Why Feet Get Bigger as We Get Older

Are Your Feet Still Growing?

Are you wondering why you are wearing bigger shoes as you get older? Do you think you feet are getting bigger?  Well, that is because they are getting bigger

Nearly 100% of us will need bigger shoes as we get older. Essentially what is happening is that over time our feet slowly flatten out. As they flatten, the arch lengthens and your feet get longer. In addition they splay out and your feet get wider.

Since your feet are getting bigger, you should be wearing larger shoes as you get older. If you are still wearing the same shoes you wore 10 years ago, we can pretty much guarantee that they are too small.

Besides Age, Why Else Do Feet Get Bigger?

1. Weight gain can cause feet to get bigger

If you are carrying extra weight, you are going to carry extra fat everywhere including around your feet with the result of larger feet.

2. Pregnancy can cause feet to get bigger

During pregnancy the same hormones that relax the ligaments of the birth canal also relax the ligaments in the rest of your body including the feet. Since the feet are carrying extra load during pregnancy due to normal weight  gain, the feet will often flatten leading to lengthening and widening of the feet.

How to Stop Your Feet from Getting Bigger

There may not be a way to completely stop your feet from getting bigger. But you may be able to slow the progression. Below are our best suggestions of what you can do to combat the flattening of the foot that occurs with aging, weight gain and pregnancy.

Please read this important disclosure about the products recommended in this article.

1. Use arch supports in your shoes

By using arch support to stop the flattening of the feet you may be able to stop or slow the splay that leads to feet getting bigger. The key is to get an arch support that conforms very close to the arch of foot. The closer it grabs your arch the better it will be at stopping your foot from flattening and splaying. Another way to look at this is to wear the highest arched orthotic you can tolerate.

Custom orthotics that are made to be total contact to the arch of your foot will provide the best support and protection. There are, however, some very good over-the-counter arch supports that will offer excellent protection.

Over-the-Counter Orthotics with the Best Arch Support
Best foot orthotic

For athletic shoes and walking shoes try the FootChair Plus Orthotic with adjustable arch height.  It has a great arch to help stop flattening of the foot plus pads that can be used to increase the arch for even more support. This may help stop the foot from getting bigger over time.

For smaller casual shoes and small athletic shoes (such as soccer cleats) try the smaller version – the FootChair 3/4 Length Orthotic.

For women’s dress shoes, the FootChair Slim Orthotic with Adjustable Arch Support is also is the one we recommend to our patients. This is by far the best OTC arch support we have found for women’s flats and dress shoes. It has a great arch support, a very slim profile and flexes to adapt to most heel heights.

Here is a list of all of our recommended prefabricated orthotics.

2. Wear arch support sandals or slippers anytime you are not wearing shoes

At times that you are not wearing shoes, for example when in your house, wear sandals or slippers with arch support. The is particularly important if Vionic flip flops with arch supportyou are on hard, flat surfaces such as hardwood floors.

These arch support sandals will help prevent flattening and splaying of your feet.

The sandal brand with the most supportive arch is currently Vionic. You can see a selection of Vionic sandals and slippers here.

The key to avoiding flattening of the arch is to wear arch support as much as you can – even when at home.

3. Custom orthotics offer more protection against feet getting bigger

If prefabricated orthotics are not providing enough support, we can prescribe use a custom orthotic. Custom orthotics will conform closer to the arch of the foot, so they do a better job stopping your feet from flattening out. In particular a “total-contact orthotic” that hugs the arch of the foot very close will help the the arch from flattening the foot from getting longer.

If you are in the Seattle area contact us for an appointment to find out if you are a good candidate for custom orthotics.

4. Wear stable shoes

Stable shoes that don’t flex too much will also help support your feet and prevent the flattening that leads to larger feet. Our list of recommended shoes can be subscribed to here.

5. Have your feet sized when you buy shoes

Go to specialty shoe stores with well-trained staff and believe the clerk when they tell you that you are no longer a size 8.

