If you have trouble finding shoes that fit because have small or large feet, you might be wondering about what the average is.
So to help you understand where your feet lie in the size range and to give you some information about how the situation has changed over the past few decades, in this post we look at the question, what is the average shoe size for men?
What is the average shoe size in the US and worldwide?
Let’s get started by giving a straight answer to a simple question – what is the average shoe size for men?
According to a 2014 report by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the average men’s shoe size in the US was 10.5. According to the same report, in other parts of the world, the average varied, but it fell between size 9 and 12.
Furthermore, for males over 13 years of age and with a height of 6ft 2in, the average size was size 11-12. For males of 13 and over and measuring 5ft 5in or less, the average shoe size was 7-9.
As you can see from these numbers, there appears to be a correlation between height and foot length, but it isn’t quite as simple as that, so now let’s look at this in more detail.
Is there a connection between height and foot size?
It seems intuitive that taller people should have larger feet, and this is simply because they have larger bodies – so as the rest of your body grows, so do your feet.
There is supposedly even an expected ratio of 6.6:1 that can be applied to this, meaning that for every 6.6 inches of height, you should expect 1 inch of foot length.
In other words, somebody who is 6ft tall – or 72 inches – should have feet that are 10.9 inches long (because 72/6.6 = 10.9).
However, in reality, this is rarely accurate.
This is because, although the taller you are the bigger your feet, the size of your feet is not directly proportional to your height, so the size of people’s feet varies.
This is only logical because you wouldn’t expect everyone who is 6ft tall to have exactly the same sized feet – some taller people have smaller feet just as some shorter people have larger feet.
So all we can really say is the taller you are, the bigger your feet will tend to be, and the shorter you are, the smaller you expect your feet to be, but there is still plenty of variation.
However, at the same time, over the last half a century or so, there has been a marked trend for average feet sizes to increase, so why is this?
Why are our feet getting bigger?
Anecdotally, most people are probably aware that average shoe sizes – as well as average clothing sizes – are rising. But what do the numbers say?
According to the UK’s Independent newspaper, the College of Podiatry has shown that the size of both men’s and women’s feet in the UK have increased by two sizes in the last four decades.
This means that while before, the average men’s size was a UK 8, now it’s a 10 – while for women, it used to be a 4, but now it’s a 6.
Similarly, in the 1960s in the US, the average size for a woman was a US 6.5, whereas now it’s 8.5-9.
As a result, shoe sizes for both men and women that were once not commonly available are now considered standard, and you won’t need to go to a specialist shop or shoemaker to find shoes in the 13-14 range for men. But why is this?
The simple reason is that people are just bigger all-round now, and this is related to diet.
In the past, many people did not have access to the same levels of nutrition as they do now, and as a result, they were shorter in stature.
Most importantly, children are now better fed during the years when they are growing. Having enough food during this period stimulates growth hormones, causing you to grow more as well as initiating the onset of puberty at a younger age.
Again, most people are aware of this anecdotally, but the numbers back it up too.
According to the Independent, between 1870 and 1980, the height of the average adult European male increased from 5ft 5in to 5ft 10in. And as we have already seen, this leads to a corresponding increase in foot size too.
However, this still isn’t quite the whole story.
Do our feet continue growing as we get older?
Some people may notice that their feet may seem larger now than when they were younger and that old shoes no longer seem to fit, but is this possible? After all, we know that our ears and noses continue to grow throughout our lives, so can the same be true of our feet?
Yes and no.
Our ears and noses continue to grow as we get older because they contain cartilage, and cartilage never stops growing.
However, feet contain bones, and our bones stop growing after we reach puberty, usually at the age of around 16. So it’s not the same thing.
However, what does happen is that as we grow older, our feet begin to spread out more as our weight causes our feet to splay. This means that as we move towards middle and old age, our feet are likely to be wider and perhaps also slightly longer than before.
So our feet don’t technically “grow” as we get older, but the size of our feet – and our shoe size – may increase with time.
How does diet contribute to this?
Although people’s feet naturally splay with age, in recent decades, obesity has become an increasingly prevalent problem, and being overweight places further stress on our feet. This, in turn, causes them to splay more and at an earlier age.
Additionally, since children’s bones are softer and more pliable, the feet of overweight children are more prone to splaying, leading to wider feet from a younger age. This extra weight can also cause the arches to collapse, leading to increased instances of flat feet.
So people’s while people’s feet have always become slightly larger as they aged, the effect is now more pronounced in the population due to more people being overweight.
