Tips for Breaking in a New Pair of Shoes

A woman preparing to break in a new pair of shoes.

Adding a stylish new pair of shoes to your collection is the best, but breaking them in can be the worst. If you’ve ever suffered from sore spots, blistered ankles or tortured toes, you know how much of a nuisance the breaking-in process can be. So how can you find some relief while your shoes are getting acquainted with your feet? Below are five tips to help you break in those new shoes without putting your feet through the ringer.

1. Start off by wearing the shoes only for short spans of time.

Unless you want to guarantee yourself a heaping helping of foot torture, don’t try to wear your new shoes for the entire day at first. It’s much better to take the “short spurts” approach, where you only wear them for short spans of time, such as during a quick run to the store or some other type of simple errand. This will enable you to move around in the shoes enough to get them acclimated to your feet without doing too much damage.

2. Wear the shoes with thick socks.

Depending upon what kind of shoes they are, this fashion choice may limit you to wearing them around the house for a little while, but that’s okay. Using a nice pair of thick socks (or a double-layer of thinner ones), you can wear your new shoes while you’re tidying up around the house, doing laundry, watching a movie, etc. This will slowly but surely begin to stretch the shoes into their proper shape, all while keeping your feet protected from blistering and soreness.

3. Turn up the heat.

When you’re breaking in new shoes, sometimes you have to heat things up a bit. Heating your shoes can make the material more pliable and flexible so that it can more easily conform to the shape of your feet. One simple way to do this is to put the shoes on, and then use a blow dryer to apply heat to some of the tighter spots. Be sure not to put the blow dryer too close, so that the shoes won’t get damaged. Now after you have applied some of this blow dryer heat for a few minutes, walk around in the shoes for a little while to continue stretching and manipulating the material as they cool back down.

4. Take your shoes to a professional shoe stretcher.

Your local shoe repair shop will typically offer shoe stretching services as well. They use a spray-on solution and a specialized machine that will stretch your shoes in all the right places, usually for no more than about twenty bucks.

5. Fortify your feet.

When you first try to wear that new pair of flats, boots or heels, more than likely you will immediately notice the areas where they feel a little too tight or uncomfortable. Take note of those areas, and then fortify your feet accordingly. You can use small foam cushions or band-aids for padding around sensitive areas like the back of your heel, or you can apply some petroleum jelly or anti-chafing cream to vulnerable areas for protection.

When a new pair of shoes joins your footwear family, don’t put your feet through unnecessary torture. Use the tips above to properly break in those shoes, all while keeping your feet as pain-free as possible!