New shoes are awesome, but not until after the first painful period of breaking them in. Here are the best tips for breaking in your new shoes with the minimum of gross blisters and hobbling.
Pre-emptive blister prevention
The worst thing about new shoes is probably the accompanying blisters, caused by rubbing between your shoes and your skin. To reduce blisters, you can rub petroleum jelly or antiperspirant on the problem areas before you wear your shoes, or tape up with bandaids or paper surgical tape (aka Micropore) first. If you’re not sure where the worst spots are going to be, wear the shoes around the house for an hour and you’ll find out.
Don’t make the mistake of leaving the house for a full action-packed day of running around in your brand new shiny shoes. You’ll thank me when you hit Hour 5 and your shoe isn’t filled with blister ooze and a dark maelstrom of regret. Break them in at home or at work (making sure you bring an alternative pair of shoes), where you can give up at any time.
Stretch them out
If tightness is the problem, you can try stretching your shoes out by sticking something bigger than your feet in them. Wearing your shoes with chunky socks is a classic (you can also try heating them gently with a hairdryer to get them to soften more).
If you’re a bit less patient and you have room in your freezer, you can try stretching out your shoes using ice. Fill two freezer bags with enough water to fit inside your shoe, tie them up (leave some space for them to expand), then fit them into your shoes. Seal the whole shebang up in a watertight bag and put them in your freezer overnight. As the ice freezes, it’ll expand and stretch out your shoes.
Alternatively you can put some chunky sock on some shoe shapers and jam them into your shoes for a few days. If you want to go really pro, you can take your shoes to a cobbler and get them stretched for you.
Other things to try
- Soaking your shoes in water or alcohol before stretching them – there’s a risk of ruining your shoes since both these dry out your shoes and cause cracks
- If you’re wearing heels, tape your third and fourth toes together to relieve nerve strain
- If your shoes are to be worn with socks, try wearing two pairs of socks – an inner pair that’s fitting and slippery (e.g. stockings) and an outer pair that’s normal. This transfers a lot of the blister-inducing rubbing to the socks.
What other tips do you have for breaking in shoes?
This post also contains affiliate links. For more information, see Disclosure Policy.