Breaking in shoes is the usually painful process of getting a new pair of shoes to fit your feet. Without a break-in period, many shoes can cause blisters, corns and calluses. But how much time should it take for your shoes and your feet to get along? The short answer is none. Properly fitting shoes should not need a break-in period.
So why do your new shoes still hurt?
Because they don’t fit properly on your foot…yet. How long it takes to break them in may depend on what the shoe is made of and your own personal breaking-in techniques.
For men, the main complaint is pain in upper toes. Women report more pain around the heel and ball of the foot. Shoes that are made to be more flexible can feel like they’ve already been through a few days of breaking-in before your first wear.
If your new shoes are a pain, here are a few ways to break them in:
• Wear them around. This tried-and-true method may be a little more painful than some but it’s the easiest and gentlest way to break in a pair of shoes. Start by wearing your new shoes on 10-minute walks around the house, then increase the time throughout the day. Do as much activity as you can within that time frame. Your ultimate goal is to keep them on for the entire day without pain. You can also add socks to help stretch the shoe a bit more. Take the shoes off if they start to rub or hurt and wait a little while before putting them on again.
• Put something else in your shoe. If it hurts to put your foot in your shoe, why not use something else to stretch them a bit? There are many suggestions on what to put in your shoe to help it stretch. Whether you go for the potato, frozen bag, or jar technique, they all take an overnight stay to work.
• Stretch at home. Try shoe stretchers. Put these in your shoes overnight and wake up to roomier shoes.
• Get some professional help. If you’re not up to doing it yourself, take your shoes to a cobbler. After spraying shoes with a stretching solution, they place them in a stretching machine. This can be done in just a few hours and usually for less than $20.
Wall Street Journal: “Why Do New Shoes Have to Hurt?”
California Podiatric Medical Association: “Why A Podiatrist?”
Podiatry Today: “Foot Blister Prevention”
Medline Plus: “Foot Injuries and Disorders”