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Why is One Foot Bigger Than the Other? The Truth Behind Unequal Feet Sizes

8 Minute Read
Modern Foot & Ankle
February 15, 2024

Have you ever wondered, “is one foot bigger than the other?” Unequal foot sizes are more common than you might think, and they can have various causes and implications.

In this blog post, we will explore the prevalence of differently sized feet, the potential health implications, and how to navigate footwear with unequal feet sizes.

We will also discuss podiatry solutions that can help individuals with different-sized feet. So, let’s begin our journey into the world of unequal feet sizes and uncover the truth behind this fascinating phenomenon.

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The Prevalence of Differently Sized Feet

A woman measuring the length of her left foot

Did you know that more than half of adults have one foot larger or wider than the other? This is not an anomaly but a widespread occurrence that can be attributed to genetics, development, and dominant side effects.

The left foot is commonly larger than the right foot, which can be explained by the theory that the right side of the body is dominant, causing the left foot to be exercised more and subsequently grow stronger and larger in size.

Injuries, playing sports with uneven usage of feet, and foot point direction can also contribute to differently sized feet. While this discrepancy in foot size usually doesn’t affect balance or posture, buying shoes that accommodate the size difference can prevent foot problems.

The Role of Genetics and Development

Genetics play a significant role in determining foot size, as it influences the shape and size of the foot, including cases where a larger left foot is observed.

However, it’s important to note that other factors, such as nutrition, health, and external factors like shoe-wearing habits, can also affect foot size. The primary causes of size discrepancies in feet may include:

  • Overuse of one foot while participating in athletics
  • Wearing shoes that are too small or too large
  • Excess weight gain
  • Edema or fluid retention in the feet

Developmental factors also contribute to differences in foot size. As people age, their feet can increase in size, and factors such as foot point and usage can contribute to this change.

Understanding the role of genetics and development in foot size aids in addressing issues effectively and ensuring proper footwear fit.

Dominant Side Effects

Research has revealed a statistically significant correlation between body weight and foot dimensions of both sides in both sexes, which indicates that one foot is often foot bigger than the other, rather than being exactly the same size. To ensure properly fitting footwear, it is essential to have your feet measured.

The dominant leg typically demonstrates:

  • superior performance
  • greater muscle strength
  • more pronation
  • outward rotation
  • flexibility

than the non-dominant leg.

The physiological explanations for dominant side effects in foot size are thought to be related to factors such as:

  • leg dominance
  • neural circuitry asymmetries
  • genetic variants
  • sex-dependent genes that affect body asymmetry

Comprehending the influence of dominant side effects on foot size aids in making wise choices when selecting footwear and managing potential concerns.

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Health Implications of Noticeable Foot Size Differences

A young woman with noticeably different sized feet

A noticeable difference in foot size can be indicative of health issues such as:

  • Spina bifida
  • Clubfoot
  • Scoliosis
  • Developmental injuries

Clubfoot, for example, can lead to a noticeable difference in foot size, with the affected foot being 1 to 1.5 shoe sizes smaller than the unaffected one and typically less mobile.

Recognizing abnormalities in foot size and consulting a podiatrist for a proper diagnosis and treatment is important. Addressing any underlying conditions can alleviate discomfort and prevent further complications related to different-sized feet.

Recognizing Abnormalities

A comparison image of both feet, showing that one foot is larger than the other, indicating is one foot bigger than the other abnormality.

Signs of abnormal foot size discrepancies may include:

  • Visible variations in shoe size between the two feet
  • Difficulty obtaining shoes that fit correctly on both feet
  • Unequal wear patterns on shoes
  • Unequal pressure distribution when walking or standing

Having one foot slightly longer than the other is considered normal, with the difference in foot length generally being less than 1 cm.

Abnormal differences in foot size may be associated with symptoms such as:

  • foot pain
  • foot deformities (such as bunions or hammer toes)
  • corns and calluses
  • ingrown toenails
  • the requirement of different shoe sizes for each foot

Identifying these abnormalities and seeking professional help can lead to proper treatment and prevent additional complications.

