How to Break in Your New Shoes

How to Break in Your New Shoes

As it says over on the Pavers Comfort Hub, the perfect shoe is one that strikes the right balance between comfort, fit and style. And if your feet are feeling uncomfortable after wearing your lovely new pair, maybe you’re fretting that they’re not the perfect shoe after all?

If this is the case, don’t fret. We’re on hand (or should we say foot?) to help you break in your new shoes.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide to breaking in new shoes:

  • Why you might need to be breaking in new shoes
  • Methods & tips to break in your new shoes
  • How to choose the right shoe size from the start

Why You Might Need to be Breaking into New Shoes

Breaking in new shoes is a crucial step to ensure comfort and long-term wear viability. Shoes, especially those made from rigid materials like leather or certain synthetics, can be stiff and inflexible right out of the box. This stiffness can cause discomfort, restrict natural foot movement, and lead to blisters and soreness, especially when the shoes are rubbing your heel. The breaking-in process gradually moulds the shoes to the unique shape of your feet, creating a custom fit that enhances comfort and reduces the risk of injury.

Methods and Tips to Break in Your New Shoes

The tips in this section cover a few bases, and we’re confident that the vast majority of stubborn shoes will feel much comfier and cosier after working your way through the list!

1. Wear Them Around the House

One of the best ways to break in new shoes is simple: wear them more. This will give them a chance to get accustomed to your feet, and to gradually become less stiff.

Often the advice is to wear your new shoes indoors rather than outdoors when you’re breaking them in. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • Prevents damage and scuffing: carpet, laminate flooring and other indoor surfaces are much gentler on shoes, reducing the risk of scuffing them or causing too much wear.
  • You can still return them! Following from the above, shoes that have only been worn indoors are unlikely to have any evidence of damage or wear that would mean you can’t return them for a refund or exchange.
  • No risk of getting stranded: if shoes start hurting you while you’re breaking them in outdoors, you’re a bit stuck unless you have another pair. At home though you can take them off as soon as they start hurting, giving them a break and nipping soreness in the bud.

2. Wear Thick Socks

While it might seem counterintuitive to reduce the available space inside the shoe, thick socks can actually act as padding between your skin and the interior surface that’s causing problems. Socks also push against the shoe, potentially stretching them out a little.

Some people recommend wearing two pairs of socks, thin nylons with a thick pair over the top, to let the feet move within the shoe without causing friction and soreness.

3. Pay Attention to Where They’re Sore

If you notice soreness while breaking in a new pair of shoes, keep an eye out for the exact spots it’s occurring. This can give insight into the particular parts of the shoe that are tight and may help to diagnose and resolve the problem (see steps 6 and 7 for more).

4. Put Plasters on Sore Spots

It won’t do anything to change the size or fit of the shoe, but putting plasters on sore spots of your feet will reduce soreness and pain. Specialist blister plasters are great for this: they’re designed to protect vulnerable spots from further friction, preventing a blister from getting out of control.

5. Go Easy on Your Feet!

Again, it won’t change the shape or fit of the shoe, but this is possibly the most important step. Go easy on your feet. There's no use continuing to wear a shoe that’s causing you loads of pain and discomfort: take a break, switch to another pair, and either go back to breaking the new pair in once you’re feeling better or take it as a sign that you need to try something else.

6. Use a Shoe Stretcher

Shoe Stretcher

If the methods above aren’t having a noticeable impact and you’re looking for something else to try, a shoe stretcher could be just the ticket. These purpose-built contraptions are designed to stretch a shoe to the shape of your foot.

Here’s how it’s done:

  • First you position the special pieces around the stretcher to match the shape of your foot as closely as possible.
  • Then you insert the stretcher into the shoe and use the handles to expand it, applying pressure to the inside of the shoe.
  • When the pressure is visible from the outside you stop, then leave it to work its magic for at least 24 hours.
  • For best results we recommend attempting to stretch a shoe when it’s damp

7. Use Temperature

You can also try extremes of temperature to break in a stubborn shoe:

Heat Them Up

Pop on a pair of thick socks and put your shoes on. Then grab a hair dryer and blow hot air on the tight areas of the shoe, making sure to wiggle your toes and flex your feet as you do this to move the material. Leave the shoes on while the material cools down (if it’s comfortable to do so), as this will help the changes to take effect.

Freeze Them

You can also use cold to stretch your shoes, although here it’s the expansion of the water rather than the temperature itself that does the work. Put a Ziploc bag of water inside each shoe (taking care that it won’t leak!) and pop them in the freezer: as the temperature drops and the water freezes, it will expand and put pressure on the shoes from the inside, hopefully stretching them out.

How to Choose the Right Shoe Size from the Start

  • Whether or not you’ve realised your shoes are too small and can’t be broken in, it’s good to know how to choose the right size shoe in the first place.

  • Measure your feet: the shoe size people have in mind when buying shoes most commonly refers to length, but we advise getting your foot width measurement as well. This will help you to buy shoes that are long and wide enough.

  • Try the shoes on: try to avoid buying shoes you’ve not tried on, as often this will provide an early indication that something isn’t quite right. You can also get help from a member of staff to find the right fit. Take a look at our store finder to find your nearest branch of Pavers!

  • Shop in the afternoon: our feet expand throughout the day, so we always recommend shoe shopping in the afternoon to get a shoe that fits your feet when they’re at their natural biggest.

  • Try them on with the socks you normally wear: trying on a shoe wearing thin socks when you usually wear thick socks will give you misleading information about how good the fit is. Try to wear the closest approximation to your ‘regular’ sock configuration when trying on shoes.

Breaking in is Never Easy

Realising your nice new shoes aren’t quite as comfortable as you thought they were is never an easy moment. But hopefully this guide has shown you that there may be hope yet. Breaking in shoes is usually very effective: once they’ve had time to soften and accommodate to the unique shape of your foot, shoes that initially caused discomfort and even blistering can go on to become paragons of comfort.

If you do find that you can’t break a pair in, we’re here to help you find the next pair. Visit our shoe store to explore our extensive collection of comfortable lightweight shoes. Our commitment to combining fit and style with world-class customer service ensures that every customer finds their ideal pair.