6. Lose weight to shrink your feet

Extra weight puts a lot of flattening force on the foot. If you can take off a few pounds you will decrease those harmful forces on your feet.

So our general recommendation is that it is good idea to wear arch supports or custom othotics to help prevent the foot from flattening over time. Stable shoes will also help. These suggestions will probably help slow or decrease the enlargement of your feet, but  regardless of what you do you will probably need a somewhat larger shoe as time progresses.

Most Important for Preventing Your Foot From Splaying and Getting Bigger

If you want to try to limit how much your foot splays out the most important things you can do are to ALWAYS wear arch support as described above and, if you are overweight, then lose some weight.

Dr. Larry Huppin
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77 thoughts on “Why Your Feet are Getting Bigger

  1. ugh my feet kept on getting bigger and I’m still 10 how can i shrink them? by not loosing weight and my shoe size is a 7 and I’m 39 kg

    1. i have the same issue i am 11 and i am a size 8-10 (depending on brand) i need help i can’t find good shoes

        1. You might have big feet, but at least your feet look proportional to your body. Any shoes that I wear make my ankles look super thin and it looks like im a cartoon or something. Once I got these really nice really expensive shoes and I had to return them because even though they fit perfectly, they made my feet look GIANT compared to my ankles and body.

      1. ImI the same my feet jus never takes a break from growth I’m 13 and imI wearing size 10 my dad’s 48 and he’s wearing size 13 what’s going on with me

        1. Same here I’ve been walking around my house bear foot and I just realized that’s one of the reasons why my feet are big, my feet grew super fast , I was in a size 9 one month now I’m in a 10 so I am going to start wearing croc around the house but I am also nervous because it is said that crocs don’t support your feet . I will update you all next month.

        2. yeah same here i can’t even find sandals for parties and every time it discourages me. what should i do ?? i get so many taunts for it

  2. Hi Stephanie – Try not to worry about your foot size. Usually feet end up just the right size for our height. Also girls feet usually stop growing pretty early so even if they look a little big to you now you’ll likely find that your feet will grow slower in the future and your body will catch up. You can also get an idea of how big your feet will likely be when you are done growing by looking at your mom and dad’s feet. There is no way to make them smaller or stop them from growing naturally, but I bet you’ll find that your foot size won’t bother you at all pretty soon and your feet will look perfectly normal to you.

  3. My feet have gone up a whole size every decade of my adult life. I was a 10 in my 20s and am now a 13W in my late fifties. And the 13s are getting tight. Finding decent, affordable, fashionable shoes is difficult. If I go up to a 14,I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m actually not on my feet very much. I’m not quite 5’7″ so the length of my feet is disturbing (especially when I see other women of my height and weight with much smaller feet).Have you ever heard of this much difference?

    1. I have. It’s not common but it does happen.

      One thing I am finding with my own patients is that it is now easier for women with larger than average feet to find nice shoes than it is for women with smaller than average feet. Manufacturers are starting to realize that we all get bigger feet over time and are making larger sizes.

    1. Your foot does not shorten over time except if you were to lose weight. As we gain weight feet flatten and get longer. If you lose weight they may then appear shorter. Shoe sizes, however, can vary from brand to brand and even between models in the same brand. You may simply be seeing a difference in the shoe sizing, not in the size of your foot.

  4. I am a male that wears a 13. I have been wearing a 12 for the last 4 years. What is the best arch support I should get to stop my feet from growing? I am 33 years old and I just started recently wearing a 13. I also have flat feet

    1. To limit collapse of the arch and the splaying of the foot that leads to a bigger shoe size you will want an arch support that conforms as close as possible to your foot. The most effective would be a “total contact custom orthotic“.

      For an over-the-counter arch support, again look for one that conforms close to the arch of your foot. You can find our list of recommended arch supports that fit that criteria here.

      I want to be clear that there is no evidence that orthotics and arch supports will stop the foot from flattening over time (which is what leads to the need for bigger shoes). But they will help prevent flattening while you are wearing them. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  5. My feet have grown 2 sizes in a few years. I also have plantar fascitis, heel spurs, & peripheral neuropathy. My feet even hurt when I’m lying down. Been in constant pain for two years. At a loss. .