Addressing Underlying Conditions

Addressing underlying conditions associated with different sized feet, such as spina bifida, clubfoot, and scoliosis, can help alleviate discomfort and prevent further complications. Certain lifestyle modifications may be beneficial in managing these conditions, including:

  • Adhering to a healthy diet
  • Engaging in regular exercise
  • Managing chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure through medication, lifestyle changes, and regular check-ups with a healthcare provider.

Diagnostic methods such as gait analysis, physical examination, and diagnostic tests can help determine the cause of varying foot sizes and recommend appropriate treatments.

Addressing underlying conditions and making necessary lifestyle modifications can improve overall foot health and comfort for individuals with different sized feet.

A woman with custom-made shoe inserts to support her feet

When dealing with different foot sizes, it's important to prioritize comfort and fit when choosing shoes. Always buy shoes that fit your larger foot comfortably. This may mean purchasing two different sizes for each foot, but some shoe stores offer this service at no extra cost or for a small fee. Additionally, consider using insoles or padding in the shoe of the smaller foot to achieve a better fit and enhance comfort. This approach helps in preventing foot pain and other issues related to ill-fitting shoes, ensuring both your feet are well supported and comfortable.

Navigating Footwear with Unequal Feet Sizes

For those with unequal feet sizes, choosing the right footwear is imperative to ensure comfort and prevent foot problems. To address size differences in feet when you buy shoes, you may consider purchasing inserts or insoles to provide extra comfort for the smaller foot or visiting a podiatrist for custom orthotics.

Choosing the shoe size that fits the larger foot and using inserts or consulting a podiatrist for custom orthotics if needed, is recommended. This approach guarantees proper support for both feet and can help avoid discomfort and potential foot issues.

Selecting Proper Shoe Size

A woman trying on two pairs of shoes with different sizes

To accurately measure your foot size at home, follow these steps:

  1. Position a sheet of paper on the floor against a wall.
  2. Stand with your heel against the wall and your foot flat on the paper.
  3. Use a ruler or measuring tape to measure the length from the back of your heel to the tip of your longest toe.
  4. Measure the width of your foot by encircling the measuring tape around the widest part of your foot.
  5. Use these measurements to determine your shoe size using a sizing chart or seeking advice from a shoe size guide.

Choosing the shoe size that fits the larger foot and using inserts or custom orthotics ensures a correct shoe fit and offers the necessary support for the foot. This can help diminish the danger of injury, enhance foot function, and improve general foot health.

Custom Orthotics and Inserts

Custom orthotics and inserts are specially designed shoe inserts that are crafted to fit the unique shape and size of an individual’s foot. They provide enhanced support and alignment to accommodate different foot sizes and promote optimal foot health.

Custom inserts provide a distinct advantage when it comes to accommodating different foot sizes, as they are specifically molded to fit each individual foot, allowing for a comfortable and secure fit inside the shoe.

Custom-made shoe inserts can be crafted from a variety of materials, such as:

  • Acrylic
  • Polypropylene
  • Fiberglass
  • EVA
  • Cork
  • Foam
  • Carbon graphite composites

These materials are selected based on their specific properties and benefits, which means that custom inserts can be tailored to address the specific needs of an individual with different sized feet, providing extra comfort and support.

Maintaining Foot Health with Appropriate Footwear

For individuals with different sized feet, maintaining foot health with suitable footwear is vital. Leather, canvas, suede, and mesh are materials that are often recommended for optimal comfort when one foot is larger than the other.

Wearing appropriate footwear can help prevent discomfort, foot pain, and other foot conditions, even if it doesn’t directly contribute to size differences between feet.

Some tips for preserving foot health with suitable footwear include:

  • Wearing shoes that fit securely and provide adequate support for your feet
  • Selecting the appropriate footwear for various activities
  • Keeping your feet clean and dry
  • Examining your feet regularly for any cuts or sores
  • Replacing worn-out shoes
  • Trimming your toenails properly

Following these tips can ensure overall foot health and comfort for individuals with different sized feet, even when their foot point inwards.

