Have you noticed that your feet seem smaller lately? Do your shoes feel looser than they used to? If so, you’re not alone – many people experience their shoe size decreasing as they get older.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: As we age, the cartilage in our feet compresses and the tendons/ligaments stretch, causing our feet to elongate and widen. This changes the proportions of our feet, making them appear smaller even if they aren’t actually shrinking.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore all the factors that can cause your shoe size to get smaller as you age. We’ll look at structural changes in the foot, health conditions, weight loss, and ways you can accommodate your new foot size.

Structural Changes in the Foot with Age

As we age, our bodies go through various changes, and this includes our feet. Many people notice that their shoe size seems to be getting smaller over time. This can be attributed to several structural changes that occur in the foot as we grow older.

Compression of Cartilage

One of the reasons why shoe size may decrease with age is due to the compression of cartilage in the foot. Cartilage acts as a cushion between the bones and helps absorb shock during walking or running.

Over time, the cartilage in the foot can become compressed, leading to a decrease in the overall size of the foot. This can result in a need for smaller shoe sizes as we age.

Stretching of Ligaments and Tendons

Ligaments and tendons in the foot can also stretch and lose elasticity with age. Ligaments are responsible for providing stability to the joints, while tendons connect muscles to bones. As these tissues stretch and become less flexible, the arch of the foot may flatten, causing the foot to become longer and wider.

This change in foot structure can contribute to a decrease in shoe size.

Flattening of the Arch

Another common change that occurs in the foot with age is the flattening of the arch. The arch of the foot is formed by a combination of bones, ligaments, and tendons. Over time, the arch can gradually lose its height and become flatter.

This can result in a decrease in shoe size, as the foot becomes longer and wider when the arch is less pronounced.

It’s important to note that these structural changes are not experienced by everyone and can vary from person to person. Additionally, factors such as weight gain, pregnancy, and certain medical conditions can also contribute to changes in foot size.

If you are experiencing significant changes in your shoe size or foot structure, it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional or podiatrist for further evaluation.

Health Conditions Causing Foot Changes


Arthritis is a common health condition that can cause changes in foot size. Rheumatoid arthritis, for example, is an autoimmune disease that affects the joints and can lead to swelling and inflammation. This can cause the bones and tissues in the feet to shift, resulting in a change in shoe size.

Additionally, osteoarthritis, which is caused by wear and tear on the joints, can also lead to changes in foot size over time.


Diabetes is another health condition that can cause foot changes. High blood sugar levels can damage nerves and blood vessels in the feet, leading to a condition called peripheral neuropathy. This can result in a loss of sensation in the feet and a decrease in muscle strength, which can cause the feet to change shape and size.

Additionally, individuals with diabetes may experience swelling or edema in their feet, which can further impact their shoe size.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves in the peripheral nervous system. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, and certain medications.

Peripheral neuropathy can lead to numbness, tingling, and pain in the feet, as well as muscle weakness. These changes can affect the size and shape of the feet, potentially causing a decrease in shoe size.

If you are experiencing changes in your shoe size, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional. They can help determine the underlying cause of these changes and provide appropriate treatment options.

Additionally, it may be necessary to invest in new footwear that accommodates any changes in foot size and shape.

Weight Loss

One possible reason why your shoe size may appear to be getting smaller is weight loss. When you lose weight, you generally lose fat from all areas of your body, including your feet. This can result in a decrease in the size of your feet and ultimately a smaller shoe size.

However, it’s important to note that this decrease in shoe size may not be significant for everyone and can vary depending on individual factors such as body composition and genetics.

How does weight loss affect feet?

Weight loss can affect the size and shape of your feet in a few different ways. First, excess weight can put pressure on the ligaments and tendons in your feet, causing them to stretch and flatten. As you lose weight, this pressure is relieved, and your feet may naturally return to their original shape and size.

Furthermore, weight loss can also reduce inflammation in the body, including the feet. This can result in a decrease in swelling and overall foot size. Additionally, weight loss can improve circulation, which may also contribute to a reduction in foot size.

Factors to consider

While weight loss can potentially lead to a decrease in shoe size, it’s important to consider other factors that may contribute to changes in foot size. For example, aging and natural wear and tear on the feet can cause the ligaments and tendons to become stretched and flattened over time, leading to a larger shoe size.

In some cases, foot conditions such as bunions or hammertoes can also cause the feet to appear larger. These conditions may not necessarily be influenced by weight loss alone and may require specific treatment or intervention.

Consulting a professional

If you are experiencing a noticeable decrease in shoe size due to weight loss, it may be worth consulting a professional, such as a podiatrist or a shoe fitting specialist. They can help assess your foot size and provide guidance on finding the right footwear for your changing feet.

Remember, everyone’s body is unique, and changes in foot size can vary from person to person. It’s essential to listen to your body and make choices that support your overall health and comfort.

Accommodating a Smaller Shoe Size

Have Feet Measured Annually

One of the reasons why your shoe size may be getting smaller is due to changes in the size and shape of your feet over time. Feet can naturally change in size as we age, due to factors such as weight gain or loss, pregnancy, or even just the natural changes that occur in our bodies.

To ensure the most accurate fit, it is recommended to have your feet measured annually. This can be done at a shoe store or by a professional podiatrist, who can provide you with the most up-to-date measurements of your feet.

Try On Shoes Before Buying

When shopping for new shoes, it is important to try them on before making a purchase. Even if you have been wearing a certain shoe size for years, it doesn’t necessarily mean that every shoe in that size will fit you perfectly.

Different shoe brands and styles can vary in terms of their fit, so it’s always a good idea to try on several pairs and see which ones feel the most comfortable. Don’t be afraid to walk around in the shoes and test them out to make sure they accommodate your smaller shoe size properly.

Consider Insoles or Inserts

If you find that your shoes are still too big even after trying on different sizes, you may want to consider using insoles or inserts. These can help fill in the extra space and provide additional cushioning and support for your feet.

There are various types of insoles and inserts available, including ones specifically designed for people with smaller feet. They can be easily inserted into your shoes and are often adjustable, allowing you to customize the fit to your liking.

Additionally, insoles can help alleviate any discomfort or pain that may be caused by wearing shoes that are too big.

Shop End of Day When Feet Are Largest

Another tip to accommodate a smaller shoe size is to shop for shoes towards the end of the day when your feet are at their largest. Throughout the day, our feet can swell and expand, so by trying on shoes when your feet are at their largest, you can ensure a better fit.

This is especially important if you have noticed that your feet tend to be smaller in the morning and larger later in the day. By shopping at the end of the day, you can account for any fluctuations in foot size and choose shoes that accommodate your feet at their largest.


While it may be frustrating and costly to accommodate a smaller shoe size, the change is a natural part of aging. Understanding what causes your feet to shrink can help you adapt. Getting your feet measured annually, trying on shoes before buying, using inserts, and shopping later in the day are all effective strategies.

With some minor adjustments, you can keep your feet comfortable and happy even as your sizing changes.

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