There are few things worse than buying a new pair of shoes only to find that they’re not as comfortable on your feet as they felt when you tried them on!
But there is good news. You don’t need to send them back, give them to someone else as a gift, or throw them out. There are many ways to make shoes more comfortable to wear them without pain or discomfort.
Here are 16 easy things to try if your shoes are hurting your feet or feel too small, too big, or just not as comfortable as you’d hoped.
1. Break-in Your Shoes Properly
When you buy a new pair of shoes, take some time to break them in before wearing them out for a long period of time.
Wear your shoes around the house for up to an hour to break them in. Walk around, climb stairs, and even spend some time sitting with your new shoes on.
This will help your shoes stretch and loosen while they mold to the shape of your feet. It will also help identify any specific tight spots that may need to be stretched out before wearing the shoes for more extended periods.
To help break in your shoes a little quicker, you can wear thick socks. If you don’t own thick socks, you can try wearing two pairs of socks at once.
This will help stretch the shoe and protect your feet from hot spots that can create blisters or pressure points.
2. Add Comfortable Insoles
Your feet are unique to you! So much so that there’s even a difference between your left and right foot.
Depending on the shape of your feet and the level of comfort and support you need, you may find that adding an over-the-counter insert changes the overall comfort of your shoe.
This is why most shoes come with removable insoles that can be replaced with your own, offering better support and comfort.
It’s also one of the quickest ways to improve the comfort of your shoes instantly, as custom orthotics and even over-the-counter orthotics provide anatomical support and cushioning. Heated insoles are great in cold weather.
3. Stretch Your Shoes
While it’s best just to wear your shoes to break them in, sometimes you need a little help to stretch them out.
Fortunately, there are some safe ways to stretch your shoes to eliminate any tight spots. These include:
- Adjustable shoe trees
- Damp newspaper in your shoes
- Bag of frozen water
- Apply shoe stretch spray or liquid
- Stretch with the heat of a blowdryer
Any of these methods will help stretch your shoes without you having to worry about them causing blisters or skin irritation. This is key if you have wide feet you are trying to fit shoes for.
They’ll help you to target specific tight spots, allowing the shoe to loosen safely and providing a comfortable fit. Just be careful, it can be hard to shrink shoes once they’ve been stretched.
4. Invest in Proper Footwear
With a wide variety of shoes on the market, you can find comfortable and fashionable shoes that will also protect your feet.
Our feet help our body move more efficiently while carrying our entire body weight and absorbing the shock from our footstrikes.
In order for our feet to continue to do this effectively, there are a few features that you should look for in shoes. These include:
- Breathable uppers
- A wide toe box that allows your toes to splay naturally
- Built-in arch support
- Cushioned footbeds
- Firm, shock-absorbing sole that doesn’t easily twist or bend
5. Wear High-Quality Socks
Socks are often underrated, but there are many benefits to wearing a high-quality pair of socks with your shoes.
They can help provide the ideal environment for your feet by keeping them dry and helping to regulate temperature. This also helps prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause athlete’s foot and odors.
Not only do socks help manage sweat, but they also provide an additional layer of protection in uncomfortable shoes and reduce areas of friction where blisters could form.
If you’re spending most of your day on your feet, then wearing padded socks can help reduce foot and muscle fatigue keeping your feet pain-free and comfortable.
Like shoes, make sure you buy the correct size socks. They come in a range of sizes, including wide socks.
6. Use Toe Protectors or Toe Caps
Toe protectors or toe caps are made from soft, hypoallergenic materials that slip on and stay securely on your toe.
These provide an additional layer of cushioning and prevent your toes from rubbing against the shoe.
Toe protectors or toe caps are also a great way to protect your toes if you have foot conditions like hammer toes or claw toes.
They’re an excellent option if you feel the discomfort mainly in your toes.
7. Fight Sweaty Feet
There are more sweat glands per inch in your palms and feet than there are anywhere else in your body!
Your feet can produce up to 400 milliliters of sweat a day, leaving them feeling damp, clammy, and uncomfortable in your shoes.
The sweat in your shoes also provides the perfect environment for bacteria to breed, leaving your shoes with a powerful smell.