Podiatry Solutions for Different Sized Feet

Podiatrists can offer solutions for individuals with different sized feet, such as gait analysis and custom-made shoe inserts.

Gait analysis is the study of an individual’s walking or movement pattern and can help identify any gait abnormalities or imbalances caused by the size difference, determining the best treatment options, such as custom orthotics or footwear modifications, to improve their gait and provide relief from any discomfort or issues caused by the size difference.

Custom-made shoe inserts are beneficial for those with unequal feet sizes, as they are specifically designed to accommodate size differences and provide additional comfort and support.

Utilizing these podiatry solutions can improve overall foot health and comfort for individuals with different sized feet.

Gait Analysis and Its Benefits

Gait analysis involves evaluating an individual’s biomechanics while they move, typically assessing the characteristics of the feet, including size, arch type, and limb alignment. This analysis assists in determining the most suitable shoe or footwear for the person’s distinct requirements and can help identify foot, ankle, leg, and back pain that intensifies during standing and walking.

Analyzing the way a person walks allows podiatrists to:

  • Identify any gait abnormalities or imbalances caused by the size difference
  • Determine the best treatment options, such as custom orthotics or footwear modifications, to improve their gait
  • Relieve any discomfort or issues caused by the size difference.

Gait analysis is a valuable tool in determining the best footwear for people with differently sized feet and can help to identify any potential gait issues or foot pathologies that may require specialized footwear or modifications.

Custom-Made Shoe Inserts and Their Advantages

Custom-made shoe inserts can be designed to accommodate size differences and provide additional comfort and support for those with unequal feet sizes. Obtaining custom-made shoe inserts generally involves the following steps:

  1. Visit a healthcare provider or orthotics specialist who will assess your feet.
  2. The provider will take a mold of your feet.
  3. The inserts will be crafted based on the mold.
  4. The provider will fit the inserts into your shoes.

Due to their personalized design, custom inserts are often preferred to over-the-counter options for comfort and support with unequal feet sizes.

Custom inserts are tailored to the individual’s feet, taking into account arch height, foot shape, and gait pattern, which allows for a better fit and improved support.

This can result in increased comfort and reduced pain compared to over-the-counter options, which are mass-produced and may not provide the same level of customization and support.


In conclusion, understanding the prevalence, causes, and health implications of unequal foot sizes is essential for maintaining optimal foot health and comfort.

By selecting the appropriate footwear, utilizing custom orthotics and inserts, and seeking podiatry solutions such as gait analysis, individuals with different-sized feet can successfully navigate the challenges that come with this common phenomenon. Take charge of your foot health today, and enjoy a comfortable, pain-free future.

Common Questions

1. Which foot is bigger right or left?

The left foot is usually larger due to the way we walk, as the right side of the body is typically dominant.

2. Why is one of your feet bigger than the other?

It is normal for your feet to not be identical, with the left foot usually being larger than the right. This is because most people are right-side dominant and it helps them keep their balance when stepping forward with their left foot.

3. Can one of my feet be wider than the other?

It's quite common to have one foot that's larger and wider than the other, with about 60% of the population having different sized feet. Therefore, yes, one of your feet can be wider than the other.

4. What does it mean if one foot is bigger than the other?

Having one foot larger than the other is perfectly normal as most people are right-side dominant and tend to step forward with their left foot. This helps them balance better when walking.

5. How can I measure my foot size at home?

Position a sheet of paper against the wall, stand with your heel and foot flat on the paper, and measure the length and width of your foot. Use these measurements to determine your shoe size using a sizing chart or a shoe size guide.

The information on our website is intended for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. For any health-related concerns, we strongly recommend consulting with a healthcare professional. Please note that any reliance on the information found on our site is solely at your own risk. For more details, please see our Medical Disclaimer.

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Last Updated: 
February 15, 2024
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