Will running shoes stretch out? (5 Step-by-step Methods) - 2023/ featured image

Will Running Shoes Stretch Out? (5 Step-By-Step Methods) – 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Stretchability: Running shoes, especially those made of materials like mesh, can stretch over time.
  • Finding the Right Fit: Ensure you’ve chosen the right shoe by measuring your feet, evaluating your running style, and testing different models.
  • Stretching Methods:
    • At Home: Wear them with thick socks and flex your feet.
    • Ziplock Bag: Freeze water-filled bags inside shoes.
    • Heat: Use a blow dryer on medium.
    • Shoe Stretcher: Apply pressure using specialized devices.
    • Professional Help: Consider expert shoe stretching services.
    • DIY Trick: Use a peeled potato inside the shoe overnight.
  • Benefits: Proper fit leads to enhanced comfort, better performance, and a longer shoe lifespan.
  • Stretching Time: Depending on the method and shoe material, it can take days to weeks for shoes to stretch.

you someone who has just bought a brand-new pair of running shoes but is worried about whether they will stretch out or not?

Well, the answer is Yes they will!

But how will running shoes stretch out? In this blog post, we’ll walk you through 5 step-by-step methods that will help you make them stretch out to be comfortable and perfect.

So sit back, relax, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s get started!

Will running shoes stretch out?

As mentioned earlier the answer is “Yes”, running shoes can stretch out over time with use, especially if they are made from materials such as mesh or knit that is more flexible than traditional leather or synthetic materials.

However, this stretching is usually limited to the upper part of the shoe and is unlikely to significantly change the fit or size of the shoe.

On the other hand, running shoes can also become more flexible and easier to wear as you use them, particularly if they have tight or stiff soles.

This can benefit runners who prefer a more natural and comfortable feel when running.

How to choose the best-fitting running shoes? Step-by-step

Before we jump into the methods of stretching out your running shoes. It’s probably best to know that you have purchased the correct shoes. If you have, skip this part.

If you haven’t purchased them, then take these steps before buying.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to choose the best-fitting running shoes:

1. Determine your foot type: The first step in choosing running shoes is to determine your foot type.

There are three main foot types: neutral, overpronation, and under pronation.

You can determine your foot type by examining the wear pattern on your old shoes, consulting with a podiatrist, or using a foot scanner.

2. Measure your feet: Measure both of your feet while standing, as they may be slightly different sizes.

Use a Brannock device or a measuring tape to measure the length and width of your feet.

3. Consider your running style: Your running style can also influence your choice of running shoes.

Consider factors such as the terrain you run on, your running distance, and your running pace.

4. Try on different shoes: It is important to try on several different models and sizes of running shoes to find the best fit.

Wear the socks you plan to wear while running and try on shoes at the end of the day when your feet are the most swollen.

Walk around the store and jog in place to ensure that the shoes feel comfortable and secure.

5. Check the fit: Check the fit of the shoes by making sure that there is enough space in the toe box to wiggle your toes comfortably and that the shoes feel snug around the heel and midfoot.

You should also ensure that there is no slipping or rubbing in any part of the shoe.

6. Test them out: Once you have found a pair of running shoes that feel comfortable and fit well, take them for a test run.

Start with short distances and gradually increase the distance to ensure that the shoes are comfortable and supportive of your running style.

By following these steps, you can find the best-fitting running shoes for your needs and preferences, and enjoy a comfortable and injury-free running experience.

How to stretch out running shoes (5 Methods)

Method 1: Wearing them at home

Stretching your running shoes by wearing them at home is a simple and easy method that can be done without any special equipment. Here are the steps on how to stretch running shoes by wearing them at home:

  • Wear them indoors: Wear your running shoes indoors, preferably on a carpeted surface. You can wear them while doing household chores or simply walking around the house.
  • Use socks: Wear a thick pair of socks while wearing your shoes to help stretch them out. This will put more pressure on the shoes and help them stretch more easily.
  • Flex your feet: Flex your feet while wearing the shoes to help stretch out the material. You can also wiggle your toes or move your feet in circles to help loosen up the shoes.
  • Walk around: Take a walk around your house while wearing the shoes to help break them in and stretch them out. Walk up and down stairs or walk around outside if you have a safe, flat surface.
  • Repeat the process: Repeat this process as many times as necessary until your running shoes have stretched to your desired fit.

Method 2: Ziplock bag

The Ziplock bag method is a popular technique for stretching out running shoes. It involves filling a Ziplock bag with water, placing it inside the shoe, and then putting the shoe in the freezer. As the water freezes, it expands, stretching out the shoe. Here’s how to do the Ziplock bag method:

  1. Fill a Ziplock bag with water: Fill a sandwich-sized Ziplock bag with water, leaving a little bit of space at the top to allow for expansion.
  2. Place the Ziplock bag inside the shoe: Place the Ziplock bag inside the shoe, making sure that it is positioned in the area that needs stretching. For example, if the toe box feels tight, place the bag in the toe box.
  3. Put the shoe in the freezer: Put the shoe with the Ziplock bag inside the freezer and leave it there until the water freezes completely, which usually takes about 6-8 hours.
  4. Remove the shoe from the freezer: Take the shoe out of the freezer and let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes to allow the ice to thaw slightly.
  5. Remove the Ziplock bag: Carefully remove the Ziplock bag from the shoe.
  6. Test the fit: Try on the shoe to see if it feels looser and more comfortable. If the shoe still feels too tight, you can repeat the process with another Ziplock bag.

It’s important to note that the Ziplock bag method may not work for all types of running shoes and may not be effective for major adjustments.

Additionally, it is recommended to use caution when using this method, as water may damage certain materials and cause discoloration or deformation.

