Sneakers make for a great fashion statement. But, for people with wide feet, sneakers can turn out to be troublesome and uncomfortable. Wide feet mean your feet require bigger room within the shoes for movement and flexibility. If your regular pair of sneakers fail to provide that room for movement, then your feet could turn into a disaster.
Most sneakers are not designed to be wide enough. But you can widen them by stretching the sneakers. However, you want to make sure you do it the right way for your wide feet. Else, you may end up spoiling the sneakers.
Therefore, we decided to help the folks with wide feet by suggesting some tips and hacks to stretch their sneakers for a comfortable fit and feel.
Signs that your shoes don’t fit well
If you know, most of the feet related problems are due to ill-fitting shoes. Somehow, we keep adjusting to these pair of shoes, thinking they will eventually break-in. In the process, we end up harming our feet.
Therefore, if you notice any signs that we have mentioned below with your shoes, consider getting them replaced or do not buy them at all. Here is what you should check for the shoes to fit correctly
- If your toes feel cramped up, if the toe box region of the shoes is too narrow or not high to place your toes appropriately.
- The length of the shoes is short, and your feet extend out of the shoe.
- The shape of sneakers or shoes does not contour as per the shape of your feet
- High heels putting stress on your toes
For the shoes to fit properly on your feet, the toes should face straight ahead, and there should be enough space between each toe. Your toes should be able to move and breathe inside the shoes, and there should be some space left in the toe box. If the toes are pointed in different directions, the boots are not a proper fit for you, and you must pass them off.
Problems Related To Wearing Tight Shoes
If you continue to use tight shoes, you are eventually causing harm to your feet. The damage can be from minor to severe or may even cause permanent deformities.
Here is a list of problems that are caused due to wearing tight shoes:
A bunion is an enlargement of a joint or tissue from the base of the big toe. Eventually, the shape of the feet looks deformed, and the extended bunion may get painful. Moreover, the big toe starts leaning towards the second toe of your feet, while the bunion looks protruded.
Bunions are mainly due to wearing tight shoes. The best way to treat them is to wear wide shoes that provide enough space for your feet to breathe. Extreme cases may require surgical intervention.
A corn is a type of skin peel or blister that develops on your toes or at the side-skin of toes. Corns basically happens due to the constant rubbing of the sneaker across the foot’s skin. It may either start peeling off the skin or develop a callus over the area, which is painful.
The best way to treat corn is to apply a foam pad over the surface and allow it to heal. Additionally, you must wear proper fitting shoes that are roomy and do not keep rubbing against the skin.
Hammertoe is a very commonly seen condition due to ill-fitting shoes. Here, the fingers of your toes don’t lay flat. Instead, it bends upwards, changing the position of your fingers and causing the shoe surface to rub against the toe skin constantly.
In severe cases, it can lead to swelling or even surgical intervention. The best way to prevent this is to wear toe straps or toe splints. You can apply ice in the inflamed areas and wear loose shoes with enough space in the toe box.
Crossover toe mainly happens because of wearing tight shoes with no room in the toe box. This causes the toes to go one above the other and causes constant pressure on the toe muscles.
The best way to avoid crossover toe is to wear shoes with a big toe box region, use spacers to keep the toes at a distance apart. You can also apply ice to reduce the pain in the affected areas.
An ingrown toenail develops as a result of cutting your nails abnormally in the big toe. If you trim your nails too short across the corners and end up wearing tight shoes, then you can develop ingrown toenails. This happens because the big toe constantly keeps rubbing against the adjacent toe due to tight shoes.
The constant rubbing causes pressure on the toenail and may also cause pain or inflammation. To fix this, you need to wear shoes with a wide toe box. To reduce the pain and inflammation, you can soak your feet in warm water 3-4 times a day and cut your toenails straight. Make sure they are not trimmed too short around the corners of the big toe.
People who are victims of diabetes often suffer from peripheral neuropathy in the foot. This is nerve damage that does not allow them to sense skin irritations or punctures. Therefore, they are more prone to severe foot conditions due to wearing tight shoes like sores or blisters. If left unattended, these can even lead to severe infections.
