The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

How to Break in New Shoes

Posted by on Thursday, March 8th, 2012


It’s happened to everyone. You get a brand new pair of shoes and you’re so excited to wear them for the first time. Maybe you put together a special outfit and wear them to a big occasion. Instead of feeling awesome in your new shoes, though, every step hurts, and it just gets worse and worse. Suddenly you’re looking for any moment when you can surreptitiously slip them off your feet; when it comes time to put them back on again, your heart sinks a little. By the time you get home, your feet are covered with blisters and red spots where the shoe scraped your skin raw. It’s going to be a while before you can put them back on again–not that you want to, considering how bad they made you feel.

Let’s say that you know the shoes are the right size (remember: always buy the right size shoe!). So what’s the problem? Well, your shoes are all new and stiff and they’re rubbing your feet in different places than some of your other shoes. You need to break those shoes in!

So what should you do? Here are some tips from the experts:

  • More Style Than Cash recommends softening up your your new shoes by wearing them around the house in the evening. Don’t walk around in them any more than necessary–just keep them on while you sit down to dinner or while you lounge around doing nothing but stare at your new shoes. As we’ve noted before, your feet swell during the day, so if you put your new shoes on at night, you’ll have them on when your feet are at their largest. Wearing them at home on a quiet night in will give the shoes a chance to stretch out a little bit to the shape of your foot while avoiding the unpleasant stiffness and rubbing you’d get while walking. A few days of this and when you finally go out, your new shoes will feel like, well, old shoes.
  • The Budget Fashionista agrees that wearing your shoes at home for a few days is a good idea, but takes it a step further, by suggesting wearing them with a pair of thicker than usual socks, to give a little extra stretch. For an even more extreme stretch, try this: Waterproof your new shoes if they’re not waterproof already, then soak your shoes in water for a two minutes (or wear them into a swimming pool). Then put them on with a pair of thick socks and wear them around until they’re dry (hey, who doesn’t want to bring that “I just stepped in a huge puddle” feeling home?). Be careful about doing this with really expensive shoes, though. That’s not the time to experiment.
  • If you’re more worried about that nasty rubbing on your heel from new shoes, consider getting heel liners to protect your skin. They’re cheap and easy to find at drugstores.
  • The Dandy Project has a really intriguing idea for breaking in leather shoes, if you’re a daring sort. Take petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline or your local store’s generic version) and rub it onto the stiff, dangerous, likely to cause pain spots of your shoes. Lay it on thick on the tough spots. Then take a curling iron that’s been heated up to high and press it onto the spots you’ve coated with petroleum jelly (quote: “If it sizzles, you’re doing it right.” Yikes!). Curl the shoe outward with the curling iron to mold it away from where the shoe would dig into your foot. Bend the shoe like you’re (or the shoe) is walking while you do this. Repeat a few times for each spot. Sounds interesting, but I’d caution you to test this method out on some less expensive shoes before you try it on the big “I just got my tax refund and I’m going to splurge” shoes.
  • For running shoes, the best thing to do is buy new ones before your old ones are completely destroyed. Start to break in your new ones by just walking around in them for a few days. If you alternate short runs with longer ones, then you can then wear your new ones for the short distances while still wearing your trusty older ones for the longer distances. After a few short runs in your new shoes, you’ll be ready to retire the old ones (sad as this may be–I sometimes have a hard time tossing out old shoes so I keep them around for things like walking my dog on those days when it’s not raining hard enough for boots, but it’s yucky enough that you don’t want to get new ones dirty and damp). Soon your new ones will be as comfortable as your favorite bunny slippers.

If you do hurt your feet with tough new shoes, or if you’re having any other kind of foot pain, contact us at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet.



If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.