The 10 Best Shoe Trees
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in March of 2015. No, shoes do not grow on trees, but you probably wish they did if you've ever had a few flatten in your closet after stuffing in one pair too many. If your footwear is taking a premature beating or you are suffering from some pinching when wearing dress shoes, these options are ideal for maintaining shape and relieving pressure points to keep you comfortably on your feet. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best shoe tree on Amazon.
Getting The Best Fit From Your Shoes
Taking the shoe break-in process slowly can prevent the formation of blisters, which can be so painful they force you to abandon the shoes altogether.
The skin at the back of your heels are particularly prone to blistering when adjusting to the fit of a new shoe, but it will quickly toughen and resist additional damage.
A pair of shoes should look great and feel even better. A shoe's primary purpose is to support and protect your foot, and a well-made shoe will reduce the fatigue and soreness you feel after long hours spent standing or walking. But even the finest shoes are rarely comfortable the first time you put them on your feet. Every shoe, ranging from a pair of women's dress heels to hiking boots to a casual pair of loafers, requires a period of breaking in before they will be their most comfortable.
To break in shoes without causing pain or even injury to your feet, you can initially wear the new shoes for short periods of time. Wear them for ten to fifteen minutes while walking and standing at your home or office, switching to well-worn comfortable shoes (or simply remaining barefoot or in socks) while in the interim. Remember that just as your new shoes must adjust to your feet, so too must your feet adjust to a new pair of shoes.
The skin at the back of your heels are particularly prone to blistering when adjusting to the fit of a new shoe, but it will quickly toughen and resist additional damage. Taking the shoe break-in process slowly can prevent the formation of blisters, which can be so painful they force you to abandon the shoes altogether.
If your new shoes require any significant stretching out before they will be comfortable, there are many methods beyond simply wearing them that you can try. Applying heat to a leather shoe using a hair dryer can help soften the material, making it more pliant when you slide your foot in immediately following the warming process. On quite the opposite end of the spectrum, you can also use ice to help stretch a shoe.
This approach involves sliding baggies filled with water into your shoes and then placing the shoes in the freezer. As the water freezes, it will expand and slowly, steadily, and evenly stretch out the shoe. This method risks water damage, though, and is a rather involved undertaking. (Some people may also balk at the idea of putting shoes near their frozen foods, though this can be mitigated by placing the shoes in a larger plastic bag.)
By far the simplest, most reliable way to stretch out a pair of shoes other than wearing them is to use a shoe tree. These purpose-built items can quickly help to make your shoes more comfortable, and they can help shoes retain their shape and appearance even after years of use.
Choosing A Shoe Tree For Comfort
All shoe trees are designed to stretch your shoe across their long axis, which is to say from the toe box (the area that surrounds and protects the toes) to the heel. This type of stretch can help reduce the pressure you feel on your toes, which is usually the area with the most pronounced friction and discomfort caused by newer shoes. However, anyone with a wider foot, irregularities to their toe shape, or with a foot given to discomfort in any other areas, a shoe tree that merely stretches the shoe in length may not suffice.
Make sure you select the right specialty shoe tree for heels or dress shoes, and make sure to note whether or not the tree you're considering is gender-specific or not.
Many shoe trees are adjustable to spread out in the shoe's toe box, widening the shoe to more comfortably accommodate its wearer's foot. Shoe trees offering this type of stretching can potentially help even those with wider feet to enjoy regular shoes. Some shoe trees even come with additional hardware that can be attached to create customized relief areas, stretching out a shoe right where you need it.
Make sure you select the right specialty shoe tree for heels or dress shoes, and make sure to note whether or not the tree you're considering is gender-specific or not. Also consider the shoe tree's material: cedar wood can reduce odors and draw out moisture, resulting in a dry, comfortable shoe when you're ready to wear it.
And if you plan to use your tree to help a shoe maintain its shape between wearings, make sure to slightly reduce the tension settings you used during its break in stage: once a shoe fits your foot comfortably, it's unlikely it will shrink again, so there is no need to apply excess pressure during its storage.
Choosing A Shoe Tree For Pain Relief
Shoe comfort is important for everyone, but it is critical for those with feet afflicted by bunions, arch issues, or any other ailment caused by genectics, injury, age, surgery, and so forth. Using a shoe tree to reduce the pressure a shoe puts on the compromised area is far better than simply trying to wear the shoe and fight through the pain of the breaking in process.
This is especially true with the all-too-common and painful condition of bunions, which can be caused by a number of issues, especially by the chronic use of tight shoes. A bunion can always get worse, leading to more pain, less mobility, and potentially the need for surgical intervention. To help reduce exacerbation of your bunions, use a shoe tree that can stretch out your shoe's toe box and keep the pressure off of your big toe joint.
If you have arch or mid-foot issues, make sure to choose a shoe tree that can stretch the upper section of the shoe, reducing the pressure on your arches and accommodating any orthotic inserts you might require. Consider consulting your podiatrist prior to selecting a shoe tree or even to get advice about the process of making your shoes more customized and comfortable.
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