When to use shoe stretchers

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shoe stretcher
This is what a shoe stretcher looks like
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If you know when to use shoe stretchers they can save the day and your feet!

Do feed actually grow? It seems like it. Those favorite high heels of yours that fit perfectly last season are too tight now. Don't despair. Shoes can be stretched. The time to use shoe stretchers is when your footwear no longer fits or a bunion or corn is making it impossible for you to wear the footwear comfortably.

A shoe stretcher is also called a shoe expander. It is typically made of cedar or maple and looks like a genuine-sized foot.

The expander consists of a steel bar that runs through the wooden foot, which is constructed in two halves. The halves are rotated apart by cranking the steel rod handle, which is what stretches the footwear. 

If suffering from bunions or corns, there are expanders featuring small holes called 'ortho plugs' which accommodate foot abnormalities. These protuberances allow additional stretching given to the exact area of the footwear where most needed.

Sometimes a person needs his footwear stretched in width as well as length. A two-way expander is available. It consists of a separate heel that rolls autonomously from the forward section of the wooden foot. This kind of expander also works well when footwear is too short rather than too tight. It both widens and lengthens the footwear.

Tips for using a shoe stretcher

  • You can use an expander in both the right and left shoes. However, if wanting to save time, buy two expanders.
  • It is recommended that you use stretching oil on leather footwear before expanding them. Using oil softens leather and makes stretching easier.
  • Expanders are made specifically for high heels and for high top shoes, including cowboy boots. The high top expander consists of handles making it possible to reach down into the boot.
  • For those with large calves, finding it difficult to get their legs into boots, purchase a calf-expander, which widens the width of the boot's upper portion.
  • Some expanders include inserts targeting precise spots needing extra expansion to accommodate a person's foot and any issues (bunions, corns, etc.) present.

Supportive Footwear 

Remember to wear good, supportive shoes so you can maintain the health of your feet. High heels wreak havoc on feet. If you are a high heel fanatic know that hammertoes, bunions, stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, ligament damage, ankle sprains and tendinitis may all be in your future. 

Nine out of 10 women's foot deformaties are linked to bad footwear. Additionally, high heel devotees develop stiffer and thicker Achilles tendons, shortened calf muscles and are at higher risk for acquiring knee osteoarthritis and joint degeneration than those who don't wear this type of footwear. Food for thought.

If you are determined to wear high heels, make sure they fit properly, are stretched adequately and provide support.

It's an Emergency! 

If you are desperate and need the shoes to fit right now but do not have an expander, you can use a hair blow-dryer to stretch footwear.

Put on dense socks and squeeze your feet into the footwear.

Turn on the dryer and blow hot air over the footwear for several minutes. While doing this, wiggle your toes and move your feet inside the footwear as much as you can.

After a few minutes, turn off the dryer. Leave your sock-clad feet in the footwear until the shoe has cooled down. 

Remove the socks and try the shoes on. Hopefully, they have expanded enough to be wearable. if not, do the whole process again. This may make your shoes just a wee bit more comfortable. For good long term wearability, invest a shoe stretchers.

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