Ever heard a bell ring?
The sound is made by a small thing (the clapper), regularly hitting the bigger thing that encloses it (the bell).
Right about now you’re thinking this is a weird way to start an article about running shoes, aren’t you?
The thing is, we’ve known that small things will hit the sides of big things if you move them about for a thousand years now.
So how come people with narrow feet (small things) are so poorly served when it comes to buying running shoes (big things) that fit?
Because here’s the thing. When a clapper hits the side of a bell, it makes a great sound, and everybody’s happy. When a narrow foot’s enclosed in a shoe that’s too big, it hits the side too, but what happens isn’t a happy sound. It’s abrasion. It’s blisters. It’s pain and twisting and it ruins the running lives of people with narrow feet.
Well, enough is enough. Either we accept that every time a bell rings, a clapper cries in pain, which would ruin bells forever, or we find people with narrow feet some running shoes! It shouldn’t be as hard as people with narrow feet have found it for decades.
And in fact, finally, narrow-footed people are starting to catch a break in the whole running shoe arena. More and more companies are taking narrow-footed runners into account. Let the bells ring out, as we take you through the best running shoes for narrow feet.
Top 5 Best Running Shoes For Narrow Feet
OUR TOP PICK
The Brooks Women’s Ghost 12 is a shoe you’ll see time and time again on lists of best running shoes. It’s among the best running shoes across a whole range of divisions and segmentations. As such, it’s also one of the bestselling running shoes across a broad market spectrum.
All of which is just fancy talk for the fact that the Brooks Women’s Ghost 12 is an excellent running shoe, and lots of people love it.
So what’s behind the love affair? And in particular, what does it offer you if you’re narrow-footed?
First of all, it’s a neutral running shoe with neutral support and the kind of cushioning that makes it feel like a running bedroom slipper. Comfort, comfort, comfort is the name of the Ghost 12’s game.
That extends to runners with narrow feet because it comes in a narrow sizing option.
Boom! Job #1 for the narrow-footed runner – done.
But sure, that’s a minimum requirement to get near the top of a list like this. What else does the Brooks Ghost 12 have to offer?
Let’s break it down slightly. It’s an intelligently designed neutral running shoe with a dual density DNA foam midsole. Foamy comfort and support – a pretty good deal whether you’re narrow-footed or not.
It also comes with a segmented crash pad.
So what? So more cushioning, that’s what. Really, we’re not kidding about the running bedroom slipper. The Ghost 12 is a running shoe that wants to give back to you for the good decisions you make in your life. Eating that second piece of pie? Good decision, pleasure’s important in a busy world, have a foam midsole. Getting up to go running when you want to turn over and sleep more? Good decision, discipline’s important too, have a segmented crash pad. Not going on a second date with Sleazy Eric from Accounts? Great decision, self-respect is key…what else do we have for you? Oh! How about some Omega Flex Grooves, promoting foot flexibility. Go ahead, you deserve flexible feet…
The Brooks Ghost 12 is a very breathable shoe too. Sure, it’s padded and cushioned and foamy and soft, but it’s not like having your feet wrapped in cotton wool. In fact, it’s so dedicated to breathability, the mesh upper is engineered and 3D printed to keep your feet cool as you rack up the miles.
If you have particular orthotics you want to insert, that’s no problem – the insole of the Ghost 12 is removable, so you can customise that element.
And as much as anything, it combines a narrow heel and midfoot section with a wider toe box for room to wiggle.
If you do the whole toe striking thing, you might have issues with the Ghost 12 because it has a pretty considerable 12mm drop. But if you’re just a narrow-footed runner with a dream of a supremely comfortable running shoe that has you in mind, the Ghost 12 is pretty unbeatable in the market.
- Proper, true-to-size narrow B fitting option
- Lightweight running shoe
- Fantastic cushioning
- Omega Flex Grooves for foot flexibility
- DNA foam midsole
- Narrow heel, wider toe box
- Some runners report early wear on the heel collar
- 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...
- 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.
We said that job #1 of the best running shoes for narrow feet was to come in narrow sizes.
The adidas Women’s Ultraboost 19…erm…doesn’t come in narrow sizes.
We know, we know! But, in defence of the adidas shoe, its regular width does fit narrow feet. It’s not the same, we know. It’s not the market bowing to the needs of narrow-footed runners. But if you’re just after a pair of running shoes that fit narrow feet really well, you need to think about the adidas.
What we have here is a neutral shoe with a 10mm drop. If you have high arches or you’re underpronate, this is a running shoe you can’t really afford to ignore.