Method 3: Heat and stretch

The heat method for stretching out running shoes is a simple and effective way of ensuring they fit perfectly, without compromising their durability.

  1. First, put on a thick pair of socks with the shoes and then aim a blow dryer at the tight spots.
  2. Use medium heat to soften the shoe until it fits comfortably, usually taking a couple of minutes to stretch the shoe a little more.
  3. Keep the hair dryer’s nozzle moving to avoid damaging the leather.
  4. Once the shoe is heated up, you can use your hands to further stretch the material by pressing and pushing on it in the areas where it’s too tight.
  5. Be careful not to overstretch the shoe, as this can cause permanent damage.
  6. If you feel the shoe start to buckle or crease, it’s best to stop and let it cool down before continuing.

Watch the video below for the Demo.

Method 4: Shoe stretcher

Using a shoe stretcher is a reliable and effective way to stretch out your running shoes. Here are the steps on how to use a shoe stretcher:

  1. Choose the right size: Make sure to choose a shoe stretcher that fits the size of your shoe. There are universal stretchers that fit all sizes, but it’s best to get one that is specifically designed for your shoe size.
  2. Adjust the stretcher: Adjust the stretcher to the appropriate size and width using the stretch knobs or sliders on the stretcher.
  3. Insert the stretcher: Insert the stretcher into the shoe and make sure it is sitting firmly inside the shoe.
  4. Apply pressure: Turn the stretch knobs or sliders to apply pressure to the areas of the shoe that need stretching. It’s important to apply pressure gradually and not to overstretch the shoes.
  5. Leave the stretcher in place: Leave the stretcher in the shoe for several hours or overnight to allow the shoe to stretch and conform to the shape of the stretcher.
  6. Remove the stretcher: Remove the stretcher from the shoe and try on the shoe to see if it fits better. If you need more stretching, you can repeat the process.

Method 5: Professional shoe repair

If you are not in the mood to do any of the methods mentioned above and you think it’s better to let a Pro handle it. It may cost you some bucks but it’s a wise choice to make.

Professional shoe stretching services are a great way to ensure a comfortable fit.

Whether you’re running or just looking for a more comfortable shoe, a professional stretching service can help.

Most cobblers or shoe repair shops offer stretching services, which usually cost between $25 and $50 depending on the size of the job.

Read a few more ways of stretching running shoes in this detailed, and informative article.

Bonus DIY Trick

The peeled potato trick is a method for stretching out tight-fitting shoes, including running shoes.

The process involves peeling a potato, placing it inside the shoe, and leaving it overnight to help stretch the material.

Here are the steps to using the peeled potato trick:

  1. Peel a potato: Take a potato and use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin.
  2. Insert the potato: Insert the peeled potato into the toe box of the shoe, pushing it as far down as possible.
  3. Let it sit overnight: Leave the shoe with the potato inside overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
  4. Remove the potato: In the morning, remove the potato from the shoe and try on the shoes to see if they have stretched enough to fit more comfortably.

The idea behind this trick is that the moisture from the potato will soften the shoe’s material, making it more pliable and easier to stretch.

While this method is not as effective as a shoe stretcher or professional stretching service, it can be a helpful DIY option for mild stretching needs.

However, keep in mind that it may not work for all types of shoes, and it’s important to avoid over-stretching the material, as this can damage the shoe.

Watch the video below for all the methods mentioned above.

Benefits of stretching out running shoes

Stretching out running shoes can offer several benefits, including:

Increased comfort: As shoes become more flexible and mold to the shape of your feet, they may become more comfortable to wear.

Improved performance: Running shoes that fit well and feel comfortable can help you perform better and reduce the risk of injuries.

Longer lifespan: By stretching out your running shoes, you may be able to extend their lifespan and get more use out of them.

How Long Does It Take For Running Shoes To Loosen Up?

The amount of time it takes for running shoes to loosen up can vary depending on the material of the shoes, how frequently they are worn, and the stretching methods used.

However, it can generally take a few days to a few weeks for running shoes to loosen up and conform to your feet.

If you’re using a stretching method like the water and freezer method or the heat and stretch method, you may see results more quickly.

However, remember that these methods can also potentially damage the shoes if not done properly.

When using a shoe stretcher or professional stretching service, you may see results more gradually over time as the shoes are stretched more gently and gradually.

In any case, it’s important to be patient and avoid over-stretching the shoes, as this can lead to discomfort or damage.


In conclusion, running shoes will definitely stretch with time, but it is not recommended to rely on this alone. The best way to ensure a good fit is to buy the right size of shoe in the first place.

If you do find that your shoes are too tight, then opt for the tried and tested methods of stretching your shoes with the Ziplock method, use specific tools like shoe stretchers, or go down the DIY route.

Ultimately it is up to you which method you choose but no matter what, always ensure that you take proper care when attempting any kind of shoe stretching procedure.


Is it better to get running shoes a size bigger?

No, it is not generally recommended to get running shoes a size bigger.
Running shoes should fit snugly but not be too tight, allowing for some room in the toe box and preventing slippage or blisters.

How tight should running shoes fit?

Running shoes should fit snugly with half to one thumb’s width of space, not too loose or too tight to avoid chafing and injury.

Should sneakers feel tight at first?

Sneakers may feel slightly snug when first worn, but they should not feel painfully tight.
They should gradually break in and become more comfortable with wear.

Can I stretch shoes a half size?

It may be possible to stretch shoes a half size, but it depends on the type of material and construction of the shoe.
David Mesquita, owner of a leather repair boutique in New York City stated “stretching your shoes can add a quarter- to a half-size in space

What happens if you wear shoes that are too small?

Wearing shoes that are too small can cause a range of problems such as blisters, calluses, corns, and ingrown toenails.
It can also lead to foot pain, discomfort, and even injury over time.

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