High heels can be an elegant and classy choice for certain occasions. But they do come with some disadvantages, like placing excess strain on your feet. With this in mind, they should be worn sparingly, but when you do wear them, you want them to fit perfectly.
Many high-heeled shoes don’t come in wide sizes, so if you have naturally wide feet, it can be difficult to find a pair that look pretty and don’t hurt your feet while you wear them.
Let’s have a look at how to stretch high heels for wide feet so that you can wear them comfortably in all situations.
Keep in mind that some of these methods are permanent and may cause damage to your heels, so think carefully before you do them.
How Should High Heels Fit?
Wearing high heels that are too tight is a common problem and can lead to a number of foot conditions. These can not only cause discomfort, but may lead to constant pain. However, finding a pair that’s exactly the right fit can be tricky.
Pay attention to the following factors when you shop for high heels to make sure you’re getting the right size:
- Length: Your heel should be back against the heel counter and your toes should all face forward in the toe box. You shouldn’t have to grip the shoe with your toes in order for the shoe to stay secure on your foot.
- Toe Box: Your toes should not overlap when they’re in the toe box or be pushed out of their natural alignment. There should be space between the top of your toes and the upper of the shoe.
What Are the Consequences of Poorly-Fitting High Heels?
If you wear the wrong-sized high heels just once, you’ll most likely feel discomfort while you’re wearing them. You may also be at a higher risk of developing blisters, which can cause pain for a few days after wearing them.
Wearing high heels on a regular basis can lead to worse foot problems. As they don’t provide a lot of support for your arch, there’s a high chance of developing conditions like plantar fasciitis as the arch is under more strain than usual.
Aside from the lack of support, if you’re wearing high heels that are too narrow for your feet, you may be at risk of developing conditions like metatarsalgia, Morton’s neuroma, bunions, sesamoiditis, overlapping toes, hammer toes or hallux rigidus, and fat pad atrophy.
In turn, suffering from these conditions can cause you to change your gait—even unconsciously—which can also lead to ankle, knee, hip, and back pain as the kinetic chain goes out of alignment.
How to Stretch High Heels for Wide Feet
Learn how to stretch high heels for wide feet, and you’ll never have trouble fitting into your shoes again.
Remember that some of these methods can cause permanent changes to your heels, so be cautious about which techniques you choose to use.
1. Use Ice
This is an easy way to stretch the toe box of your high heels. You will need to make some space in your freezer to fit your high heels inside without touching any food.
Fill two small bags with water and push them as far into the toe box as you can. Make sure the bags are properly sealed before you try this! When the bags are in the toe box of the shoes, place the heels into the freezer and leave them overnight.
As the water freezes, it expands a little. This will push on the inside of the shoes, stretching the upper slightly and hold it in that position for hours, effectively keeping it stretched once you take them out of the freezer.
Be careful when removing the bags the following day. You may need to wait for them to melt a little before you remove them so that you don’t damage the shoes.
You should find that the uppers have stretched slightly and fit more comfortably on your foot. If you need to, you can repeat this process a few more times if the shoes start to feel tight again.
2. Use Heat
Applying heat can soften the upper of your high heels and allow it to stretch a little. You should wear one or two pairs of socks—if you can’t fit your foot into the heels with two pairs of socks on, then use one.
Push your feet into the shoes, even if it’s a struggle. Be careful not to hurt your feet or damage the shoes. Now, use a hairdryer and blow-dry the shoes for a few minutes.
Keep moving the dryer around and don’t concentrate it on one place of the shoe. The upper should feel noticeably warm—even hot—but not painfully so.
You can gently wiggle your toes and stretch your foot muscles as you’re warming the upper. This will help it to stretch around your foot. After about 3 to 5 minutes, leave the heels on until they cool down.
Once you remove the heels, they should be slightly wider than they were before. You should be able to wear them more comfortably.
3. Use a Shoe Spray
You can buy shoe sprays online, like the FootMatters Professional Boot & Shoe Stretch Spray, which are designed to soften the material so it can stretch. Most of them are designed to be used on leather, but you can find some that are suitable for other materials too.
You should follow the instructions on the shoe spray you buy. However, most of them are quite straightforward. You simply spray it on the part of the shoe that’s too tight, and slip your feet into the shoes and walk with them until the shoes are dry.
This should cause them to stretch out a little, making them fit more comfortably on your feet as you walk.
4. Use a Shoe Stretcher
Shoe stretchers—also known as shoe trees—can be an easy way to stretch your high heels to fit better. Make sure you choose one like the XYH Shoe Stretcher, which is specifically designed for high heels and comes in a pair.
All you do is insert them into the high heels, all the way into the toe box, and start turning the knob to widen the stretcher. You should only need about four to five turns of the knob, but it’s up to you to judge when they are stretched enough.
Leave them for 12 to 24 hours so that the upper can stretch properly. Many of them also come with bunion plugs, which you can use to add extra width in very specific areas to ease pressure on bunions and corns.
If you buy a single shoe stretcher, be aware that you will need to do one shoe at a time, which means it will take twice as long.
5. Wear Them In
If your shoes are only slightly tight, they might just need some wearing in. You should wear a thick pair of socks and walk in your high heels for a few hours every day. This can help to stretch them out just enough to be comfortable.
You should try this first before attempting the other methods here. It’s non-damaging, and if it works then there’s no need for you to take the time and effort to try other things.
6. Take Them to a Cobbler
If you’ve tried everything else but can’t get your shoes to fit properly, take them to a professional.
A cobbler will be able to widen your shoes safely and effectively—and if they can’t, you’ll know for sure that you need to invest in a new pair.
7. Try Rounded Toes
If your high heels are only tight in the toe box, the problem may be that your toes don’t have enough room to splay naturally. A quick solution could be to switch from pointy-toed shoes to rounded-toed shoes.
These are still elegant and pretty, but they have the added bonus of providing more space in the toe box. Your toes will have a little more room to spread out, preventing them from getting squished against each other as they follow the shape of a pointed toe.