How Do I Choose the Best Shoe Stretcher?

Some shoe stretchers are made specifically to protect bunions.
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  • Written By: Cindy Quarters
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 01 July 2014
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A shoe stretcher is a device that fits into your shoes and pushes against them to create more room inside the shoe. While it works well if the shoe is just a little bit too tight, trying to stretch a shoe too much can result in damage to the shoe. To choose the best device for your needs, look for one that is designed for the type of shoes you wear, is adjustable, and that has the extra features that allow you to accommodate any foot irregularities you might have.

Most often a shoe stretcher will be designed for either men’s or women’s shoes. The overall shape of shoes is typically related to whether they are designed for men or women, so if you wish to adjust women’s shoes buy the shoe stretcher for women, and the same for men’s shoes. This provides the best adjustment for each type, especially through the toe area.

Deciding whether to buy a plastic or a wooden shoe stretcher involves personal taste to some extent; wooden inserts may be of higher quality than their plastic counterparts, though this may not always be true. Look closely at the quality of the materials used and how the parts are held together. Since the pieces will be under a lot of strain when they are in use, you are better off choosing those devices made of sturdy materials that will be able to withstand repeated use.


While it is possible to buy a single shoe stretcher, it is best to buy them in pairs so you can stretch both of your shoes at the same time, which helps to keep them looking and feeling even. In most cases you should also look for stretchers that have a wide heel piece to avoid putting undue strain on a small area of the heel. A very small fitting may push overly hard on the heel seam, causing the stitching to loosen or even to come apart, or it may make uneven dents in the heel of the shoe.

An adjustable shoe stretcher allows you to control the length and width of the device, which lets you determine just how much change you will make. While most times you can set the length, not all shoe stretchers allow for much variation in the width. One that lets you make adjustments in both directions is usually a better choice than one that is very limited in scope.

Another important consideration for many people is accessories that allow the shoe stretcher to make room for problems such as bunions and corns. These conditions can be very painful, and the constant rubbing and pressure caused by shoes can make walking a chore and cause even more pain, broken or irritated skin, or other types of discomfort. The best shoe stretcher will have holes in many places on the surface, and will come with wooden or plastic bunion bumps that fit into these holes. These bumps push the shoe out in a specific area, creating a much more comfortable fit for people with foot irregularities.


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