This brilliant $17 gadget makes any pair of shoes comfortable for my wide feet

People with wide feet know that a bad pair of shoes can genuinely make or break your week. One outing in a pair of ill-fitting, too-narrow shoes, and you’ll be nursing an aftermath of blisters, bunions and aching arches for days to come.

I’ve had wide feet my whole life, but it wasn’t until I started getting older that I began to seek out ways to make my shoes fit better for my wide feet, especially since one foot has become bigger than the other as I’ve aged. 

Having wide feet has made shopping for shoes — one of my favorite past times! — a bit of a depressing affair. After hours of browsing for exactly the look, style and silhouette I wanted, I’d often end up disappointed when I realized the shoe was designed for narrow feet. Trying to “break them in” naturally would leave me with bloody heels, blistered toes — and worse — that would force me to wear nothing but cushioned sneakers or Birkenstocks for the next week. 

Eventually I realized that there was an easy solution to my problem. Why should my feet do the breaking in when I could buy a cheap device to do the painful breaking in part for me? That’s when I purchased a shoe and boot stretcher that I could use on everything from authentic leather cowboy boots to loafers and ballet flats.

I initially purchased these shoe stretchers to help me break in a pair of cowboy boots purchased from Planet Cowboy, a Nashville-based boot retailer. Though I was enamored with the boots, I knew it would take a lot more than one or two wears for the premium leather to break in and be comfortable enough for my wide feet to wear for several hours. 

These shoe stretchers work by widening the width of shoes and boots over time by simply twisting the handle to expand the width a little at a time. What I find especially useful is that the stretchers come with bunion expander plugs that you can add to each side of the stretcher to expand the shoes exactly where you need it at your foot’s widest points. The heightening pad expands your shoe at the top for a wider instep area.

A set of boot and shoe stretchers will revolutionize your relationship with your favorite footwear.

Brittany Nims

The brand recommends leaving the stretcher in shoes for 24- to 48-hours, but I’ve found that using it for longer leads to better results. I tend to keep the stretchers stored in my boots when I’m not actively trying to stretch out a new pair of shoes. Lately, I’ve even been using them in a new pair of ballet flats to make them comfortable to wear for long periods of time. 

While you can find lots of shoe stretchers online, I opted for these ones because I liked that the long handles are accessible for using with boots and that they don’t have a lot of frills and features. I wanted something extremely easy to use, straightforward to figure out and that would get the job done.

And I’m not alone. Over 600 Amazon reviewers agree that these shoe stretchers are well worth the money. 

“I own many pairs of expensive boots and a few of them are tight so I was looking for a product that would stretch the part of the boot where the toes are,” said one reviewer. “I finally found the right tool! Some of the shoe stretcher tools are too wide and don’t slide in the boot far enough to stretch out the toes. These are narrow and do the job.” 

Another reviewer said these stretchers are better than other versions they’ve tried. “I’ve had a few pairs in wood so I was reluctant to buy a set in plastic but they work much better than the wood. The wood tended to break after only a short time.”

Yet another 5-star reviewer said these stretchers are great for making shoes comfortable with bunions. “Such a great fix for shoes that don’t fit right. I bought a new pair of good quality black ankle boots but my right foot was always sore after wearing due to a bunion. This fixed that. Easy to use. Now I can happily wear them. Great to have on hand for any shoes that need a little adjustment.”

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