool sock or thicker sweat-wicking sock.

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Shopping for Athletic Shoes
Shopping for Athletic Shoes. webphotographeer/E+/Getty Images

Your feet are probably nothing stranger than your local serious running shoe store staff have seen before. In fact, they keep up on new shoe designs and modifications to old favorites so they can steer you to the right shoes.

While you may want to shop online, nothing beats having your feet measured and shoes fitted by staff who want you to be in the right shoe. One example of a mistake you can make is choosing a minimalist shoe that is designed to be worn without a sock. But it may not have enough structure or cushioning. That's where you need the advice of the shoe store staff to get the right shoes rather than wasting your money on ones that won't work well for you.

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