By N. Ferrell
Stretching Shoes to Your Comfortability
Finding the perfect pair of shoes has always been difficult for me. It is either the style I am uncertain about or the comfortablity. I, like many others, have purchased a pair of shoes that seemed to fit right while in the store but once arriving home you come to find out they are a bit too snug or your toe slams to the front of your shoe! No good for chasing babies around the house or for working. I've come to find a few ways to help my shoes fit better and offer them to friends with oddly shaped feet or a habit such as my own.
My first tip would be to wear your new shoes around the house as much as possible. This way you aren't wearing them while you are out of the house and unable to change them when your feet get tired. I usually put new shoes on while cooking, cleaning or doing laundry at home to wear them in. This is a sure and trusted method of breaking in new shoes, especially nicer dress shoes you may not want to wear out. Wearing your shoes for 10 minuets at a time for a few days will help break them in more gradually.
A second tip I've come across is to freeze them! Now, I know this sounds counter productive, but just give me a moment to explain!
Fill two sandwich bags halfway full of water, making sure they are big enough so they will be able to put pressure on the shoes as it expands in the freezer. Remove all excess air and place into your shoes, wrap the shoes in another plastic bag, and put into the freezer. It can take 3-4 hours, but I have left shoes in overnight. When the water inside the shoe freezes it expands, putting pressure inside of the shoe and essentially breaking them in. I like this method because the water actually conforms to the shoe perfectly, applying pressure where needed. After the water freezes and you feel you've waited long enough, take the shoes out of the freezer and its bag. It may take some defrosting to get the baggies of water out but once the shoes have warmed up a bit they are ready to walk in.
Another opposite direction to go is a heat method. Take your shoes and stretch them out by hand, bending the tops back and forth. Afterwards, take a blow dryer and blast it with heat! Heating the shoe will expand the material, especially leather. Heat for 2-3 minutes and put back on, allowing them to comform to your feet. Repeat this method once or twice more until comfortable. If you are not finding this heat method helpful, try putting a sock on, then the shoe and heat. Sometimes I find doing this right before an outting is beneficial as well.
Other methods include purchasing a shoe stretcher, a dried potato over night, wet newspaper, stretching spray, or going to a professional cobbler.
Some methods you should be wary of: rubbing alcohol on certain materials, hitting the shoes, or a buddy with larger feet than you. The last is important because these are your shoes for your feet, not theirs.