Fit Fix

Fit Fix

Advice on Fixing the Most Common Shoe Fit Problems

Because shoemakers have to make shoes to fit an “average” foot (and each factory has their own template for what “average” looks like!), it’s a rarity to find a shoe that looks and feels good immediately on your foot. Our advice—be patient! Remember that unlike clothing, shoes really do change size and shape with your foot. Don’t say no right away without a few of our tips and tricks to perfect the fit of your shoes:

Our lives are busy. It’s easy to get a package in the mail and put off opening it until you have time to deal with it. But with shoes, it really is better to open up the box and get them on your feet sooner rather than later. Most online shoe retailers have generous return policies (ours is 30 days) precisely so you do have enough time to try on a shoe and make sure it really works for you. Take advantage of that!
Make sure to be specific about any problems that come up. While knowing a shoe is uncomfortable is a fine first impression, knowing that it’s uncomfortable because it hits your ankle in a bad place gives you a problem you can solve.

The most common problem people experience when trying on new shoes is tightness around the top and sides, or vamp, of the shoe.
As hard as it may be to believe, a shoe with a snug vamp can be a blessing in disguise. Leather shoes have a natural break in period, and, over time and wear, the vamp will stretch to perfectly accommodate the size and shape of your foot.
Of course, not all of us are so patient. Most cobblers have a shoe stretching service where they use a wooden block to stretch out the leather of a shoe. This is a fine fix, but you’ll get a less customized fit, and it’ll cost you a pretty penny. We much prefer using rubbing alcohol to stretch out shoes. It’s cheap, fast, and customized to your foot.
Nervous to use alcohol on your shoes? You can also put on thick socks with your shoes and run a hair dryer over them. This will help imitate the heat of your foot stretching the shoe naturally (although we’d recommend following up with some leather lotion to avoid over-drying!). You could also try the freezer method.

A word of warning--rigid back shoes, like many women’s heels or men’s dress shoes, won’t get much, if any stretch in this area. That’s to say: don’t tough it out! If a shoe is cutting into your heel add some padding or moleskin to protect your feet. You’ll feel way better, and it’ll save you from limping in flip-flops a week later.
Shoes with softer heel cups will loosen with warmth and movement. Use your hands to kneed them out, or try the rubbing alcohol tip mentioned above.

Whereas there are a few shoe companies that bridge the gap between comfort and style (like Cobb Hill or Brako), many companies are focused more on style than comfort or foot health. But, before you swear off heels or resign yourself to tennis shoes, try out an insert or adhesives supports. Although you still might not make it all day on your stilettos, they’ll add cushioning where you need it (under the ball or heel of the foot, most of the time), or they can help redistribute weight so you’re not putting so much pressure where it hurts. Superfeet are a great option because they’re removable and washable so you can move one set of inserts from shoe to shoe.

Heels are the most common culprit for this shoe dilemma. Because raising your heel up changes the position of the foot, your weight is redistributed forward. The extra forward pressure on the ball of your foot pushes your foot forward into the shoe. This can crunch the toes painfully in the top cap (making the shoe feel too small), or leave a gap around the heel cup, causing the heel to slip out of the shoe (making the shoe feel too big).
There are a few ways to fix this problem. A non-slip pad underneath the ball of the foot will keep the foot from sliding forward and improve fit, but won’t take much pressure off.
A high-heel insole by Superfeet draws the heel back in the shoe by redistributing your weight and stabilizing the heel. It’ll prevent your foot from sliding, and take the pressure off the ball of the foot. These insoles do take up some room in the shoe, however, so you might have to do some extra stretching. The insoles also raise up the heel a little in the shoe. If the heel cap isn’t high enough, you could slide right out! In that case, stick to the adhesive pads solution.

If you’ve got a little extra space in your shoes, insoles are a great way to fill that space out. Superfeet insoles come in a variety of levels of support and cushioning, so, if you’re able, try a few different style and see which one offers the best fit. In the event that you cannot try on several styles, Superfeet Green is a good bet for shoes will a lot of extra space. They offer the most cushioning and high arch support, so they take up the most amount of room in a shoe.
If you’d prefer to avoid adding extra support, Foot Petals make adhesive cushions for underneath and around the foot, as well as Sock Free Saviors and Give ‘Em the Boot, flat, cushioned, moisture wicking inserts.
Don’t be afraid to use insoles in conjunction with adhesive padding. Oftentimes we’ll use a Heavenly Heelz in conjunction with an insole to get the right fit.
These tips are also great for people with narrow feet who fit in shoes lengthwise, but find that shoes are often too wide or vertically spacious.

Just because your toes are touching the end of a shoe doesn’t mean you should give up immediately. If the toe-box is non-rigid, try the rubbing alcohol stretching methods in Part 1. Gently massaging the toe-box out with your hands can help as well, especially for narrow toe boxes squishing the pinkie toe.
Using methods to help pull the heel back in the shoe, as mentioned in Part 5, can help alleviate the pressure on your toes by better distributing your weight and positioning in the shoe. It may be that the shoe is the correct size, but your foot is sliding slightly forward.
Overall, don’t push it. If the shoe is painful and your toes are feeling too crushed, it’s probably time for a different size.


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