      1. Before trying supplements it would be smart to see a neurologist to be tested to see if your B12 is low and is a contributing factor to your neuropathy. Because B12 helped one person that does not mean it will help another and if your B12 levels are normal than supplementation will not help you at all.

    1. Well, your feet are going to grow as big as they want and there is nothing you can do about it. On the good side, however, is that feet stop growing before you stop getting taller. So at age 14 your feet are probably not going to get much bigger. Also, I have plenty of footballers in my practice with very large feet. Even around size 16. You’ll be fine.

    1. Feet usually stop growing before you are finished getting taller. Girls usually don’t see much more foot growth after 14 and boys after 16. Otherwise you just have to wait it out. There is no way to slow it down or stop it.

  6. Hi I’m Mpilo from South Africa I’m 15 and I’m wearing size 11 how and my friends at school are laughing at me calling me ” Big Foot ” how do I stop making my feet grow please help

    1. Hi Mpilo,

      There is no way to stop your feet from growing but at 15 they have already done most of their growing. It’s very unlikely they will growing much more than a size or two at this point. Sizes 11, 12 or 13, by the way, are not all that big for adults. So in a couple years you’ll likely have pretty average sized feet.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

  7. Hi doctor,
    im 18 years old and ive recently changed from a size 10 to a 10.5, before the increase in size i was wearing a shoe that is 10.5 while iwas still a size 10 could that have contributed to the growth in my foot or does that have nothing to do with it ?

    1. That wouldn’t have anything to do with it. Your foot is just still growing a bit. Also keep in mind that a size 10 in one shoe may not be the same size as a 10 in another. You always want to focus on fit, not a specific size.

  8. Hi doctor,
    I am 13 and my shoe size is 10.I just have some questions.Does running make my feet bigger?What exercise can i do at home so that my feet can be smaller?Or what can i do with it.THANKSS

    1. No, running will not make your feet bigger. Also there are no exercises to make them smaller. But 10 is not that big. The average woman in the United States wears a size 8 wide shoe and there are a lot more women who wear size 10 than size 6. You are most likely just growing a bit faster than other kids your age. If your parents have fairly average sized feet then your feet are likely pretty close to being done growing. Often girls feet don’t grow much past age 13.Many of your classmates will continue to grow for a few more years. So in the long run you will likely just have very slightly bigger than average feet. There is no way to stop feet from growing, but don’t worry. Your feet really are not that big, they are just likely going to finish growing sooner than your friends.

      1. How can I make my feet slim down, I am 12 and my foot length is around 4-6 inches, besides I am a size 8 in shoes 10 in sandals is there a way to make my feet thinner and smaller?

  9. hi,I am 14 and my shoe size is 10.Every girls in my class has very small feet and i seem to have the biggest.Its very hard for me to buy good shoes cause many good shoes only have shoe size of 5 and 6,I am so scared that i have no shoes to wear in the future about ten to twenty years later cause my feet are growing very fast.Can you tell me how to stop my feet from growing and how to make my feet smaller.Lots of thanksss….

    1. Hi Karen. The average woman in the United States wears a size 8 wide shoe and there are a lot more women who wear size 10 than size 6. So you will have no trouble finding great shoes to wear. You are most likely just growing a bit faster than your classmates. If your parents have fairly average sized feet then you are probably either done growing or close to it. Many of your classmates will continue to grow for a few more years. So in the long run you will likely just have very slightly bigger than average feet. There is no way to stop feet from growing, but don’t worry. Your feet really are not that big, they are just likely going to finish growing sooner than your friends.

  10. Hi im almost 11 and my feet are 7 at size and i have flat feet i know that if my feet aren’t flat anymore my feet will get smaller but are there exercises to cure flat feet??

  11. Hii! I am 14 and my foot size is 11 and they are not stoping I am scared that where will it end.Plzzz help me if there is any that i can do to stop my feet from growing.

