Many running shoes, in order to lace branded gadgetry into them and deliver a more satisfying performance, can get wide and bulky. This can be a frustration for those with narrow feet who find that these sports sneakers are too wide for them.
Whilst more uncommon than trouble with shoes being overtight, it’s a complaint from women that certain running shoes are often too wide for their narrower feet.
Thankfully, there are specific market options for those of us with narrow feet that take these considerations into account more than the average running sneaker does.
Since narrow feet are often genetic or the result of unchangeable circumstances, specially designed shoes must cater to this rather than focusing on mitigating biomechanical foot problems that feet can develop over time.
In this review we’ll weigh up our market options for the best running shoes for feet that are narrow.
Included is a buyers’ guide which will also help you learn not just what makes a good running shoe in general but what makes the best shoes with narrow interiors, because succeeding at both is no small feat.
In a hurry – Our top pick is the Brooks Ghost 12
In a hurry? No worries, our top pick is right here for those of you who want to hit the road as soon as possible.
Our pick is the Brooks Ghost 12. It comes highly recommended as not only a decent shoe but a great option for those who seek a narrower fit.
Coming into the market boasting of branded cushioning mechanics and a seamless 3D construction, user reviews from the bigfoot among us complain about the narrow midsole, so this could be the perfect shoe for your narrow feet!
- Trademarked BioMoGo DNA and DNA LOFT for added cushioning and underfoot softness.
- Constructed with 3D print for a stretching, seamless fit, also has abreathable mesh.
- Segmented toe spring pad for smooth biomechanical transition from heel strike to toe-off when running.
Brooks Ghost 12
- THIS SHOE IS FOR: Neutral runners looking for a lightweight shoe and a smooth ride without sacrificing cushioning. Whether you’re a Ghost loyalist or are lacing one up for the first time, you’ll find plenty to like.
- SUPPORT AND CUSHION: The neutral support type provides high energizing cushioning. Ideal for road running, cross training, the gym or wherever you might want to take them! Predecessor: Ghost 11
- BALANCED, SOFT CUSHIONING: BioMoGo DNA and DNA LOFT cushioning work together to provide a just-right softness underfoot without losing responsiveness and durability - yet it feels lighter than ever.
- SMOOTH, STABLE RIDE: No matter how your foot lands, our Segmented Crash Pad - an integrated system of shock absorbers - will cushion every step and stride for smooth heel-to-toe transitions.
- SOFT, SECURE, FIT: The newly engineered mesh and 3D Fit Print practically disappears on your foot with strategically placed stretch and structure.
When it comes to the top choice for narrow feet, the Brooks Ghost 12 is the new product name on the street. As the name suggests, the Ghost is a lightweight shoe which offers a smooth-running ethereal glide thanks to its segmented toe spring crash pad that gives added bounce, getting you through the transition from heel strike to toe-off that much easier.
It’s available in a wide variety of colors for both men and women, and its standard 12mm offset drop makes it handy for conventional runners.
It runs small and snug, being one of the smaller sneakers that Brooks have made, and so seems the perfect option for a premium narrow running shoe from an established sports shoe brand.
If you’re still on the fence, remember your own complaints about how traditional running shoes are too wide?
A lot of the negative reviews of this product often come from those with wider feet complaining that the midsole is too narrow for them, so now the shoe can be on the other foot if this is the product for you.
- Trademarked BioMoGo DNA and DNA LOFT for added cushioning softness.
- 3D print upper is breathable and seamless.
- Made to be lightweight.
- Available in a wide variety of color schemes.
- 3D print upper isn’t the most durable, mainly at the heel collar.
- Narrow toe box.
Adidas Ultraboost 19
- New and Updated Primeknit 360 - Wraps the foot in adaptive support and ultralight comfort.
- Supportive Cage - Locks down the midfoot for reduced in-shoe slippage.
- Updated 3D Heel Frame - Offers the perfect mix of adaptability and support.
- New Optimised Boost Midsole - Delivers 20% more responsiveness and cushioning compared to the original Ultra Boost.
- New Tuned Torsion Spring - Provides enhances support on landing and a snappy transition.
Coming from such a ubiquitous brand as Adidas, the Ultraboost are heavily cushioned, neutral running shoes whose regular fit is narrow enough for some with narrow feet despite not having a specific narrow fit option.
If this shoe is for you, you can expect a durable PrimeKnit 360 upper and medial dual-density boost cushions to make your run more stable. Speaking of stability, these sneakers also have midsole torsion springs to support the foot during its movement cycle of heel to toe, allowing for smooth and confident strides.
The offset drop for these is 10mm, making them ideal for those prone to supination or other issues that high arches can cause.
All its cushioning and stability mechanics make for a heavier, bulkier shoe and so this is something to consider when making a purchase. If you’re fine with that, this could be the option for you.
- Adidas PrimeKnit 360 upper for responsive engineered fit.
- Medial dual-density boost cushioning to increase stability.
