How Should Sandals Fit?

Sandals are a great style of footwear to have on when you want your feet to breathe during a hot summer day. However, just like with any other type of shoe, if they are not the right size for your feet, they can be downright uncomfortable and could even put you at risk of painful foot conditions such as Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and bunions, to mention a few. Finding sandals that fit you comfortably is not as straightforward as most people tend to assume, and it is quite possible to buy the wrong size even if you know your exact shoe size. Read on to find out how your sandals should fit.

How should sandals fit? When you put on a sandal, a bit of space should be left between the edge of the sandal sole and your foot so that your toes are not hanging out and banging against surfaces. The straps of the sandal should not feel uncomfortably tight against your skin when you wear them regardless of the material they are made of.

If your sandals feature a toe post, ensure that the thong-style straps don’t fit too closely between against your toes. If the sandal features a closed cup, your heel should stay in place when you wear it instead of slipping around or experiencing uncomfortable pinching. Most people have asymmetrical feet, so you should fit your sandal to the larger foot. To find the right fit of sandals, ensure that you take measurements of your fit before making a purchase, and also go through the sizing chart that may be provided

No matter the style, your sandals should always feel comfortable on your feet. One of the main aspects that determine comfort is the fit – a sandal should fit your feet snugly without being too tight or too wide.

Determining how your sandals should fit

  • There should be some space left at the front when you wear them – When you put on the sandals, the footbed should comfortably accommodate your whole foot, which means that your toes should not hang out. Ensure that there is a bit of space between the foot (a minimum of half an inch) and the edge of the footbed/sole. This will keep your toes safe and reduce the risk of accidentally stubbing your toes against furniture and potentially sustaining injuries as a result.
  • Ensure that they don’t move around – When you try on your sandals, your feet mustn’t end up sliding around as a result of them too big. Due to how some styles of sandals are constructed (such as open back varieties), it is understandable that your foot will move around in them a bit, but this shouldn’t be excessive to the point that it is a struggle to keep them on your feet.
  • How the straps should fit – When you put on a sandal that features a strappy upper, ensure that it covers the small toe, or it should end where the small toe’s joint begins. This will keep the toe from sticking out of the sandal unnaturally.

For sandal designs such as slides, the band should provide enough support to ensure that your foot stays in the sandal as you are walking so that you don’t have to clench your toes to ensure they are secure.

If the sandal features a back strap, it should fit into the curve behind the heel snugly so that it does not slip off as you walk. For sandals that feature a thong-style design, the thong should not be too short or too long – it should offer some level of stability in the forefoot and rest snugly slightly above and between your toes.

  • Consider the size of your feet – Like with other parts of the body that come in twos, your feet are likely to have a degree of asymmetry to them, which means that one of them will be slightly larger or smaller than the other. As a result, you should always aim to accommodate the larger foot when trying to determine how sandals should fit.
  • The heel of the sandal – For sandals that feature a closed back, ensure that your heel fits snugly into the heel cup. Additionally, the lip of the counter shouldn’t painfully bite into your ankles. To test how comfortable you will be, try sticking your forefinger between the close back and your heel. If you find that you can barely insert your finger into the closed back, then the fit of the sandal is likely off and you will have to go up a size. On the other hand, if you find that your finger easily slips into the closed back with some space to space, then you will want to go down half a size.
  • The width of the sandals – The width of the footbed is an important consideration when trying to determine how your sandals should fit. When you put them on, ensure that the ball of your foot fits snugly in the widest part of the sandal. Some designs of sandals are unreasonably narrow at this point, so ensure that you pay attention to how the ball of your foot feels when it sits on this area of the sandal.