It’s a well-cushioned shoe, with an adidas Boost underarch. And the upper is made of adidas Primeknit, which is designed to give you a ‘second skin’ feel and help avoid rubbing and chafing.
The Boost underarch and the rubber outsole also help give you some good energy return on each step you run. That means you get a springier feel and less pounding on your feet per mile run.
adidas has invested in some clever technological design in these running shoes too. Particularly impressive is the torsion spring along the sole and the 3D heel frame.
Why should you care about a 3D heel frame? Because it locks the heel in place. A locked heel means you don’t have to tie the laces so tight around the midfoot. Less tension and tightness around the midfoot makes for a more comfortable running experience. That’s especially important if you have narrower feet, because one of the traditional ways to keep running shoes from rubbing narrower feet was to tighten the laces like a corset. Lock the heel, loosen the laces, and let your narrower feet breathe. The shoe is naturally tight without being uncomfortable, and so helps narrow-footed runners get more joy out of their run.
While it’s less cushioned than the Brooks Ghost 12, the adidas Ultraboost 19 applies some science to give narrower-footed runners some relief, some comfort and a great running experience. That’s what earns it a place on this list.
Naturally narrow fit
Use of adidas’ Boost cushioning for comfort
Primeknit upper gives a second skin fit
3D heel frame stops runners having to lace so tight
Not as lightweight as some shoes on the market
- Lace closure
- Supportive adidas Primeknit 360
- Comfortable textile lining; Stretchweb outsole flexes naturally for an energised ride, and Continental Rubber gives you superior traction
The ASICS Gel-Cumulus 18 is another shoe that while technically neutral, puts a lot of science and technology into delivering a great shoe for runners with narrower feet.
With a 10mm drop, if you’re a heel striker with high arches, you may have found the shoe for you.
Foams are fabulous, but plenty of runners argue that when it comes to shock absorption and delivery of spring in the step, gels are better. The gel in the Cumulus 18 is certainly an argument for that, giving you fantastic shock absorption.
The Cumulus 18 shoes have arch support which helps people with those higher arches to run without pain or longer-term damage. Nut they’re also lightweight, flexible and breathable. That’s a pretty impressive all-round running shoe. The gels also mean they can keep stealing the pain of pounding feet away for middle to long distance running.
You’re going to have to excuse us for a moment. We’re going to totally geek out on you. You know we said ASICS was putting science and technology into these running shoes? It goes…quite a lot further than just the 10mm drop and the anti-impact gels.
Get this. This is a shoe that contains:
- I.G.S (Impact Guidance System) technology – a set of linked components to enhance the foot’s natural gait from heel strike to toe-off
- A FluidRide midsole: FluidRide is an ASICS cushioning and bounce back system to improve the durability of the shoe
- Rearfoot and forefoot gel cushioning
- Guidance Trusstic System technology: the Trusstic System enhances the efficiency of your gait as you run, while also giving you midfoot structural integrity
- Guidance Line Midsole technology: More technology to enhance your gait while you run
That’s a lot of technology and design to cram into a pair of running shoes to make sure you get the best run you can have.
All of which is fine and comfortable, but what about runners with narrower feet? All the gait-improvement technology in the world is next to useless if the shoe’s too wide.
Narrow fittings available in all the most popular sizes, thank you.
What ASICS has done with the Gel-Cumulus 18 is spend a lot of time, effort and money developing a fantastic running shoe. And then had the good sense to open it up across the width spectrum. Narrow-footed runners have a solid handful of good options on this list, but the ASCIS Gel-Cumulus 18 is a lot of supportive running shoe for the money.
- Well cushioned, comfortable running shoe
- Narrow fittings available in the most common sizes
- Strong arch support
- Gait improvement while you run
- While the narrow fitting is great, the toebox may feel a little cramped
- Impact Guidance System (I.G.S) (Running) : ASICS design philosophy that employs linked componentry to enhance the foot's natural gait from heel strike to toe-off.
- FluidRide: FluidRide provides the ultimate combination of bounce back and cushioning properties with reduced weight and exceptional durability.
- Rearfoot and Forefoot GEL Cushioning Systems: Attenuates shock during impact and toe-off phases, and allows movement on multiple planes as the foot transitions through the gait cycle.
Sticking with ASICS gel-cushioned shoes, it’s worth mentioning an option for the gentlemen runners with narrow feet.
The Nimbus 20 running shoe is a higher-end version of the tech-heavy Cumulus, which means you get a neutral shoe, but with the FluidRide midsole for support and bounce back. The 10mm drop enforces heel strike and improves the gait of your run too.
