I had a baby this past spring, and something odd happened when I made my postpartum return to running: the outside of both my feet started hurting. One side was way worse than the other, so I assumed I’d done too much, too soon and got injured. But the root of the problem was even more basic than that – my shoes didn’t fit.
I’d been wearing Brooks Adrenalines for 10 years, ever since I was first fitted for my first real pair of shoes at a running store (here’s why it’s important to get a professional shoe fitting). I replaced my Adrenalines every four months like clockwork. I’ve been really lucky never to have had any major running injuries, so I never saw a reason to try new shoes. I subscribed to the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mindset.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, I realized my beloved Adrenalines may be the culprit when I put on a pair of New Balance trainers that I wear to the gym. The pain wasn’t nearly as bad when wearing the New Balance pair, so I started thinking maybe my running shoes were the cause of the discomfort.
I made the trek to my local running store for a professional shoe fitting, and I’m so glad that I did. I learned that I was wearing the wrong size! The running shoe specialist said I needed to go up a half to a full size larger than what I was currently wearing.
I didn’t get it. I thought foot size was something that stayed constant through adulthood – I’ve worn the same shoe size since seventh grade. But I thought wrong.
It turns out several factors can change foot size, including:
- Pregnancy: It’s not uncommon for women’s feet to grow during pregnancy. In fact, most women’s feet get permanently wider and/or longer with each pregnancy. This is what happened in my case. Pregnancy also causes your feet to change shape. Many women lose arch height and develop flat feet after pregnancy.
- Weight changes: A significant weight gain or loss may cause your feet to get larger or small, respectively, in length and/ or width.
- Illness: If you have nerve damage from diabetes or another illness, the bones in your feet could crumble, resulting in smaller feet.
I tried on Brooks Adrenalines in a bigger size – the shoe specialist still suggested a supportive shoe for my needs – but they still felt off. I tried a bunch of different brands and models and ended up with the Brooks Ravennas. They have a larger toe box and just feel much more comfortable on me than the Adrenalines. And, most importantly, I’ve had zero pain when running since switching shoes.
I guess my feet grew in length and width during my most recent pregnancy. I’m not thrilled about that, but I’m glad I figured out what was causing the pain. If I ever have another baby or my weight changes significantly, you better believe getting re-fitted for running shoes will be a top priority!
Written by Jen Matz.