Finding the ideal fit of sandals

Here are some tips on how you can find a pair of sandals that fit you

  • Take measurements of your feet – Contrary to popular belief, foot size does not remain the same even in adults. Therefore, you must measure your feet before you purchase a new pair of sandals to determine your foot size in case it has changed. To take measurements of your feet, you will need paper, a ruler, pencil, and tape.
  • Start by taping the paper on a smooth floor.
  • Step on the paper, starting with one foot.
  • With the pencil, make a clear mark behind your heel and in front of the big toe
  • Take your foot off the paper so that you can use your ruler to measure the distance between the two marks you made and write down the results.
  • Repeat this procedure for your other feet as well.
  • If you notice a difference in the size of your feet, go with the measurement of the bigger foot.
  • Go through the sizing chart – You may have your measurements down, but then you order your sandals and they simply don’t fit. This tends to happen because the sizes of sandals typically differ from one brand to another, plus their design will also play a role in how they fit. To overcome this kind of disappointment, ensure that you make your purchase from a website that provides you with a sizing chart or online guide that you can use to compare sizes and find the ideal one for you. Keep in mind that sizing charts are different for men and women, and there is also usually a difference from one country to another, so ensure that you use the right guide.
  • Read reviews posted by other customers – Reading the reviews that have been posted by verified customers about the sandals you intend to purchase is an important cautionary step that you should consider taking. Look for reviews specifically concerning the fit of the sandals to determine if they tend to run small or big even with the use of a sizing chart. This will help you determine if you need to make any adjustments to your sizing and consequently save you from buying ill-fitting sandals.
  • The importance of seasonality – Sandals are primarily worn when the weather is warm, which means that they are a staple during the summer rather than the winter. As a result of the summer heat, you might notice that your feet are slightly more swollen especially at the end of the day where you mostly walked or stood. Remember to consider this and make the necessary adjustments.

How to break in your sandals

Sometimes you may have bought the right size sandals, but the fit may still feel a bit off. In such a case, it might be because they are still new and they are yet to mold to the shape of your feet. To make them more comfortable, you will need to take the time to break them in. Here are some techniques that you can use to break in your sandals:

  • Wear them around your home – Before you wear your sandals outdoors, put them on and walk around in your house first. Stand in them or do your chores for about half an hour or for as long as you can. Keep doing this for the next few days until your feet are comfortable enough in them. When you have your sandals on, flex your feet as much as possible, or even wear a pair of thick socks under them to help stretch the straps further. This technique requires consistency and a lot of patience, but once you successfully break in your sandals, they will fit as they should and you won’t have to worry about being uncomfortable.
  • Stuff your sandals with newspaper – Another way you can break in your sandals is by inserting wads of wet newspaper under the upper. For this to work, all you need is several sheets of newspaper and a bowl of water. Dip the newspaper in the water and ensure that the ink does not run. You can then stuff as many sheets as possible under the straps of each sandal. This technique works because wet newspaper typically expands as it dries, which will, in turn, cause the straps to slightly expand as well. Let the newspaper dry overnight. Alternatively, you can insert an empty water bottle or a standard tennis ball under the strap for the same effect.
  • Blast them using a hairdryer – For this stretching technique, wear a pair of thick socks under your sandals. Once you have both the socks and sandals on, proceed to blast your sandals with a hairdryer on a high heat setting for a maximum of two minutes. Move your feet around in the sandals as you do this to speed up the stretching process. Ensure that you don’t focus the hairdryer on one particular spot of the sandal for too long to avoid heat damage. After the two minutes have elapsed, allow the sandals to cool while they are still on your feet so that they maintain their newly stretched form. Repeat this process as needed.
  • Put them in the freezer – If you are not too keen on using the hairdryer technique, opt to put your sandals in the freezer instead to stretch them. Fill two Ziploc bags that are sizeable enough to exert pressure on the sandal straps with water up to the halfway mark. Seal the bags tightly and then insert each one under the straps of each sandal. Put the sandals in a bigger Ziploc bag for extra protection and secure it as well before placing it in the freezer. Leave them for a few hours or until the water freezes. This technique is effective because water tends to expand as it freezes, subsequently exerting pressure on the sandal straps and stretching them. Take the sandals out of the freezer once enough time has elapsed and let them cool down before attempting to put them on.
  • Use a stretching spray – Another way you can stretch your sandals and effectively break them in is by spraying them with a stretching spray. Simply follow the instructions that may be provided on the package to ensure that you don’t use too little or too much. This technique requires that you combine it with another stretching technique like putting on the sandals and walking around in them at home to work.
  • Take them to a cobbler – If by any chance you try all the suggested techniques and they fail to work, consider taking your sandals to a professional cobbler to break them in for you. A qualified cobbler should be able to stretch them as needed without tampering with the construction.

Final thoughts

Sandals should fit you without causing any discomfort or issues with balance. Therefore when trying on sandals, ensure that your toes don’t hang out, your straps fit over your feet comfortably, your feet don’t move around excessively, and the footbed is adequately wide.

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