While a great new pair of high heels may make your legs look amazing, the results of wearing shoes that are too tight — corns, bunions, hammertoes and calluses — are anything but attractive. Shoes that pinch are no picnic for men, either, and can make a day on your feet feel like murder. Once you’ve invested your hard-earned cash in a pair of leather shoes that are too snug, the only sensible thing to do is to stretch them out.
Professional shoe shops have machines that quickly and easily stretch your shoes out for you. Using a combination of heat and pressure, this equipment will ease the fit for you in length or width or both. The fee is normally nominal and you’ll have a pair of shoes that are wearable immediately. Alternatively, you can purchase a manual, two-way wooden shoe stretcher for use at home that allows you to stretch your shoes in either direction by applying internal pressure.
Liquid shoe-stretching sprays are manufactured just for this purpose. Simply spray the inside of your shoe — entirely or in spots — and then put on your shoes and wear them around the house for about an hour. Repeating the process for shoes that are still too snug will allow you to stretch them further. Stuffing your shoes with wet balls of newspaper is another option to stretch them. Allow the shoes to sit until they dry and then try them on. The combination of the water and the pressure from the newspaper should adjust the fit.
Heat is a useful element when it comes to stretching leather. Direct the heat from your hairdryer onto your leather shoes until they’re toasty warm. Then place your feet in the shoes, preferably while wearing a thick pair of socks, and wear them around the house for an hour or so. Take your socks off and check the fit. You can also microwave your shoes for 15 to 20 seconds and wear them once they’re warm to stretch them.
Many people swear by using ice to stretch leather shoes for a comfier fit. Don’t fill your fine leather shoes with ice cubes, however. Instead, fill two baggies about halfway up with water and close them securely. Insert them into your shoes and ensure that they fill the shoe area completely. Place your shoes in the freezer and allow the water in the bags to freeze solid. Remove the shoes from the freezer, allow the ice to melt in the bags and enjoy your newly stretched shoes.
References and ResourcesAmerican Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: Tight Shoes and Foot Problems
VIP Shoe Restorers: Shoe Stretching
Shoe Stretcher Guide: Try a Shoe Stretcher Spray
The Observer; How to Stretch Tight Shoes; Sian Berry; August 23, 2009