Avoid wearing tight shoes if you have diabetes. Simultaneously, keep checking your feet for any blisters, injuries, or inflammation to catch hold of them before it gets severe.
How to Stretch Sneakers for Wide Feet – 7 Effective Tips and Tricks
If your feet are wide, if your sneakers need to feel more stretched or roomy, we have suggested seven effective tips that you can try to stretch your sneakers. Read on to find out:
Wear them off
The best way to break in early into any kind of shoes is to wear them off. Wear them whenever you find a chance at home and walk around the house. This allows the sneakers to open up.
Remember, if you experience pain or if your feet feel cramped up, remove them to avoid complications in your feet. Else, you can always keep them wearing to stretch them up!!
If they feel uncomfortable after a few weeks of wearing, you can return them or replace them with a bigger size.
Ice pack method
We all know water expands when it freezes. This property can be used to stretch and expand your sneakers as well. Follow the steps below:
- Take two sealable bags of approximately 3-4 liters of capacity.
- Fill them with water; up to half level is sufficient.
- Ensure to check for leaks or holes in the bag; it can spoil your shoes and make them wet.
- Push these sealable bags right up to the toe box region of your sneakers.
- Keep your sneakers along with these water-filled bags in the freezer. You can keep them for 8-10 hours or overnight.
- The water in the bags expands when it starts converting into ice. This expansion also helps in the stretching of your toe box region of the sneakers.
- Remove the shoes from the freezer after placing them overnight. Allow the shoes to dry.
- Wipe them off well and try the shoes on to check the level of stretch.
- If they have stretched enough, you can wear and use them. If not using immediately, stuff newspaper pieces inside sneakers to maintain the stretch.
- You can repeat the process if you feel the stretch is not enough and you want them to stretch wider.
Using hairdryer and thick socks
Just like ice, heat is another way of expanding materials. In this case, we can even expand sneakers using a blow dryer. This method works best for rubber sneakers or leather shoes. It may not work for canvas sneakers.
Here is what you need to do:
- Wear a pair of thick socks and fasten the shoes across your feet.
- Make sure the shoes are not worn too tightly, and neither are too loose on your feet.
- Now, use a blow dryer on medium heat and move it around the toe box region of the shoes.
- Make sure to distribute the heat evenly across the entire surface of the shoe.
- Continue doing this for 20-30 seconds on each area of the shoe.
- For best results and to prevent the shoes from drying off, apply a shoe conditioner or leather conditioner after using the blow dryer. It prevents the shoe material from drying out and deteriorating eventually.
- Avoid using excessive heat if the shoes or sneakers are of cheap quality. It may spoil the shoes.
- Try flexing your feet with the shoes on. This allows the sneakers to stretch appropriately as per the shape of your feet.
- Don’t hold the dryer for too long on one particular area of the shoe; otherwise, it will spoil it. Keep moving the dryer continuously.
- Do not overheat the shoes.
Shoe Stretchers or Shoe Trees
Shoe stretchers or shoe trees are available in any local shoe store or even at a cobbler’s. You can purchase shoe trees online as well.
Shoe stretchers usually come with an adjustable knob. You can rotate them several times based on the amount of stretching you need in your shoes. For best results, place them overnight inside the shoes once you have adjusted the knob.
Shoe trees are somewhat similar, a few of them being adjustable as well. These can also be placed overnight inside the shoes. Push the shoe trees right up to the toe box and move it a few times to stretch and widen the shoe material.
The best part is that you can use shoe trees or stretchers for any type of sneakers or shoes. If you combine these with shoe stretching liquids, it helps and gives better results.
Certain shoe trees are even made of cedar wood that helps keep your shoes dry while also eliminating odor.
Shoe stretching liquids
Shoe stretching liquids are meant for reacting with the shoe fabric to make them wider. These are usually alcohol-based solutions that help in softening the shoe material. This helps in better stretching. You can apply them onto the areas of the shoe that feel tight and allow it to dry or react for a while.
