- How to Stretch Shoes That are Too Small

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Written by Jessica Cruel and Talia Abbas

Precautionary steps to take before buying shoes that are too small:

Shoes should never be too tight, or too loose, Suzanne Levine, M.D., board-certified podiatric surgeon, and author of My Feet are Killing Me, tells SELF. Your shoe should have about 1 centimeter of space—about the width of your index finger—in front of your longest toe (usually the same foot as your dominant hand) so your toes have room to move, Levine says.

She also recommends shopping for shoes towards the end of the day, because your feet will be slightly larger. Then walk around the store with the new shoes on for a few minutes. If they hurt or press, don’t buy them. Likewise, if either foot is swimming in the shoe so that walking is awkward, don’t buy them.

After purchasing new shoes, you can walk on carpet in your home for a few hours to make even more sure of the fit—the carpet will prevent wear to the sole of the shoe. “Especially with athletic footwear, wearing two pairs of socks can reduce the chance of abrasions, irritations, blisters,” Levine says. Cushioning pads in pressure areas, like your heel or the side of your big toe, can help.

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