Taking measures to help manage sweating can reduce foot discomfort and make your shoes feel much more comfortable and healthier.
You can use a foot powder, baking soda, or a specialty insert to absorb sweat, keep your feet more comfortable in your shoes, and reduce odors.
8. Using Some Vaseline or Lubricating Gel
New shoes often rub up against your heel and other parts of your foot, creating friction that can lead to blisters.
Before putting your shoes on, apply some Vaseline or sports lubricants—like BodyGlide—to areas where the shoes rub.
This will help protect your foot by reducing friction, which will prevent chafing and blisters from forming.
9. Prevent Slippage
One reason that shoes feel uncomfortable is that they are too big. Commonly, you’ll have either too much space in front of the toe or too much space between the foot and the upper. This often happens if you have narrow feet.
This results in your feet moving around inside the shoes when you walk, leading to chafing and tight foot muscles as your feet have to work to prevent your shoes from moving.
You can prevent this by tightening your shoes more securely. But if your shoes are already tight and you don’t want to cause circulation problems, you may want to consider gel inserts in your shoes.
You can add a thin insole under your foot to reduce the space between your foot and the upper, or use spacers in front of your toes to stop your foot from sliding forward.
10. Stop Slippery Outsoles
Another reason your shoes feel uncomfortable is that they have a slippery and flimsy outsole.
When your outsole is too smooth or made of a material that doesn’t offer a lot of traction, your feet can become painful and uncomfortable as your foot muscles work harder to prevent you from slipping.
There are a few ways to make your outsoles less slippery. Some are temporary, but a few can permanently damage your outsoles, so consider that before trying them. They include:
- Sandpaper the soles to make them rough
- Cut/score your tread with a knife or tool
- Use grip spray every time you wear the shoes
- Buy grip pads for your outsole
11. Care For Your Feet
Sometimes taking better care of your feet can help your shoes to fit better, instead of adjusting your shoes.
If you find that your shoes rub up against your toes and cause black nails or break nails, keeping your nails shorter could be an option.
If the upper seems to rub against your skin and cause abrasions, you may need to apply a cream to your feet to keep them moisturized.
12. Repair Torn and Ragged Heel Linings With Denim
If the heel collar on your shoes develops holes, they can cause chafing and discomfort. However, they are easy to repair. It makes them look better and prevents the harsh inner material from rubbing against your Achilles.
Denim is an excellent material to use as it’s highly durable and looks good. You can cut a patch to fit the area inside the heel and glue it in or stitch it in securely.
If you don’t have denim, you can use other materials, but choose something durable.
13. Use Moleskin to Cushion and Tighten Hot Spots
Apart from denim, you can use a soft material called moleskin to repair torn heel collars or provide protection against other hotspots within the shoes.
Some people choose to stick the moleskin to their skin where hotspots develop. But it will last longer if you either attach it to the shoe or sew it into the shoe in the places where it rubs.
14. Keep Feet Dry by Waterproofing Shoes
Wet or damp feet can be uncomfortable, no matter what shoes you wear.
The best solution if you live in a wet place or work in wet environments is to waterproof your shoes—or invest in a pair of waterproof shoes.
To waterproof your existing shoes, you can apply a layer of beeswax, which will form a seal against moisture.
You can also buy a waterproofing spray and follow the instructions to waterproof your existing pairs of shoes.
This will prevent water from rain or puddles making your feet feel damp and uncomfortable.
15. Don’t Give Up on Your Fav Shoes During Cold Months
If you have a pair of shoes you love during summer, you don’t have to change your footwear when the cold months come.
You can keep your comfortable footwear and add extra warmth by placing a warm wool insole inside it.
Alternatively, you can cut some warm wool fabric into the right shape for your shoe and place it inside to insulate your feet.
16. Replace Worn Out Shoes
Many people wear their shoes for far too long, not realizing when the cushioning and support have worn out.
When the foam in your shoes has flattened, your shoes may suddenly become more uncomfortable without any apparent reason.
This is a sign that your shoes are worn out and need to be replaced. Pay attention to your existing pairs of shoes and how they make your feet feel.
Try not to wear worn-out shoes for too long before buying a new pair, as they’re uncomfortable and can contribute to the development of foot conditions like metatarsalgia and plantar fasciitis.