- Midsole torsion spring to add a bridge of support to your foot between heel and toe strikes.
- 10mm offset for those with high arches.
- No narrow fit specifically, regular fit can be narrow enough.
- Rather heavy.
Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v9
- New Engineered 2 Layer Jacquard Mesh - Provides ventilation which keeps the feet feeling cool and dry.
- No-Sew Material - Reduces the risk of irritation and discomfort.
- Plush Collar - For a comfortable fit.
- Ortholite Premium Insole - Offers step in comfort for a plush feel.
- International products have separate terms, are sold from abroad and may differ from local products, including fit, age ratings, and language of product, labeling or instructions.
The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 version 9 is a shoe that comes in a narrow fit for both men and women. With the narrow sneaker market full of women-only options, it makes for a refreshing change.
The shoe also has a reduced heel drop of 8mm (rather than the common 12mm) due to it being made as a neutral shoe for longer running sessions, and so designed to minimize the strain on the feet and legs of its wearer.
These features see it often compared favorably with the Adidas Ultraboosts at #2.
Its Fresh Foam insole is designed to be responsive to your feet, imprinting their shape into them to meet your dimensions for maximum comfort. Their long-use design specifications make them the ideal sneaker for recovering from injury, for jobs that require a lot of standing around and, obviously, for comfortable running.
The deep cushioning in these shoes is also lauded, the NB Fresh Foam having achieved a satisfying middle ground between comfort and stability that many sneakers aspire to.
- Specifically designed for longer running, durable.
- Mesh designed to stretch and adapt to your feet.
- Available in several widths, including narrow, for males and females.
- Competitively priced in this list.
- Possibility of back ankle collar lip biting in.
Saucony Omni 14
- Highly cushioned running shoe designed for moderate stability and everyday training
- 8mm heel-to-toe drop
- ISO fit upper
- Shock-absorbing SRC Crash Pad
- PWRGRID+ improved performance cushioning
The Omni 14 from Saucony is a stability shoe with an 8mm offset to support the midsole when running, for those who strike the ground somewhere in between the forefoot and the heel and so need extra reinforcement in that area.
Lightweight for the ample cushioning and support you can get with it, the Omni can look bulky, unwieldy even, but its looks are deceiving. This is a great shoe for overpronators with average height arches.
PWRGRID shock absorption technology features in these sneakers to, well, reduce shock. Kinetic shock from the impact of your strides, not the other kind of shock, though the ample cushioning these comfortable shoes offer would probably ground you well.
Whilst the woman’s version comes in smaller sizes than the men’s, complaints about a tighter toe box in the men’s version could make this a nicer fit for narrow feet.
- PWRGRID shock absorption technology.
- Versatile, able to complete short and long runs comfortably.
- Lower offset drop (8mm) to aid those who are more balanced runners
- Ideal for motion control running.
- The outsoles aren’t as durable as other market options.
- Only narrow option for women.
ASICS Gel-Cumulus 21
- DuraSponge Outsole - A blown AHAR rubber compound for enhanced cushioning and durability in the forefoot.
- I.G.S (Impact Guidance System) Technology - ASICS design philosophy that employs linked componentry to enhance the foot's natural gait from heel strike to toe-off.
- Ortholite Sockliner - Moisture management (Ortholite is a registered trademark of ATP Manufacturing LLC).
- SpevaFoam 45 Lasting - Employs 45 degree full length SpevaFoam 45 lasting material for a soft platform feel and improved comfort.
- FlyteFoam Propel Technology - ASICS energetic foam formulation that provides supreme bounce thanks to a unique elastomer compound.
The Gel-Cumulus 21’s Impact Guidance System and Guidance Trusstic both work with your feet’s natural gait to improve the control your feet have when inside the shoes. Gel pads at the main impact points, the heel and forefoot, give the Cumulus 21 the hallmark limb stress relief of their GEL range of sneakers.
Its interior also has FLYTEFOAM Propel tech to get extra energy out of every step and includes a sock liner that molds to the shape of your foot and wicks away moisture.
It’s only available in small, narrower fits for the female variants but ASICS are known to have tighter interior spacing than other brands like Saucony and Brooks.
So, a man with narrow feet could potentially find a satisfying fit with medium sizes, but this would dependent on other factors such as foot length and general size. If you have experience with ASICS and wish to take the risk, these are an option.
- Impact Guidance System (I.G.S) to compliment the foot’s natural gait and give you more control.
- Gel cushions at the forefoot and heel lessen impact forces, improve comfort.
- Well cushioned and provides ample arch support.
- Wide color variety.
- Cramped toe box may be a problem.
- Narrow option for women variant only.
What to look for in a narrow running shoe
The same considerations for a narrow running shoe are largely the same for running shoes in general, just at a higher standard to fit the particular needs of your feet.
The upper fabric above your foot should be flexible or a perfect fit since you’re opting to wear sneakers that will be tighter at the upper. Breathability is a plus for sneaker uppers, too.
