How to Break in Shoes: A Complete Guide

An in-depth guide on how to break in shoes How to Break in Shoes: A Complete Guide

It is always nice to purchase a new pair of shoes. It doesn’t matter if they are new running shoes or even just a chic pair to wear out with the girls, new shoes can put a smile on anyone’s face. However, shoes that are new don’t always give you the perfect fit right at the beginning, so you will need to know how to break them in without giving yourself blisters.

Depending on what material the shoes are made from, it might just be possible to break them in without even putting them on. This will include trying a few different techniques so that they will give you a better fit. Even when you get the right size, they can be a bit snug at times.

Shoes that feel as if they are too tight can be more than a simple inconvenience. They can lead to discomfort and even pain. They might also cause bunions and/or blisters.

When you wear shoes that your feet are too big for, you can even get toenail fungus due to there being less air flowing through your shoes. Everyone who gets new shoes wants to be able to wear them comfortably and enjoy them. You shouldn’t need to worry about blisters that can bleed and be painful. It is a good thing that there are ways for you to break those shoes in without any of the pain.

Breaking Shoes in Without the Pain

If you have always wondered how you can break in new shoes without giving yourself blisters, you have come to the right place. It can be a common thing for the back part of your ankle to be sore from the shoes constantly rubbing against it. Once you have mastered the art of breaking them in though, you will never need to worry about that again.

If you happen to be wearied from rubbing your heels against your shoes, you might want to try one of the techniques we will talk about. Whether you bought dress shoes or running shoes, we will go over methods that can help you stretch them out so that you can wear them comfortably.

Running Shoes

It can be both painful and dangerous to begin running or working out in new athletic shoes before you break them in. If you decide to go out for a run in these shoes, you run the risk of getting painful blisters on your feet. New shoes don’t always have the ideal fit when you first buy them. They might need a bit of time to conform to the lines and curves of your foot. If you don’t take the necessary time for them to do that, it could put you out of the running for a while due to blisters and pain.

It can be challenging to break in new athletic shoes if you don’t wear them quite a bit. This is due to them typically being made from synthetic materials that don’t have a lot of stretch. Things that are meant to stretch shoes out might not be helpful because the chemicals in them don’t tend to react in the ways that they do with other types of materials.

However, you don’t necessarily need to run a marathon in order to get a proper fit from these shoes.

Let’s talk a bit about how to break in athletic shoes.

Layer the socks. Try wearing a minimum of 2 pairs of socks and then put the shoes on. Walk around as much as you can. It is important that you stay to a walk with this method as opposed to running. The socks will assist in stretching the materials to give your feet a bit more room to wiggle. When you do go back to a single pair of socks, you will easily be able to tell the difference.

Speed the process up with a hair dryer. Use a hair dryer that is set to low heat, and let it blow over your shoes before you put them on. You can then use the layered sock approach, or if they are still too tight, you can just walk around in them for a bit. The dryer’s heat will make the material a bit softer, which will also make for easier stretching. This method can lead to the shoes being more comfortable immediately.

Massage the shoes. You might want to do this before you go for your first run in them. Focus on those pressure points that can affect you more. These might include the sides and the heels. Bend the shoes to give them flexibility and stretch.

If you take these steps to break your athletic shoes in, you will be back to comfortably running soon. Some people might be of the opinion that proper running shoes should not cause you pain and should fit properly from the moment you purchase them. However, that isn’t necessarily an option for all people due to things like arch height, foot size, and shape.

It is possible to find the ideal shoe, but you might still need to break it in. As opposed to just going out and getting blisters, use the tricks listed above to gain comfort. Eventually, those new shoes will fit perfectly.

Breaking in Dress Shoes

Casual and dress shoes tend to be different in a lot of ways from athletic shoes. They tend to be made from materials that are more easily stretched. Typically, they are also easier when it comes to breaking them in when compared to athletic shoes, and you won’t need to wear them too much to get the process complete.

If you have finally found that perfect pair of shoes to wear out on the town, or even just to work, you don’t need to suffer when you wear them. Did you know that you can actually cause yourself to have foot issues from dancing in shoes that are too tight? Just because shoes look good, that doesn’t mean that they will be comfortable.

Let’s talk about a few ways that you can break those shoes in quickly. Most of these tips will work overnight. You will rarely need to repeat them with the same shoes too. Once shoes have been stretched, there is no reason for them to shrink back again.

