How to Fix Painful Shoes
Certain shoes can be painful to wear, but they do not always have to be. Before you subject yourself to the torture of aching, chafed, and blistered feet, try some of the tips and tricks outlines in this article. Keep in mind, however, that some shoes may be poorly structured and impossible to fix completely. Read this article to learn how to make your painful shoes painless to wear, or at least a little more bearable.
Using Moleskin, Inserts, and Insoles
Prevent blisters, chafing, and cutting by sticking pieces of moleskin inside your shoe. Purchase some moleskin from a shoe store (or the shoe repair section of a drug store) and take out one sheet. Place the sheet behind the offending strap or heel and trace it with a pencil. Cut the shape out using a pair of scissors and peel off the backing. Stick the moleskin onto the strap or heel.
- This will also work on other areas that cause chafing. If the area is inside your shoe, cut out a small circle or oval that is slightly larger than the area getting chafed. Peel off the backing and stick the moleskin to the offending area.
- You can also stick the moleskin directly onto your foot, and peel it off at the end of the day.
Prevent friction and blisters by applying an anti-friction stick to your feet. You can purchase one at a drugstore. Apply the balm directly onto your skin, where the chafing and blistering is likely to occur.
- You probably do not want to apply this to existing blisters. Instead, consider buying some blister treatments instead. They look like oval band-aids and go over the blister. They help cushion the blister and keep it clean so that it does not get infected.
Consider using an antiperspirant stick to reduce sweating. The sweat and moisture created by chafing can cause or worsen blisters. An antiperspirant reduces the moisture, which may reduce blistering.
Keep your foot in place and prevent chafing and bruising with an insole. When your foot slips around from side to side, blisters can form along the front and back of your foot, where the material rubs against your skin. If you find your foot moving around inside a wedge heel or similar style, place a gel or padded insole inside the shoe to reduce movement.
Ease pain in the ball of your foot with some ball-of-foot cushions. If the ball of your foot is aching at the end of the day, your shoe may be too hard; this is especially common in high heels. Purchase a set of ball-of-foot cushions and stick them in the front of your shoes, right where the ball of your foot sits. They are usually shaped like ovals or eggs.
- If you have a pair of heeled sandals that have a strap between the toes, consider getting a heart-shaped cushion. The rounded parts of the heart will fit to either side of the toe strap.
Use some silicone gel dots or adhesive foam tape to ease excessive pressure in smaller areas. Both can be purchased in a shoe store or a drug store. The silicone gel dots are clear and easily disguised, but the foam tape can be cut to just the right shape and size.
Use silicone heel cups or arch-supporting insoles to sooth aching heels. If your heels ache, it may be because the back/heel area of your shoe is too hard. It could also be because your shoes do not give your feet enough arch support. Try putting in a silicone heel cup or an arch support insole. Both can be trimmed down to the right size, and have adhesive on the back so that they don't slip around.
- Arch supporting insoles are usually labeled as such; if you are having troubles finding some, look for something that is thicker in the middle of the insole—right where the arch of your foot would go.
- Placing an insole in a tight shoe may make your feet feel overcrowded and uncomfortable. If this happens, try a thinner insole
Prevent scrunched toes in high heels by asking a shoe cobbler to trim the heel down for you. Sometimes, the angle between the heel and the ball-of-foot is too great, causing your feet to slide forward and squish your toes against the front of the shoe. Reducing the heel height might fix this. Do not attempt to do this on your own; seek out a shoe cobbler to do it for you. Most high heels can be trimmed down up to 1 inch (2.54 centimeters) by a shoe cobbler.
Fixing the Size
Know how the wrong size can hurt and how to fix it. Shoes that are too large can hurt just as much as shoes that are too small. Large shoes won't offer you enough support and cause your foot to move around too much, leading to chafing and scrunched toes. Shoes that are too small will leave your feet feeling cramped and aching at the end of the day. Fortunately, it is possible to stretch shoes out a little bit; it is also possible to fill shoes in to make them smaller.
- Keep in mind that some materials are easier to stretch than others.
Try putting in an insole if your shoe is too large. They will provide extra cushioning inside your shoe and prevent your foot from wriggling around too much.
Use a heel grip if your shoe is too big and your foot slides forward too much. A heel grip is an oval-shaped cushion with adhesive on one side. It can be made from gel or foam covered with moleskin. Simply peel the backing off the heel grip, and stick it to the inside of your shoe, right where the heel is. It will add extra cushioning to the back of the shoe, which will prevent your heel from getting chafed and keep your foot in place.
Fill out large toe boxes with some lambs' wool. If your new loafers or work shoes are too large and your toes keep sliding forward and getting scrunched, try filling out the toe area with some lambswool. This breathable, airy material will be more comfortable and less-likely to wad up, like tissue. You can also try using some cotton balls.
Stretch out your shoes with a shoe tree. A shoe tree can either maintain the shape of your shoe or stretch it out, depending on the length or width of the tree. Insert the shoe tree into your shoe in between wearings. This technique works best for leather and suede, but will not work on rubber or plastic.
Stretch out your shoes using a shoe stretcher. Spray your shoe with some shoe stretching spray, then tuck the stretcher into you shoe. All shoe stretchers are going to be a little bit different, but most will have a handle and a knob. The knob will adjust the length and the handle will adjust the width. Keep turning the handle and knob until the shoe material is snug, then leave the stretcher in the shoe for six to eight hours. Once the time is up, turn the handle and knob the other way (to make the shoe stretcher smaller) and pull the stretcher out of your shoe. This is a great option for too-large loafers and work shoes.
