We’ve all done it–bought shoes and completely forgot until it was too late that brand new shoes HURT if worn for long periods of time.
Don’t let the excitement of your wedding day, or other special event, be marred by pain and blisters. Here is how to break in new shoes before the big day, as well as which techniques you may want to avoid.
How to Break in New Shoes the Safe Way
Wear the shoes for progressively longer periods of time.
A few hours wear around the house will certainly help. But most experts recommend a longer break-in period, especially if you are not accustomed to wearing the type of shoe you’ve chosen.
Think of it as preparing for a marathon. Begin training in short bursts and gradually work up to the full distance. Your “full distance” will be the time it takes to get to the event, have a blast, and get home. Or, if you are a bride, for the ceremony, reception, and any activities after.
Techniques that have helped others include these how-to tips:
- Gradually break in your new shoes by wearing them around the house. Walk in them off and on for three or four weeks.
- For an even better breaking in, start by wearing the shoes an hour at a time while you complete light chores inside. (Avoid the outdoors; you don’t want to soil the shoes.)
- When the shoes are comfortable after an hour’s wear, begin keeping them on until they hurt.
- Gradually increase the time over a month until you can wear your shoes for several hours with no blisters.
Make the Shoes More Comfortable
Add extra padding where needed.
As you break in the shoes, you may find certain areas are a bit more uncomfortable or rub against your foot. In this case, you can add extra support or cushioning:
- If your heel slips, add back of heel cushions inside the shoe.
- For more comfort at the balls of your feet or soles, buy cushioned insoles.
- Use bunion pads or gel dots to relieve chafing in specific areas.
- If the shoe is too tight around, consider using a shoe stretcher on it.
Ways to Break in New Shoes Fast
What about applying heat or cold, or rubbing something into the shoe to make it stretch?
There are other ways to make your shoes more pliable or stretch them out a bit where they are too snug. But consider the risks before taking any of the following actions.
These may be quicker than gradually getting the shoes accustomed to your feet, but there is more danger of disaster. Especially if they are your WEDDING shoes that must look pristine, not sneakers that will quickly get scuffed anyway.
Be careful with these methods …
Use a blow dryer.
The idea behind this method is to stretch the shoes with your feet in them (as opposed to with a stretcher) so they better mold to your unique foot shape. First put on some thick socks, then wedge your foot into the shoes and walk around to figure out where they are the tightest.
Blow hot air on those areas to loosen the shoes. Walk around some more until the shoes are cool. Voilà, the shoes are instantly broken in.
Unless the shoes are made from a meltable material, in which case it can mean instant disaster.
Use rubbing alcohol.
Some people swear by rubbing alcohol as a way to quickly stretch shoes. Saturate thick socks in the areas that correspond to the tight places on your shoes before putting on the shoes, then walk around until the socks dry. There are also special shoe-stretching sprays that could be used instead.
I’m interested to know if this works, as I cannot think of any risk involved with the approach, beyond accidentally spilling the alcohol all over the shoes and staining them.
Use a microwave.
A variation on the blow dryer method is to put the shoes in the microwave for about 15 seconds to soften them up (instead of blowing hot air) before fitting them over your sock-thickened feet.
Great idea. Unless those shoes have hidden metal, in which case they will spark, possibly creating scorch marks.
Use an oven instead of a microwave.
An oven would avoid the problem with hidden metal, but you are back to the melting issue.
At least with a blow dryer you can see the melt when it begins and stop while there is still minimal damage.
When water freezes it expands. So if you fill your shoes with water and put them in the freezer they will stretch overnight as the ice pushes from the insides of the shoes.
To accomplish this, pour enough water into two freezer bags so they will fill your shoes. Press out all the air from the bags before sealing them (otherwise the water will expand up into the air space instead of out against the shoe). Then place bags in shoes and shoes in freezer.
The next morning, take them out of the freezer and let thaw until the ice has melted enough to pull the bags out of the shoes.
This method has potential. Unless your particular shoes don’t stretch when cold and, with nowhere to expand, the water pushes the bag open. Or one of your bags has a slow leak. In either case, the shoes end up wet and perhaps water stained.
The bottom line: Plan ahead for your special day. Break in your new shoes gradually, to stretch them naturally. Add cushioning for comfort. And if you do have to break those heels in fast, be extra careful!