What is a Medium in Shoe Size: The Perfect Fit?

When it comes to finding the perfect pair of shoes, one of the most important factors to consider is the fit. Shoes that fit properly not only feel comfortable, but they can also help prevent foot pain and other issues caused by poorly fitting footwear. One aspect of shoe size that can be confusing for many people is the meaning of the term “medium.” In this article, we will explore what a medium is in shoe size and how to find shoes that fit.

What is a Medium in Shoe Size?

When you see a shoe size listed as, for example, “10.5M,” the “M” stands for “medium.” But what does that mean, exactly? Essentially, “medium” is used to refer to a shoe width that is considered to be average or standard. The other common width options are narrow (N) and wide (W), so medium falls somewhere in the middle in terms of width.

How is Shoe Width Measured?

To understand what a medium is in shoe size, it can be helpful to know how shoe width is measured. Typically, shoe width is measured using a Brannock Device, which is a type of foot measuring tool. The Brannock Device measures the width of the foot at its widest point, which is usually at the ball of the foot.

Based on this measurement, shoes are then categorized into different width sizes. A medium or standard width typically falls within the range of 3.375 inches to 4.3125 inches in width for men’s shoes and 2.75 inches to 3.625 inches for women’s shoes.

Why is Shoe Width Important?

Shoe width is an important factor to consider when looking for shoes that fit well. A shoe that is too narrow can cause pinching, cramping, and even numbness in the toes and feet, while a shoe that is too wide can lead to slipping and rubbing, which can cause blisters and other foot injuries.

Additionally, shoes that are too tight or too loose can affect your gait and cause problems with your posture and balance. This can lead to chronic pain in the feet, knees, and lower back.

How to Determine Your Shoe Size and Width

To find shoes that fit properly, it’s important to know your shoe size and width. Here are some steps you can take to determine your shoe size and width:

Step 1: Measure Your Foot

The first step in finding the perfect pair of shoes is to measure your foot. You can do this using a Brannock Device, which is available at many shoe stores, or you can do it at home using a ruler and a piece of paper.

Simply place your foot on the paper and trace around it with a pencil. Then, measure the length and width of your foot with a ruler. Use these measurements to find your shoe size on a size chart.

Step 2: Determine Your Width

Once you know your shoe size, it’s important to determine your width. To do this, you’ll need to measure the width of your foot at its widest point using a tape measure or ruler.

Compare this measurement to the standard shoe widths to find your ideal width. Remember that not all brands and styles of shoes are the same, so you may need to try on several pairs to find the perfect fit.

Step 3: Try Them On

When you’re shopping for shoes, try to go later in the day when your feet may be slightly swollen from walking and standing. Bring the socks or orthotics you plan to wear with the shoes to ensure a proper fit.

Try on both shoes and walk around in them to get a feel for how they fit. Pay attention to any areas of pressure or discomfort, as these can indicate that the shoes are not the right fit for you.

Tips for Finding Shoes That Fit Well

Aside from knowing your shoe size and width, there are some other tips you can follow to find shoes that fit well and are comfortable to wear:

Look for Accommodations

If you have specific foot conditions, such as bunions or plantar fasciitis, look for shoes that are designed to accommodate these issues. Look for shoes with extra padding or support in specific areas of the shoe.

Consider Your Activities

Think about what you’ll be doing while wearing the shoes. If you’ll be exercising or participating in sports, look for shoes with good shock absorption and support. If you’ll be standing or walking for long periods, look for shoes with extra cushioning.

Don’t Sacrifice Comfort for Style

While it can be tempting to go for a stylish pair of shoes, comfort should always be your top priority. Avoid shoes that pinch, rub, or feel too tight, even if they look great.

Try Different Sizes and Widths

Remember that not all shoes fit the same, even within the same brand. Don’t be afraid to try on several sizes and widths to find the perfect fit.

Common Questions About Shoe Size and Width

Here are some of the most common questions people have about shoe size and width:

  • What does it mean if a shoe width is labeled “wide”?
  • If a shoe width is labeled “wide,” it means it is designed to accommodate feet that are wider than the average width for that shoe size. Wide shoes typically have more space in the toe box and other areas of the shoe to prevent pinching and rubbing.

  • What is the difference between European and American shoe sizes?
  • European shoe sizes tend to run larger than American shoe sizes. For example, a size 8 in the US would typically be a size 38 in Europe.

  • Can I wear shoes that are a half size too small?
  • It’s generally not recommended to wear shoes that are too small, even if it’s just a half size. Shoes that are too small can cause discomfort, soreness, and even long-term foot problems.

  • Do all shoe brands use the same sizing chart?
  • No, every shoe brand may use a slightly different sizing chart. This is why it’s important to measure your foot and try on multiple sizes and widths before buying a new pair of shoes.


Now that you know what a medium is in shoe size and how to find shoes that fit well, you can shop for shoes with confidence. Remember to measure your foot and determine your width, try on multiple sizes and widths, and prioritize comfort over style. By following these tips, you can find the perfect pair of shoes for your needs.


  • https://www.verywellfit.com/shoe-size-and-fit-3435562
  • https://www.ilovemykanken.com/blogs/news/shoe-size-explained
  • https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/bad-shoes-and-your-feet

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