- There are different types of shoe stretchers available, including ones for high heels. A two-way stretcher might be the most useful, as it can stretch both the width and the length of your shoe.
- Some shoe stretches have attachments for ailments like bunions. Insert these attachments before using the shoe stretcher.
- Shoe stretchers can only break in shoes and loosen them so that they do not feel so snug or tight; they cannot make your shoe whole size bigger.
- Shoe stretchers work best on natural materials, such as leather and suede. They may work on certain types of fabric, but will not be very effective on synthetics and plastics.
Ask a cobbler to stretch out your shoe for you. Doing so will give your toes more room to move, which may reduce squeezing and soreness throughout the foot. Stretching only works with shoes made of leather and suede, however. If you have an expensive pair of dress shoes that you don't want to ruin by stretching yourself, this is a good alternative.
Use ice to stretch out shoes that are too snug in the toe area. You can do this by filling two Ziploc bags partway with water and sealing them tightly so that there is no air left inside the bags and the water doesn't slosh out. Plop each bag into the toe of each shoe and stick both shoes into the freezer. Leave the shoes there until the ice freezes, then take them out. Pull the bags out of the shoe, then slip the shoes on. The shoes will conform to your foot shape as they warm back up.
- This helps stretch shoes out to some extent because water expands as it freezes.
- This will only work on natural materials, such as leather, suede, and fabric. It may not have much effect on plastics and pleather.
- Keep in mind that if your leather or suede shoes become damp, you may see some staining. Consider wrapping your shoe with a towel to protect it.
Fixing Other Problems
Buy some specialized socks. Sometimes, wearing the right type of sock with your shoe is all that you need to fix painful shoes. These types of socks offer support to your feet, wick away moisture, and help prevent chafing and blisters. Here are some types of specialized socks that you might be able to find, and what they can do for you:
- Athletic socks are tighter in the arch area. This helps offer arch support, and makes them ideal for athletic and running shoes.
- Moisture wicking socks will help remove sweat from around your feet. This will help keep your feet dry and prevent blisters.
- Running socks have extra padding on the underside, This will help absorb the impact your foot makes when you run.
- Toe socks are like gloves, but for your feet instead. They cover each toe separately, and may help prevent blisters between toes.
- Consider the material. Some materials, such as cotton, soak up sweat too easily, which can lead to blisters. Acrylic, polyester, and polypropylene help remove sweat, leaving your feet dry.
Prevent painful flip-flops by cushioning the thong part. Flip-flops can be comfortable and easy to wear. When the thong starts to dig in between your toes, however, they can become painful. Here are some tricks you can try to make flip-flops less painful:
- Use silicon flip-flop inserts. They are shaped like ball-of-foot cushions, except that they have a little cylinder that sticks up near the front. Place the insert in the front of your flip-flop, then slip the thong part into the cylinder. The cylinder will help prevent the thong from digging in between your toes.
- Wrap the thong area with some adhesive moleskin. The will be especially effective on plastic or rubber flip-flops. It will help cushion your foot and soften any sharp edges.
- Wrap some fabric around the thong. You can even continue wrapping the fabric around the straps for a colorful, personal touch. Secure both ends of the fabric to the shoe with a drop of shoe glue.
Know how to treat painfully-smelly shoes. You can use micro-suede insoles to absorb odor-causing sweat, or you can stick some tea bags into the shoes while you are not wearing them. The tea bags will absorb the odor. Discard the tea bags the next day.
Consider taping your third and fourth toe together using skin-colored medical tape. This helps lessen pain in the ball of your foot. The reason this works is because there is a nerve between those two toes. That nerve splits when you wear heels and put pressure on it. Taping those toes together pulls some of the strain away.
Break in stiff shoes by wearing them for short periods. If your new shoes are painful because they are stiff, you can help soften them up by wearing them around your home. Be sure to take breaks often and take the shoes off when they become too painful. Over time, the shoes may loosen up and become more comfortable to wear.
Use a hairdryer to stretch and break in stiff shoes. Turn a hairdryer on to the lowest setting and point the nozzle into the shoe. Warm the shoe up from the inside for a few minutes, then turn the hairdryer off. Put on two pairs of socks and slip the shoe on. As the shoe cools back down, it will conform to the shape of your foot. This method is best used for shoes made from natural materials; it is not recommended for plastics and other synthetic materials as it may damage them.
- Wear new shoes around the house before you wear them out. Doing so helps break them in and allows you to identify any potential problems before they get too painful.
- Soak sore feet in hot water after you take your shoes off. The heat will soothe the pain and may make your feet feel much better.
- Consider switching our shoes around throughout the day. If you are walking to work or an event, wear some comfortable shoes. Change to your dress shoes once you get to work or the event.
- Attach a clear or black heel protector to the bottom of skinny heels when you anticipate walking on unsteady terrain. Heel protectors create more surface area, which reduces the likelihood of your heel getting caught.
- If you develop blisters, soak your feet for 10 minutes in warm green tea. The astringent tea kills bacteria, reducing odor and minimizing your chances of developing an infection. The warmth will also help soothe away the pain.
- Keep in mind that feet change sizes. They get more swollen when it is warm, and thinner when it is cool. Also, feet can change size as you grow older. It might be a good idea to have a specialist measure your feet at a shoe store every so often.
- If you suffer from bunions, look for shoes that are labeled as "wide." Some shoes come in narrow, normal/regular, and wide sizes.
- Sometimes, it is not possible to fix a painful shoe, either because of the shoe's structure, size, or quality. In this case, you may have to consider purchasing a different shoe.