What Is a Shoe Stretcher? (Not a Shoe Tree)

Are you one to “fight through the pain” until your shoes break in?

Shoe Stretcher

Does your shoes dig into the back of your heel because they are brand new, but you think this is “normal”?

Do you come home everyday with throbbing feet?

Well the good news is that you do not need to suffer anymore.

If you’re an avid reader of my blog, you’ve probably heard me talk about shoe stretching.

Shoes can be stretched with a variety of things and does not require a special tool like the shoe stretcher (but it does have its place and I’ll explain why).

These little tools are incredibly handy and much better at stretching shoes than household items, which is what most people tend to use.

In this article I will discuss what a shoe stretcher is, and what it is not.


What is a Shoe Stretcher and What Does it Do?

A shoe stretcher is a tool that does exactly what it is called.

It stretchers shoes.

When shoes are too tight, they can be stretched about a full size so the wearer can wear them comfortably.

Why not just use household items like most people do?

Because it’s more difficult to spot stretch hot spots.

When you get a new pair of shoes, hot spots are places where blisters occur because of the rubbing and friction that happens in a specific area.

However, we can spot stretch that area with a stretcher and move it away from the skin to stop the rubbing.

Will stretching the shoe damage it?

In most cases it will not damage the shoe as long as they are not overly stretched. Although it does wear them out faster because you’re essentially helping them “break in”.

How long does it take to stretch?

It can take about 6 – 8 hours for the shoe to stretch the problem area. After 6 – 8 hours try it on, walk around and see if you still feel pain or discomfort.

Stretch it again if you do.

Do they really work?

Shoe stretchers definitely work as they are the proper tool when it comes to shoe stretching.

They have the ability to break in a brand new pair of shoes within 8 hours, sometimes less.

But yes they work and they are a great little tool to have in your shoe arsenal.

How does it work?

Unlike traditional household items like socks, freeze bags, or sock balls, a shoe stretcher is a tool (often made of wood) that is placed inside the shoe.

Once it’s in the shoe, turn the handle to begin stretching.

The shoe will start expanding and that’s how you know it’s working.

The tighter it is the more stretch it will get.

Leave it there for about 6 – 8 hours, come back and try it on to see if they feel better.

Why not just use household items like everyone else?

The reason stretchers are better than household items is because of the pins.

This allows you to spot stretch places giving you the most grief.

Are your new dress shoes digging into your ankles? Stretch it.

Are your new running sneakers giving you toe blisters? Stretch it.

That’s the beauty of shoe stretchers and why they are better than anything else, the fact that you can stretch problem areas.

No more “fighting through the pain”.

How to Find Hot Spots

So what do I mean when I say hot spot?

Well a hot spot is a problem area that causes the most pain or discomfort.

There are many different places for a hot spot to occur.

One might be material digging into your ankles, or a blister on your big toe, or a tight spot on the top of your foot.

The good news is that it’s fairly easy to find hot spots.

When you first get a new pair of shoes, wear them around the house for about 10 minutes.

It doesn’t take long before you feel a blister coming on or a tight spot in a specific area.

These are the places that you need to stretch as it will break them in faster and make it more comfortable.

So that’s what I mean when I say “hot spot”. It’s just a problem area.

Shoe Stretcher VS Shoe Tree

Wood Shoe Tree

Please do not mistake a shoe stretcher with a shoe tree.

A shoe tree is far different than a shoe stretcher.

And to be honest, I think people buy shoe trees thinking it’s going to stretch their shoes.

Shoe trees are completely different as they do not have the pins of a stretcher.

Shoe trees only hold the shape while you are away.

If you have expensive shoes sitting in storage for a few weeks or months at a time, it can warp and lose its shape.

However, a shoe tree allows it to hold its shape so when you come back many moons later, it’ll be just as comfortable as when you left it.

For some reason people think they are a stretching tool but that is a complete fallacy.

They do not stretch shoes, they help them hold its shape, that’s it.

Do You Need One?

I guess the biggest question on your mind is “do you actually need one or is it going to be a waste of time and money?”.

They’re not necessarily a requirement but in my opinion they are definitely handy tool and worth the money.

They can save lots of pain and discomfort when wearing a new pair of shoes.

We can sort out the problem as soon as it arrives and fix it before it gets worse.

When you buy a new shoe online and it’s 1/2 too small, you can make it 1/2 size bigger.

What if the width is too tight?

A shoe stretcher can stretch the width and leave the length as is, or vice versa.

It’s a little tool that does a lot of things and that’s why I definitely recommend one.

They last for years and will save you heartache in the long run, which you can’t put a price on.

What Shoe Stretcher Should You Get?

Shoe stretchers range in price from $15 up to $60+

There are many different ones with their own pros and cons.

However, I think you should go with a cheap one first just to see if you like them or not.

I found the XYH Shoe Stretcher and think it’s amazing for starters.

It has everything to stop hot spots in its tracks and can even stretch width and length.

It’s made with durable material considering the low price range and the one I recommend.

Wrapping Up

Well that wraps up this article on shoe stretchers.

Lets recap:

  • They fix pain and discomfort
  • They prevent pain because there’s no more “fighting through it”
  • They break in shoes at a much faster rate
  • They are perfect to have in your arsenal of shoe tools
  • Not a requirement but definitely going to make life easier
  • Shoe trees are not shoe stretchers

And that pretty much wraps up this article.

If you don’t have a shoe stretcher but need some pain relief asap, check out my shoe stretching guide.

Please let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or concerns.


Leave a Comment