Shoe stretching liquids. There are quite a few popular products on the market that can assist with stretching out those dress shoes. You can find shoe stretching sprays nearly everywhere they sell shoes, as this is one of the most common types. Shoe stretching liquids, such as Kiwi SELECT Universal Shoe Stretch, are meant to be sprayed right on the shoes. It will work on materials such as:

  • Reptile skin
  • Nu-buck
  • Suede
  • Leather

This is also something that will be safe regardless of the color of the shoes. You won’t need to buy different types for different color shoes. One spray will work great on quite a large variety of shoes. This is a product that is simple to use. All you have to do is shake it, spray it over the entire shoe, and then put your feet in the shoes.

This type of stretching liquid will make it easier for the shoes to mold to your feet. You won’t even need to walk much or wiggle your feet around for it to work. You can just sit down and allow the spray to stretch the shoes naturally in order for them to fit better.

Stretching sprays are designed to work really quickly. However, if the material of the shoes is thick, you might need to apply it more than once.

Shoe Stretching Devices. Often, people will use stretching devices right along with the stretching liquid. Devices like FootFitter Premium 2 Way Stretcher are meant to be left in the shoes while you aren’t wearing them. Just leave them in the shoes once you have adjusted them to suit your needs. Some of them will stretch the shoes from the front to the back, while others will stretch them from one side to the other. The FootFitter one does both simultaneously.

A lot of these stretchers also have bunion plugs. You can place them wherever you need to. They will assist in adding a bit of additional room in those spots, so that your shoes won’t rub there.

Devices meant to stretch shoes work well all on their own. However, they will work even better when you use the stretching liquid first. You can use these devices as many times as you need to, but you will probably notice a difference after a single night.

Certain types of materials that shoes are made from will not be as easy to stretch as others. You can always use the stretching liquid to assist you when it comes to determining if the materials will work with the devices. Materials such as suede and leather tend to stretch very quickly. Often, dress shoes are made from these materials, so it is likely that a shoe stretcher might get a lot of use if you tend to buy a lot of dress shoes.

Devices that stretch shoes are quite practical. You might use them as many times as necessary. They are easily stored, and you can even take them on trips with you. Additionally, they will work for more than your new dress shoes. At times, shoes we have had for years may need to be stretched a bit. It might be because they never fit comfortably, or because your feet have changed through the years. Even some of your older shoes can be effectively stretched with these.

Other Methods

There are also quite a few DIY methods to stretch your shoes to break them in to avoid blisters. You might not be able to alter the size of the shoes totally, but these techniques might just give you the wiggle room you need. The goal is for the shoes to fit comfortably and to avoid the risk of painful rubbing and blisters. Additionally, you might already have these things at home.

Ice. Fill a couple of small, sealable bags with some water and put them into your shoes. If you want to be sure they don’t leak, double up on them. Once you have done that, put the shoes right in the freezer. Water expands as it freezes, and this type of slow process can naturally stretch the shoes. Leave them in your freezer until the next day. When you take them from the freezer, allow the ice to melt before removing the bags from your shoes. Voila! New shoes that are more comfortable!

Stuff the shoes. You might try stuffing your new shoes with something like crumpled up newspaper overnight. Just push whatever you use down into the toe box to give it a decent stretch. This will work really well when you use this method along with a stretching liquid, but you don’t always need the liquid.

Rubbing alcohol. You might want to try spraying a little alcohol on the insides of new shoes that are a bit snug and then wear a pear of thick socks with the shoes to stretch them. Be sure that you perform a spot test first though before you use this method. Some shoe materials won’t react well with the alcohol and it might cause some discoloration. Most materials should be fine. This method can be used multiple times.

Preventing the Blisters that can be Caused by New Shoes

Even though new shoes are fun, they can also be more than a bit uncomfortable… even when they are the correct size. Aside from the methods to stretch them that we just talked about, there are a few other things that you might try in order to lessen the amount of discomfort you can feel when you wear them. They include:

Stretching your ankles and feet. Just hold your foot and then bend it back and forth right at your ankle several times a day once you take your shoes off.

Make sure that your toenails are clipped correctly. If you have toenails that are too long and shoes that are too tight, the combination can wreak havoc on your poor toes.

Get foot massages. You might do this yourself or have it done professionally. Foot soaks with Epsom salt can also be helpful when it comes to getting your feet relaxed. You might also want to invest in a massager machine or an electric foot spa.

New shoes don’t always have to be painful. By using the tips above, you can enjoy them even more.


  1. Youtube, How to Break in New Shoes
  2. Verily, 5 Simple Steps to Break in New Shoes Without the Pain
  3. Bustle, 7 Ways to Break in New Shoes Without Hurting Your Feet
  4. Wall Street Journal, How to Make New Shoes Feel Comfortable