How to Stretch the Toe of a Shoe

Shoe stretchers increase the width and depth of a tight toe box.
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Careful with those tootsies, twinkle toes -- you might choose fashion over comfort, but cramming your digits into a too-tight toe box can do some dynamite damage over time. Wake up to the woes of a hammertoe -- this permanently bent middle toe throws your weight off balance and causes blisters, corns and joint pain. Avoid the foot fuss and stave off potential surgery down the road by stretching your too-small shoes to fit.

Douse a cotton swab in shoe-stretching spray or dip it in rubbing alcohol, then work the cotton swab into the tight spots inside the shoe's toe box to help loosen the material.

Adjust a shoe stretcher to your shoe's size. Twist the main knob clockwise until the heel section meets the toe section. Twist the handle counterclockwise so that the toe box sections meet in the middle.

Compare the tight spots in the shoe to the shoe stretcher and locate expansion holes in the stretcher's toe section. Insert expansion pieces into the holes to customize the fit.

Slide the stretcher into the shoe. Turn the handle clockwise to widen the stretcher's toe box. Stop turning the handle when you feel resistance from the shoe's material.

Leave the stretcher inside the shoe for two days. Turn the stretcher handle counterclockwise to close the toe box and pull the stretcher out of the shoe.

Test the shoe fit. If the shoe is still too tight, stretch it again.

  • For small tight spots in the toe box, work a blunt tool, like a pen, into the shoe material until it loosens.
  • Discard shoes that do not stretch enough, or cannot stretch at all, such as those made from plastic. Select a larger size.

A writer with a Bachelor of Science in English and secondary education, but also an interest in all things beautiful, Melissa J. Bell has handed out beauty and fashion advice since she could talk -- and for the last six years, write for online publications like Daily Glow and SheBudgets.