As if it didn’t pack enough proprietary technology and design into its Cumulus shoes, in the Nimbus you also get a midsole with “FlyteFoam” technology.
What the ever-living heck is FlyteFoam technology? Soft, supportive foam, with a cleverness built in. Because it’s made of organic fibers, it avoids packing out in the way some more synthetic fibers do, to maintain its shape, and its support, for longer runs. So the Nimbus 20 is a shoe that won’t let you down even on longer running sessions.
And yes, it’s a shoe that comes in narrow fittings through the most popular mid-range of its sizes. So, as with the Cumulus, you get a great shoe, tailored down for narrow feet alongside the “standard” version.
- Narrow fittings routinely available
- Well cushioned heel.
- FluidRide midsole gives good bounce back
- FlyteFoam organic fibers prevent packing out
- Efficient lacing system locks in the midfoot
- Some users found the toe box too constricting
- Others said the treads wore out rapidly
- FLYTEFOAM MIDSOLE TECHNOLOGY Our FlyteFoam technology provides exceptional bounce back and responsiveness no matter the distance, utilizing organic super fibers to help reduce packing out that...
- FLUIDRIDE MIDSOLE: ASICS FluidRide midsole provides the ultimate combination of bounce back and cushioning properties with reduced weight and exceptional durability.
The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 is a shoe with a strong reputation, especially among long distance runners. It’s known for comfort over the length of the run, and for the quality of its cushioning.
The V8 has now been on the market long enough to add luster to the 1010’s reputation (a V10 is also now available and has gained favorable reviews). It has an 8mm drop, which makes it especially the friend of runners with high arches with a tendency to strike the ground on the midfoot.
The Fresh Foam of the name is a reference to the midsole, created out of a single piece of foam for more fluid transmission of impact and for stronger support.
There’s also a no-sew process to cover the shoe, so you don’t get any of the potentially painful rubbing points of some others shoes on the market.
While the shoe is available in narrow fittings, the toe box has enough breadth to allow you some wiggle room.
While it’s perhaps less of a “special” running shoe than some of the others on our list, if you’re a narrow-footed runner with long distances in mind, you can get comfort, support and none of the “standard-fit” pain or drama with the New Balance 1010 V8.
Narrow fit routinely available – in both men’s and women’s versions
Fresh Foam midsole for comfort and support
Wide toe box available even with narrow fittings
The new cushioning makes it a slightly less responsive shoe than the V6
Double check the sizing – some users find New balance run a little larger than standard sizing
Best Running Shoes For Narrow Feet- Buying Guide
If you’re buying running shoes to treat your narrow feet well, there are a handful of things to keep in mind.
Narrow Fitting First
While it would be great to be able to assume that every excellent running shoe would come with a narrow fitting, that’s not the case. Make the availability of narrow fittings your first question – it will cut your decision-making down in a heartbeat.
Choose Your Type Of Running
You’ve seen from our list there are narrow-fitted running shoes across the range of running activities. This sounds obvious, but match your running shoe short list to the type of shoes that can help you with the kind of running you intend to do. It’s pointless ending up with the benefits that a long-distance runner might need, for instance, if you’re going to do smaller but more intense running circuits.
Get As Much Shoe For your Money As Possible
Narrow your choices down to shoes available in a narrow fitting (or those whose standard fits run narrow), and match them to the type of running you’re going to do. Then, get all the benefits you can. Breathable meshes, spring back foams, ultra-cushioning gels – the amount of science that goes into modern running shoes is impressive. Get as much of it as you can to help give yourself the most comfortable running shoes of your life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Aren’t all running shoes available in narrow fittings?
Sadly not. The economics of making every shoe available in narrow fittings – and wide fittings – aren’t as yet practical. That’s why you need to hunt carefully for the best running shoes that will fit narrow feet.
What should I look for in running shoes for narrow feet?
This sounds flippant, but narrowness is key. If you have narrow feet, you’ll know the familiar feeling of putting on a standard shoe and feeling swamped. If you’re not feeling that usual sense of being unsupported, chances are you’ve got a shoe that’s worth investigating. Make sure you pick a shoe that either comes in a narrow fit option to help give you that supported feeling, or one whose standard fits are narrow.
Can I get a narrow-fitting running shoe for all sorts of running?
You can, but it means really focusing your search. In our list, we’ve given you options for narrow-fitting running shoes across the running spectrum, from general day-to-day running to long distance running. Once you’re sure the shoe is available in a narrower fitting that will work for you, that’s not the end of the selection process. That’s round one. Make sure you choose a running shoe that has the stamina to deal with the kind of running you intend to put it through.