How to Stretch the Instep of a Shoe

Two businessmen sitting on steps, Close-up of feet
Feet of businessmen (Image: Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images)

As anyone who has ever spent a day in ill-fitting shoes can attest, walking around in too-tight shoes is highly uncomfortable. A common culprit for ill-fitting shoes is an uncomfortably tight instep, which is the arched middle area of the shoe. Before paying to have a shoe cobbler stretch the insteps of your shoes, consider trying a variety of homemade instep stretching methods.

Sock Method

Step 1

Put on as many pairs of thick socks as possible and then put your shoes on.

Step 2

Walk around the house or on the treadmill for at least 15 minutes in your shoes.

Step 3

Remove your socks and shoes. Try on the shoes either barefoot or wearing the socks or hosiery you would normally wear with the shoes. If the instep of the shoes is still too tight, repeat the process for an additional 15 minutes.

Freezer Method

Step 1

Fill up a sandwich-sized, resealable plastic zipper bag halfway with water. If you are worried about leaking, use two zipper bags.

Step 2

Place the bag of water in the instep of your shoe and place the shoe in the freezer for at least 12 hours. As the bag of water expands into ice, ideally your shoes will expand as well.

Step 3

Remove the frozen bag of water from your shoes and try them on for size. If they are still too tight, repeat the process.

Hairdryer Method

Step 1

Put on as many pairs of thick socks as possible and then put your shoes on.

Step 2

Put your hairdryer on its highest heat setting and then blast the instep area of your shoe with the hot air for one minute. For extra stretching, flex your foot back and forth while using the hairdryer on the instep of your shoes.

Step 3

Walk around in your shoes while waiting for them to completely cool down.

Step 4

Remove your socks and shoes, then put the shoes on normally. If the instep of the shoes is still too tight, repeat the process.

Things You'll Need

  • Thick socks

  • Resealable plastic zipper bag (sandwich size)

  • Water

  • Freezer

  • Hairdryer

Tip

Keep your shoes dry to prevent them from shrinking.

Warning

Do not use the hairdryer method on shoes with glued-on adornments because the hot air could melt the glue and damage the shoes.

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