  12. hi i’m 13 and my shoe size is 10 1/2 to 11 1/2, i’m about 150 pounds and 5’8. is this normal. i’m really worried about my future shoe size. REALLY WORRIED. PLZ REPLY

    1. That is a pretty average shoe size for your height and weight. Just a little larger than average. You can expect a little more growth in your feet but not a lot. By 13 feet are almost fully grown. So don’t worry.

      1. hi dr my name is venessa ive been depressed all my life of my big feet and disguting long finger toes im 41yrs 167tall and 85 kilos ive have gained weight ,so i should be about 68 kilos.so from size 10 before to 11.5 now and wider my feet seem to be getting bigger i think its from weight gain and bouion op i done 2007 and having two childern age 21yr old and 9yr
        old my 21yr daughter has 9 shoe size smaller than me how is that and want to know of toe shorting surgery. I hate shoe shopping i get embaressed and see other my height with smaller size i cringe and cry when buying shoes am i a freak or just over thinking my parnter doesnt care but i do cause its me who wears boxy shoe size and his size is mens 7 and taller than me he is 170 but shorter legs he has but i do have long legs anyway can toe surgery fix it
        . regards venessa

        1. I wear a size men’s 14 not a size women’s 11.5 and I am 29. Not only that, but my feet seem to have grown by 4 sizes in one year.

  13. Hi there i am 11 and my feet size is 8 and I’m worried about it can you plz tell me if i can do something in the future maybe a surgery to make a smaller size. Thank you

  14. im 14 with a size 12 feet. im 5’10 220lbs. im afraid my feet will still grow. its hard for me to buy shoes because im from malaysia. im already considered a giant there.how can i stop my feet from growing.

  15. Honestly I hate it, my sister is 22 years old and she’s size 6… my other sister is 15 and size 4…. I’m 13 and size 9…
    In the summer of 2016, I was a size 7 and by the summer of 2017 I am size 9…
    Like wtf.

  16. Hi.I am Mbali from South Africa. I am 11 and a size 6.All my friends have smaller feet and sometimes I get too embarrassed to show them in public. What can I do!

  17. Im a 13 year old male and have size about 12/12.5 are my feet gonna still grow to somewhere near size 13/13.5. Ion want no big size 13 feet.

      1. i am 13 too but i am long i look very bigger then my age my height is almost 46 cm . can you please tell me what’s an average foot size for this age and height

  18. I’m 13 and i already wear an 9-10 in women and a 8-9 in men. Is there a way I can stop my feet from growing without buying arched shoes?

  19. I am fifteen years old boy . Size of my feet is 12 and my weight is 42 kg what can i do
    Please help me
    My neighbours always try to expose me about my feet’s size

  20. I’m 46 and my feet grew 1 full size in 10 months. In the past month, I’ve developed pain along my instep. At first it was just on my left foot and I thought maybe I wasn’t stretching enough after working out (running, cycling, elliptical) so I stretched more focusing on my calves and feet. It didn’t help. I tried RICE (rest, ice, compression & elevation). It didn’t help. I tried a heating pad. No help. But some days there is no pain at all. I wear Superfeet inserts in my sneakers and shoes. I’m afraid to run and make things worse. Is there anything I can do to help with the pain?

  21. Hello, I’ve had only my left foot change, i.e. the toe next to the big toe has grown at least half an inch over the last year. I’ve had 2 kids but 12 and 5 years ago, so hormones due to pregnancy should not be the reason. Is it possible that it happened because I had surgery of the right knee and the left foot had to carry more weight? I am 39 btw. Thank you!

  22. It says to wear arch support sandals or slippers if I’m not wearing shoes. Should I wear them even if I’m not walking around?

  23. Thank you for taking the time to make this post. But I’m wondering what evidence you have for your advice about preventing feet from getting bigger. I ask because I haven’t found any other sources giving this advice, nor have I found mention of it in scientific literature. And I’ve heard that orthotics are over-used.

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