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The Best Way To Break In New Shoes, According To A Podiatrist

Image by Natalie JEFFCOTT / Stocksy
February 4, 2022

Whenever you get a new pair of shoes, there's an inevitable period of breaking them in that can be both frustrating and painful. But is there any way to make the process easier? To find out, we consulted a podiatrist, and here's what he had to say.

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Tips for safely & effectively breaking in new shoes:

1.

Break them in over the course of 5 days.

When we asked podiatrist Miguel Cunha, DPM, for his tips on breaking in shoes, he had a helpful method that can be remembered as the "2468 method."

It involves slowly breaking in your shoes over the course of five days: On the first day, wear your shoes for two hours, then four hours the next day. On the third day, you bump it up to six hours, then eight hours on the fourth day. And finally, on the fifth day, try wearing them all day long.

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2.

Try shoe molds.

If you want to break your shoes in without even wearing them, Cunha also suggests investing in some shoe molds that will fill and stretch your shoes while they're tucked away in your closest. You can take it a step further by putting thick socks over the molds as well, he adds.

3.

Use heat.

If you're breaking in leather shoes, Cunha notes you can use a blow dryer on tighter spots to help loosen the material. Put the shoes on with thick socks, and without getting too close, apply the heat to problem areas and walk around for a bit after they're warmed up. (Note: This should only be done with leather shoes—no synthetic materials.)

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4.

Use antiperspirant and/or Band-Aids at first.

Lastly, there's always the old standby of Band-Aids, as well as antiperspirant, Cunha tells mbg. Applying antiperspirant to the feet will help prevent sweating that can lead to friction (and subsequently, blisters), he explains. And of course, Band-Aids can cushion blisters should they arise.

Just remember, Cunha adds, this is more of a last-ditch effort option if you really need it. If your shoes are continuously causing problems after you've been wearing them for a while, they might not be the right fit.

Other tips to keep in mind:

1.

Make sure your shoes are appropriately sized.

One trick to ensure your shoes are the right size is to shoe shop in person in the late afternoon/evening, when feet are the most swollen. This will give you a better idea of the true fit, Cunha explains.

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2.

Go with comfort over fashion.

"Your shoe should accommodate your feet, not the other way around," Cunha tells mbg. As much as you may love your pointy-toed shoes or those thrifted sneakers that are just a bit too small, they're only going to hurt your feet in the long run. "The whole purpose of the shoe is to assist with your locomotion and walking, so comfort should always take precedence over fashion," he adds.

3.

Have your feet measured once in a while.

One might think that when they stop growing as a young adult, so do their feet. But according to Cunha, it's actually a good idea to get your feet measured every few years. "With time and age, your feet change shape. This happens especially with women as they age, and particularly after having children and in preparation for labor," he notes. The more you know!

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The bottom line.

In a perfect world, shoes would come already broken in—but unfortunately, a perfect world it is not. So, the next time you have a new pair of shoes to break in, make it easier on yourself (and your feet) with these tips. And of course, make sure your footwear fits properly to begin with!