How can you determine your shoe size?
This may all be interesting academically, but there are real-world consequences too.
Since some people may be unaware that their feet change size and shape as they age, they may continue forcing their feet into shoes that no longer fit.
Wearing shoes that are too small can lead to a range of problems, including bunions, joint problems, pain and foot deformity.
For this reason, you should always measure your feet when buying new shoes rather than just continuing to shop for the same sizes you have always worn. So what’s the best way to do this?
If you buy shoes from a decent shoe store, they should have a device that can measure the size of your foot accurately, including measurements of both length and width.
If not, the simple way is to measure the length of your foot at home using a piece of paper, a marker pen and a tape measure.
Place the paper against the wall and step on the paper with your heel gently touching the base of the wall. Then, using the marker, make a line on the paper at the point where your foot is longest.
Bear in mind that this may be your big toe or your second toe, depending on the shape of your feet.
After this, you just need to measure the distance from the wall to the line on the paper to find the size of your feet. You can then use this measurement to find the size of your feet according to the charts provided by the brand of shoe you want to buy.
When you do this, make sure you are wearing the socks you will usually be wearing with the shoes you want to buy. It’s also best to do this at the end of the day since our feet tend to swell throughout the day, and you want to measure them at their biggest.
What are the largest and smallest available sizes?
Once you’ve measured your feet and compared them to shoe sizing charts, you will have a good idea of which size you need. As we’ve already mentioned, the average US men’s size is 10.5, but what happens if you have feet that are significantly larger or smaller than this?
Most shoe brands produce shoes that range from size 5 to size 13 or 14 (for men). However, some sports shoes made by brands like Nike or Adidas are available in sizes up to 21 or 22.
Some brands also make smaller shoes. For example, Adidas and Converse have shoes as small as size 3 for men, while Nike, Crocs, Asics and Onitsuka Tiger start their ranges at men’s size 4.
If you have feet that are smaller than this – or you don’t want to buy from these brands – your other option is to look at child’s sizes. Another possibility is to look at unisex models, which may also be available in smaller sizes.
Note that the number in a shoe size refers to the length of your foot, but the width is sometimes measured too. Foot width is indicated by a letter, with D being average, A being narrow and E being wide.
If you have narrow or wide feet, some brands are known to be more suitable. For example, Adidas shoes are wider than average, making them a good choice for those with slightly wider feet.
That said, if you have especially wide or narrow feet, you may need to look for specialist shoes or consider having them made to order.
Is a men’s size 11 considered “big”?
While a size 11 shoe would once have marked you out as someone with oversized feet, this is no longer the case. Many people nowadays have size 11 feet or larger, and it’s now quite easy to find stores stocking these sizes as standard.
Are shoes from different brands all the same size?
No. While there is a generally accepted idea about how big different sizes should be, the system has never been formally standardized, so shoes from different brands may be bigger or smaller than average compared to the stated size.
This means you should always measure your feet before buying new shoes and compare with a sizing chart from the relevant manufacturer even if the pair you usually wear fits well – because the brand you want to buy may run bigger or smaller.
What’s the average shoe size for a 6ft man in the US?
The average size for a 6ft American male is around US 11.5, with a common range from 11-12.5.
What shoe size is considered “big” for a man?
Anyone with US size 12 or above would generally be considered to have big feet. However, as we mentioned above, even people with feet this big shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding shoes that fit.
What size is considered “small” for a man?
A man with US size 8 or less would be considered to have small feet, although there should still be plenty of options, and finding suitable footwear shouldn’t be a problem.
Is it ok to squeeze into shoes that are too small?
Generally speaking, it’s best not to wear shoes that are too small. Otherwise, you may end up causing permanent damage to your feet.
That said, if you buy new shoes that are slightly too small, they will stretch with time, so if you wear them in gently and allow them to stretch to accommodate your feet, you should be ok.
However, if the shoes you want to buy are clearly far too small for your feet, it’s advisable to find another better fitting pair.
Men’s feet are getting bigger – but so are shoe sizes
So as we have seen, it is widely accepted that men’s shoe sizes around the world are getting larger, as is the average height of people around the world. This trend is apparent in the US, where shoe sizes have increased at least a couple of sizes over the last few decades.
However, shoe manufacturers are aware of this trend and now produce shoes in larger sizes than before, so even if you have what would once have been considered “big feet”, you should still be able to find shoes that fit without too much trouble.