Have you ever put on a great pair of shoes, then hobbled around barefoot later because they gave you blisters? Here are my best tips to help make your shoes more comfy and avoid blisters!
Blisters are caused by friction, or when your shoes rub too much against your skin. This can be cause by shoes that are either too loose or too tight, so I’ll be sharing tips for getting them to fit just right.
Breaking Shoes In
For me, all shoes except sneakers need to be broken in a bit before wearing for a full day with lots of walking or moving around. I test them out indoors at home – if there are any serious fit issues, you can return them without damaging the shoes or dirtying the soles. Try your shoes out on hard floors, carpet, and stairs.
I like to put them all on with a thin pair of socks to help them mold to your feet. This also lets you discover any potential friction or pain points without getting a blister right away.
If the shoes are really tight, you can try a shoe stretcher or get them professionally stretched.
Learn Your Feet
I have narrow heels, long toes, and my left foot is a half size smaller than my right foot. That said, my foot tends to slip out of shoes and will usually only fit one foot really comfortably. The first thing to combat this is to generally learn what kinds of shoes do or do not work for you, such as wide/narrow width, specific brands, wide calf, etc. For myself, I don’t wear shoes with a wide heel (e.g., Vans) and get a better fit with ankle straps or lace-up shoes versus completely slip on shoes.
I’ve also used shoe inserts or similar accessories since childhood. A common one is a stick-on heel grip to make the back of your shoe a bit narrower and provide a better grip. I prefer the soft heel grips with a padded end versus the flatter ones. For high heels, a ball of foot cushion can improve both the fit and comfort of your shoes, while I like a 3/4 length insole for flat shoes. I prefer the fabric or suedelike items over silicone ones because they are less slippery while wearing.
My absolute favorite add-on for shoe comfort is lambs wool padding. This is kind of hard to find in stores but is easy to find online. These are literally small packs of lambs wool, and they provide a great, customizable cushion for your shoes. Ballerinas stuff this in the ends of their toe shoes. I typically cut off a 2-4 inch section for each foot (depends how much space is in your shoes), ball it up, and then stick it in the toes of any shoes that need a tighter fit. This is particularly great for high heels or pointed-toe shoes where your foot tends to slide forward.
The lambs wool will eventually mold to the shoes and your toes, providing a really soft, custom fit cushion for your feet. For me, this also ensures my heels fit tight enough against the back of my shoes. I can add a bit more padding for my left foot versus the right. It is also moisture wicking to keep sweat off your feet without smelling. I only put this in the toes of my shoes, but have heard other people stick a bit under their insoles for arch support.
But what about the other parts of my feet?
I’ve got two last recommendations. The first is moleskin padding, which is a flannel-like super band-aid that can be used on your skin or shoes to provide a protective layer against friction. Cut a small piece as needed to protect the area of your foot the shoe rubs against. I typically put it on my skin, but others opt to put it directly on the shoe for longer use. If you already have a blister, do NOT apply the adhesive to your blister. You can cut a hole out of the middle if needed to avoid putting the fabric on any blisters.
The next one is an aerosol anti-blister spray like preheels. I spray this on my feet for special occasions like weddings, where I need to be in high heels for long periods of time. There is absolutely no chafing, blistering, or even as much pain from my shoes! You spray it on your foot on any areas of concern, let it dry for a couple minutes, then you’re done! This stuff works wonders but I do want to be transparent with a few caveats: it’s a little pricey (you get a travel-sized hair spray can), it smells terrible when wet, and you need to scrub it off well afterward or it will start to peel off and your feet look flaky.
There you have it! Try these out and hopefully your feet will thank you!