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Shoes too small - how to stretch them? 9 practical ways


Did you buy the perfect pumps on a promotion, which after trying them on turned out to be too tight? Or maybe after giving birth your favorite leather ballerinas are painfully tight? If you're thinking of giving away or selling shoes that are too small, read our article first! We suggest how to stretch your shoes by home means, and when it's worthwhile to use the help of professionals.

Stretching shoes  is it worth it?

I don't think anyone needs to be convinced that wearing shoes that are too tight is not the best idea. Shoes that are too small cause the tips of the toes to constantly bump against the front of the shoe, ending in painful abrasions and corns. But that's not the end of potential trouble! One of the most common consequences of wearing shoes that are too tight is the development of a hallux valgus, or hallux toe. This is a foot deformity that very often requires surgical treatment. Wearing tight shoes can also end up with arthritis. To the question of whether it's a good idea to wear tight shoes, the answer is no, regardless of age (although it's especially dangerous in adolescence).  This does not mean, however, that shoes that are too small are only suitable for throwing away. Not only is it unprofitable, it's also environmentally unfriendly. Before you get rid of your shoes, check if there is a possibility of stretching them.

Too tight shoes in the toe? There are ways to do it!

1. New inserts

Do you feel a slight pressure when you put on your shoes? Try replacing the insoles with thinner ones. You will find quite a few suggestions on the market, including ultra-thin ones. If the shoe is minimally too tight, a quick swap of insoles should solve the problem!

2. Moistened socks

This is one of the easiest and most popular ways to stretch tight shoes. Wet your socks and put them on your feet (you will get the best results if you choose thicker socks made of terry cloth). Then put the shoes on your feet and wear for 30-40 minutes. The shoe should stretch gently. If necessary, repeat the procedure.

3. Newspaper balls

Do you have old newspapers at home (or at least advertising newspapers from neighborhood stores in your mailbox)? Don't throw them away! They can come in handy for stretching shoes. Crumple the torn sheets into balls, moisten them with water and put them inside your shoes to effectively stretch them. Leave the balls in the shoe for 24 hours. You can use spirit instead of water, but be careful, as alcohol can leave unsightly discolorations on the shoe.

4. Freezing

Do you have bags for freezing food at home? You can use them in a slightly different way! Pour water inside (without filling the entire bag) and put in the shoes you want to stretch in length or width. Then put the shoes in the freezer overnight on the top shelf. The water will freeze, turning into ice and begin to stretch the leather. Be careful to pull the shoes out at the right time to avoid cracking the leather.

5. Hammer

New shoes bruise heels? Try to break them gently with a hammer, hitting the back of the shoe several times. If you're worried that you might damage the leather, protect the shoe with a cloth before you start pummeling. Note: The patent with a hammer is not suitable for smashing lacquered shoes.

6. Steam

Pour 1 liter of water into a pot and bring it to a boil. Put out the fire and hold your shoes over the steam rising from the pot for a while, then put them on your feet and take a short walk around the house in them.

7. Special preparations for stretching shoes

How to stretch shoes in the toe? On the market you can find many preparations for stretching shoes in the form of foam or spray. Before applying them, read the instructions for use to avoid the risk of irreparable damage to the shoe. Usually it is enough to apply an appropriate amount of the preparation in the areas that cause excessive pressure, and then put the shoes on the feet and walk in them for a specified period of time (usually half an hour to an hour). Stretch preparations soften the natural leather, making it more flexible.

8. Shoe trees

As recently as 20 years ago, wooden shoe trees could be found in almost every home. Although today this accessory is no longer so popular, in shoe stores online or in stationary stores you can find shoe stretchers made of wood (adjustable) or plastic and metal. How do they work? They make it possible to adjust the shoes to the foot and stretch the shoes in specific places. They also allow you to avoid deformation of your shoes. So if you want your half-boots or boots to keep the same shape throughout their life, you can put in the rights and leave them on for the entire spring and summer season. How do you stretch your shoes to the width on a last? Wet a thick sock and put it on the lasts. Then put the righthandle into the shoe and leave it there overnight. Check if the shoe is properly stretched. If not, repeat the operation.

9. A visit to the cobbler

Afraid that home methods won't work or will damage your shoes? Take your shoes to a shoemaker. The cobbler will assess where the shoe needs stretching. It is worth remembering that the effect depends, among other things, on what material the shoe was made of. The most susceptible to stretching is, of course, natural leather, which is characterized by high elasticity. The cobbler for stretching uses specialized instruments that do not damage the shoes. If you leave your shoes in the hands of a professional, he may even stretch your shoes by one size!

How to stretch plastic shoes?

Remember that not every shoe can be stretched! If you buy leather shoes, you can expect them to stretch gently, but for shoes made of textile or plastic, the stretching techniques presented above may not have the desired result. If the plastic shoes you bought turned out to be too small, you can use the patent from:

  • with a moist sock;
  • newspaper;
  • steam.

You can also take your shoes to a cobbler (but don't expect spectacular results, as plastic is not as flexible as natural leather). Unfortunately, plastic tends to return to its original shape. If you don't regularly wear stretched shoes, after some time you may find that the stretching treatments have to be done again.

Sport shoes how to stretch them safely?

Sports shoes should fit well, this is obvious to all sports fans. However, it is worth remembering that during physical activity the foot moves forward, pushing against the front of the shoe. Toe shoes that are too tight can cause painful abrasions and blisters. So when buying athletic shoes, it's worth remembering that the foot should have more slack. Can running shoes that are too small be stretched? If your choice is leather shoes, there's a good chance you can make them slightly wider for more comfortable wear. One of the safest ways to stretch athletic shoes is the patent with thick socks. If you want to speed up the stretching process, you can, after putting the shoes on your feet, direct a stream of hot air from a hair dryer at them. However, the best results will come from professional shoe breaking at a shoemaker's shop.

How to avoid buying shoes that are too tight?

If you buy shoes online, be sure to pay attention not only to the size, but also to the length of the insole. This will help you avoid doubts such as "How is it possible that some shoes in the same size are good on me, and others are too tight?". You should be aware that shoes of the same size, purchased from two different manufacturers, may differ in the length of the insole (even by a few-something millimeters). Another important parameter is the shoe's stance. In the Filippo store, each shoe has a designation of the shoe's stiffness. For more information on what is the shoe's width tightness and how to measure it, you can find on our blog. However, you don't have to buy shoes online to choose a size that is too small. Buying in stationary stores not infrequently ends up with taking home oversized ballerinas or too-small half-shoes. This is especially true for women who wear smaller popular sizes and don't have as many options for cut or color. So to minimize the risk of buying shoes that are too small, it's a good idea to set aside enough time for shopping. Doing shopping (not only for shoes) without time pressure allows you to avoid reckless spending.

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