There are times when I felt a shoe fits perfectly when trying it out in the store only to feel uncomfortable wearing it when I reach home. Dealing with this issue can be quite frustrating. Do I get it replaced? Or can I widen it to get a better fit? I often get torn between these two choices.
The first few times, I just took it to the store and got it a size up. But then the shoe felt too big and clunky. After going back and forth a couple of times, I realized that widening it was the only way to go. Thankfully, there is not one, but several ways to get it done.
I started out by using a shoe stretcher and a couple of times, it worked wonders. But over time, I branched out and started experimenting with many homebrew solutions like using potatoes or freezing the shoe in the freezer. Needless to say, I ruined a lot of shoes.
But the few methods that did work gave me enough ideas on how to widen my shoes like a pro in no time. In this article, I will share my knowledge on widening shoes that are too narrow so that you can have an easier time finding the perfect size of the shoe.
What Happens If You Wear Shoes That Are Too Narrow?
I never condone wearing a pair of shoes that do not fit you perfectly. If it is too tight, there are ways to fix that. And if worst comes to worst, you could always get a replacement from the store where you bought it.
Turns out, there are many health issues that can happen if you keep wearing shoes that are too narrow for your feet.
- The most obvious problem is the constant discomfort and aching. Since a narrow pair of shoes will apply a lot of pressure on your feet, you will feel its effect long after you take it off.
- Blisters or aggressive foot deformities like bunions or hammertoe can also happen if you frequently wear tight or narrow shoes. In extreme cases, you might have to resort to medications and physical therapy for pain relief
- The worst effect of wearing narrow feet might be the long-term loss of cartilage in foot joints and toes. You should always wear the proper size of shoe that is comfortable for your feet.
- An indirect effect of wearing tight shoes is loss of temper and productivity. Since you are always distracted by that sharp pain in your feet, it is natural that you would want to go home and take it off as soon as you can instead of focusing on your work.
Seven Ways to Widen Shoes That Are Too Narrow
Just because your shoe feels tight or small, doesn’t mean you have to throw it out or just live with it. There are, in fact, a few simple and proven ways you can widen it yourself at home. And a lot of the methods will not even cost you a dime.
However, you need to know your way around shoes to get it right the first time. So, before expecting ground-breaking results from the methods I’m about to mention, experiment with a couple of garbage-ready shoes to get a feel for this job.
Here are a few simple tricks that I, myself, use from time to time if I need to widen a pair of shoes that is too narrow:
1. Wear it often
By simply wearing your tight shoes frequently, you can stretch it out. This is mostly done with leather shoes since leather can expand over time. If the shoe feels just a little tight and uncomfortable, wearing it around the house for one or two hours daily should make it more comfortable.
However, if the shoe is too tight, move on to the next method. The last thing you want is to subject yourself to punishment just to stretch out your shoe. Remember, this trick only works for leather shoes. Other fabrics might not respond well to this trick.
2. Socks and blow dryer trick
Another neat way to widen shoes that are too narrow is to wear a pair of thick socks. Then wear the shoe and tie up the laces as comfortably as you can. Try to feel out the sections where it feels too tight. If the size of the shoe is right, then it should only feel tight around the middle part.
Then you want to take a blow dryer and set it to medium heat. Apply the dryer directly to the tight area of the shoe for not more than thirty seconds. It should stretch out the shoe enough to make it a lot more comfortable to wear. You should apply a bit of leather conditioner after stretching it using this method.
3. Freeze it in a zipper bag
The hairdryer trick might work well with leather shoes, but for non-leather boots, it might not be the best way to go. In that case, I like to use the freezing technique. All you need for this trick to work is an air-tight zip-close bag and a bit of water.
Take the bag and fill it with water halfway. Then you want to place the bag inside the shoe. Position the bag as close as you can to the tight spot of the shoe. Place your shoe in the freezer and let it freeze overnight. Since the water inside the bag will freeze, it will force the shoe to stretch in the process.
4. Potato peel method
For a modest amount of stretch, you can use a potato. Yes, I know how it sounds, but hear me out. Since it is easy to mold the potato into the desired shape, you can use it to break in your shoe without wearing it the whole day. In principle, it is the same as the first method I talked about.
Take a potato and try to mold it into the shape of the front part of your toe, or as close as you can get it. Then put it inside the shoe pushing it towards the front part. Use paper or towels to stuff the rest of the shoe so that the potato stays in place. Leave it overnight and by morning, you should notice a decent amount of stretch in your shoe.
5. Adjustable shoe trees
If you do not mind a bit of investment, adjustable shoe trees might be the best way to get the stretch you need from your shoes. These shoe trees come with a special design to target specific areas of the shoe. So, you can easily widen specific points according to your situation.
Besides, adjustable shoe trees also can be used as a great way to store your shoes. You should always store your shoes in shoe trees when you are not wearing them. That way, the shape and rigidity of the shoe remain intact, which can increase its durability by a long margin.
6. Shoe stretcher method
You could also use a shoe stretcher tool to widen shoes that are too narrow. If the calves of your feet are causing size issues, then this might be the best way to stretch it out.
Shoe stretchers can also come in the form of spray bottles or liquids these days. Just apply a bit of the solution to the tight area and leave it overnight.
7. Take it to a luthier
If all else fails, you could always take your shoe to a professional to get it custom fit according to your size. Sure, it might cost a bit more, but after the repair, the shoe should feel extremely comfortable and snug.
This is what I do if the shoe is expensive or when I feel too lazy to stretch it out myself. The best part about taking your shoe to a professional shoe smith is that he can reinforce the stitching to further enhance the quality and durability of the shoe if you want it.
Pro Tip: Always try to make sure your shoe fits perfectly when trying it out in the store. Remember, leather shoes typically have a tighter fit before you break them in by wearing them regularly. Do not confuse a snug fit with a tight fit. A snug shoe should start to feel comfortable after one or two times of wearing.
Wrapping It Up
If you care about your health and comfort, make sure your shoes fit you perfectly. There is absolutely no reason to force yourself to wear a pair of shoes that does not feel good. take the initiative and widen it yourself. You will be only making the experience better for yourself.
The handy tips and tricks I mentioned should help you out in this regard. So whether you are wearing leather boots in the rain, or taking a gentle stroll on a sunny afternoon, you will not have to worry about any foot aches due to wearing an ill-fitted shoe. Good luck!