Generally speaking, shoes must be comfortable from the word go. You shouldn’t put too much hope in an uncomfortable shoe getting better over time, no matter what the salesperson is telling you. But there are some isolated cases where you can increase a ped’s comfort level by altering the fit.

Here are your options:

  • Shoe stretching: Shoes can rub if they’re snug across part of your foot, like over a bunion. Shoe stretching often helps and is especially effective with  soft leather (patent and plastic shoes don’t stretch as well). Cobblers or Nordstrom can stretch an entire shoe or part of it at a price. It takes a couple of days and is well worth a try. Home shoe stretching kits are also available. The kit contains a hardwood stretcher with inserts (for extra spot stretching) and shoe stretch spray to permanently stretch tight shoes for a better fit.
  • Comfort inserts: Cushioning insoles make a shoe that is slightly too large a little smaller whilst adding oodles of comfort. I pop a cushioning insole into all my closed shoes and the ones I like best cost $1.50 at the drugstore. Heel grips can prevent shoes from slipping off your heel. I’ve stuck on two at a time to keep some of my shoes on my feet. Moleskin is useful to patch up rough spots on the inside of shoes. Footpetals provides a range of products that can help to prevent anything from aching heels and arches to the blisters caused by the straps of slingback sandals.
  • Custom made orthotics: Have orthotics tailor made for your feet to increase arch support. You can slip them into most closed shoes.
  • Calf-width alterations: Achieving the correct fit on a pair of knee high boots is hard when you have super slim calves. It’s pricey to have boots tapered, but sometimes worth the expense if the boots are comfortable in every other respect.

Don’t give up on a pair of shoes too soon. You might be able to doctor them so that they go the distance. I’ve learned that taking along an extra pair of insoles when I shop for shoes solves some fit issues instantly. Having the toe box stretched to accommodate my often squashed pinky toe has worked wonders. I also have clients who swear by their orthotics and home stretching kits.

Do you have your own shoe alteration tips to share?

Women's Low Heel Shoe Stretcher & Stretching Spray Heel Grips

Low heel shoe stretching kit and spray (left) and heel grips (right). It isn’t only new shoes that need doctoring. Making shoes last is especially important in tough economic times so keep taking those hard working peds back to the cobbler for re-soling, re-stitching and any other type of repair. It’s sure to put a skip back in your step.