Before using, make sure to spray a small amount and check or test the liquid for discoloration. If it does not cause an adverse effect, you can use it over the entire shoe. Combine these liquids with a shoe tree or shoe stretcher, and you are good to go. These liquids are readily available at a local shoe shop or even online.
Fill with rice and oats
Grains swell up if they are soaked wet. Just use some soaked rice, grains, or oats and stuff them in a bag. Now, put this bag inside the shoes. Make sure to push the bag right up to the toe box for a good stretch.
Remove the bag the following day, and you will find your shoes all stretched up and wide due to the grains swelling up!!
Peeled potato trick/Newspaper stuffings
Keeping your sneakers stuffed when they are simply lying on the shelf or not in use can help maintain the stretch. You can combine any of the above methods and then stuff some potato peels or newspaper pieces to preserve the stretch of the shoe.
Make sure to be generous with the stuffing and push them right up to the toe box region to widen the necessary areas of the shoe.
Tips to get the right sneakers for wide feet
For people with wide feet, you would often experience problems with fitting into sneakers easily. However, comfort should be more important than style when choosing the right fit for your feet. This is why we decided to lend you some handy tips on how to get the right shoes or sneakers for the best fitting.
Always take your time before getting the right pair for yourself. Wear and open the shoes several times, walk around the shop and flex your feet to check if the shoes fit well and are comfortable. Try out several options before deciding which is the best and most comfortable fit.
Try and Buy
Buying shoes from a local store is a much better deal than getting them online. Each shoe has a different size guide, and some may not match your feet’ size. Even if you find great deals online and decide to order one, make sure to check for return options in case the shoes don’t fit.
Look for custom shoes
If you have any foot-associated problems like hammertoe, or bunions or arthritis, or Achilles Tendonitis, then you can look for specialized shoes. These shoes are made in a customized way and provide superior comfort for healing your feet. These types of shoes are available in specialized stores or even online. In fact, their fitting is comfortable and prevents corns, calluses, or bunions.
The contouring and the fitting of the shoe on your feet also matters. If the shoes are too tight, your feet feel cramped up. If they are too loose, it may cause injuries and changes in the walking style and gait. Therefore, wear the shoes and check if it matches the shape of your feet.
Choose your brand. Each brand has a different shoe size to offer. While your foot size maybe 6.5 for one brand, it may be 7.5 for the other. Therefore, make sure to look for different brands and sizes. Choose the one that fits your feet and stick to the brand when you buy any kind of shoes for a constant size and measurement.
Shop for shoes in the evening
This is a weird fact, but your shoes swell up in the evening compared to the morning. It is because of day-long hours of work or standing that may cause your feet to swell up. If you buy shoes in the evening, they will eventually feel comfortable to wear when you try them in the morning. If you buy shoes in the morning, there are higher chances of your feet feeling cramped up inside the shoes by evening.
Not all of us have the same type of feet. Some have petite feet, while some people have wide feet. Therefore, people with wider feet require sneakers and shoes that are just as wide as the shape of their feet.
Unfortunately, all shoes and sneakers are not designed in the same fashion. Therefore, they may not provide the same comfort fit for people with wide feet. Hence, we have suggested some ways to stretch sneakers for wide feet people.
Alongside, we have also suggested some tips to choose your sneakers and shoes wisely, especially when you have wide feet. Read our tips above and tell us if you found them helpful through the comments section below.
Brandon R. Katz is a registered professional nurse who has been instrumental in providing us with an informed opinion on the medical aspects of footwear. He graduated from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and currently provides his services at a non-federal long-term care hospital in Brooklyn, NY.
Brandon proves to be the champion in the group of expert writers with his in-depth knowledge in foot health, how to take care of it adequately, and what shoes, socks, or insoles will be supreme for you. He has previously worked with hospitals where he has foreseen both inpatient and outpatient departments and has been a practicing nurse since 2009.
Brandon hails from Jersey City, NY, and has a loving family of four with a small popper called Rozo. His decision to become a nurse arises from the desire to be in the position of helping and rehabilitating people.