Shoes that are too big can cause problems with the biomechanics of your running since the slippage of your foot inside the shoe will be worsened and make for unsure and inconsistent strides. Your heel should fit into the heel box and not slip around inside.
Narrow ankles can make finding the perfect ankle fit a pain as this is the part of the foot most held still when running in shoes. Your ankles shouldn’t get rubbed raw against the back of the sneakers, so look for ankle collars that are well padded or have some give in them to fit to your feet when broken in.
The opposite applies for the toe box. You want the box to be roomy enough to accommodate your toes and the movements they’ll make during heavy use without getting chafed by the shoe.
Since your feet are narrower, extra consideration should be given to the midsole padding and the saddle that reinforces your arches since you may put more pressure between your forefoot and heel when running.
Once again, you’re looking to not slip around inside the shoe, and encourage the natural movement of your arches.
The ergonomic fit of the insole should also be factored into your decision. If you’re an average runner, the standard 12mm heel to toe drop will do just fine. Lower drop options included in some of the market options above are more appropriate for balanced midsole or forefoot runners.
This is because the differences in the shape of their feet can alter their biomechanical movements during their gait, and so alternate running methods can require a variety of insole elevations.
Different heel to toe drops are also handy for all kinds of foot arches, better distributing pressure on the feet and reducing the impact forces acting on them and on your legs in general, particularly the knees.
Breaking in narrow running shoes
Breaking in new shoes to get that perfect fit is an important rite of passage for most new shoes, but it becomes more crucial with running shoes intended for your narrow feet. Getting a fit for the particular needs your feet require is more likely to involve breaking in the shoes in some way.
Since your feet are narrow, you’ll need to take extra considerations to what exactly you should be breaking in, the ankle and toe boxes being the two likely problem areas in shoes many would consider small and tight but are just right for you.
There are a few methods to do this as comfortable and easy as possible. Frequent wearing of the shoes for short periods every day is obviously the best way to start. Since you’re breaking in running shoes, it’s advisable to just wear them around your house at first since running in tight shoes can do a number on your feet.
When breaking in your running shoes, you need to walk before you can run.
Gradually aim to walk longer in them over a week, and when you start running take it easy by running a small distance and, if/when the shoes get uncomfortable, completing your run in old or spare shoes.
Over time, which can vary depending on how well the sneakers fit in the first place, they should get more comfortable and better suited for their purpose.
How do I know I have the right fit?
The same way everyone does! The sneaker should hug the feet at the sides and back, but have enough flexibility and ample room for natural toe movement nearer to the front. You should be able to tap your toes up and down inside the shoe without coming into resistance but whilst having enough cushioning to comfortably support your feet.
You will generally feel when a shoe doesn’t fit before even realizing why, its instinctual to know when you’re on comfortable footing or not.
It’s best to have your feet checked in-store if you’re unsure which width would suit them. That’s feet, plural, because there can be minor variations in pairs of feet that won’t feel so minor when you’re wearing an ill fitted left shoe.
Many stores use something known as a Brannock device in order to gauge which shoe size and width will be most compatible with your feet, taking into account factors such as heel to ball measurements since toe length can vary between people and produce unreliable results for your toe box.
Can shoe width vary with brands?
Unfortunately they can. Whilst there are generalized rubrics for size and width of most clothing, you can’t escape certain brands having their own in-house sizing that is not representative of what you’d expect from a given size.
A relevant example would be Nike and ASICS sneakers generally having tighter widths than same size sneakers of other brands, though these retain wider, comfortable toe boxes. The knitted uppers of Adidas shoes also make them wear more snugly than other synthetic upper sneakers on the market, and so have a reputation for having a narrower fit in running circles.
This is why it’s not a bad idea to check the actual, by-the-numbers measurements of certain aspects of the sneaker you’re wary of. Since the advent of online markets, many product listings should have some extra information to help you make a decision.
How common are narrow running shoes?
When it comes to running shoes, wider fits are more common for optimum comfort. The smarter brands will offer narrow options though these will tend to be geared towards smaller female feet. Since narrow feet are uncommon compared to other special conditions running shoes cater to, the variety of types and colors on the market are limited.
When shopping for narrow fitted sneakers, women’s narrow fit will typically be the 2A width size whilst the men’s variant should be classified as B.
Can lacing techniques make shoes more compatible with narrow feet?
With the myriad of ways to tie your shoes, there are methods of lacing that can make sneakers fit more snugly. A method to increase the snugness at your heel, probably the most important area for a better, non-slipping fit, is to first begin as if lacing your shoes in the standard way. Thread the right side lace up through the top eyelet of that same side to create a loop. Do this for the left side too.
Then, when crossing the laces, put them through each others’ loops. To finish, pull toward the heel and then up at yourself to make them tight. From here you can tie them the way you usually do, but now they have the extra tightness to fit your feet.
Be aware, however, that this is a short-term solution and won’t be as well fitted as a narrow running shoe such as those in the selection above.