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Will Shoe Stretching Improve Athletic Performance?

We all know the importance of stretching before exercising. It improves circulation, makes the muscles more flexible, and provides a better range of motion. Those who stretch before any type of athletic performance tend to do better. But what if you are still performing poorly even with quite a bit of stretching before exercise? Is there anything else that could be causing this?

Do You Need to Stretch Your Shoes?

As well as stretching your body, maybe you need to consider stretching your shoes too. Yes, you heard that right. It may be that your shoes are affecting your athletic performance. And not in the way you would like.

Contrary to popular belief, tight-fitting shoes are not going to improve your performance. In fact, if your shoes are tight and uncomfortable, your performance is bound to be negatively affected. When you are taking part in a specific sport or exercise, the type of shoe you are wearing is especially important, particularly because of the pressure that is placed on your legs, ankles, and feet. Any running or jumping is going to be placing a force on your legs and feet, so the right shoes are a must.

Far from benefitting from a tight pair of shoes, you might find that your performance improves if you stretch them slightly to ensure a more comfortable fit. Remember, the more exercise you do, the hotter your feet are going to get and the more they are likely to swell. Having some room in the shoes to allow for this will make you feel more comfortable and will inevitably improve your performance. Your shoes need to feel secure but not tight.

How to Stretch Your Shoes

If you have purchased a pair of shoes that either feel tight or a bit snug when you first put them on, you may need to stretch them slightly to allow for your feet to swell. There are a few ways to do this, but by far the easiest is with a good shoe stretch spray. The folk at Salt Lake City-based ShoeFresh say that all you need to do when using such a spray is to put a few pumps into each shoe before wearing them around for a little bit. The spray will get to work encouraging your shoes to stretch and mold around the shape of your feet.

You can also use other methods to stretch your shoes. For example, you may want to place damp rolled up pieces of newspaper inside the shoes for a few days. As the newspaper dries, it will expand and encourage the shoes to stretch.

If you have time, you could put on one or two pairs of thick socks and then put the shoes on. Fasten the laces for a comfortable fit and then use a hair dryer on a medium setting to heat the shoes. Only apply heat from the dryer in short 30 second bursts to avoid them getting too hot.

Shoe stretchers, or shoe trees are also commonly known as, are used to stretch shoes. These specially designed products can be placed inside the shoe and adjusted to stretch the shoes to the desired length and width.


A commonly held belief is that tight shoes can help to improve athletic performance when the truth is that it can actually hinder it. If your shoes feel uncomfortable during or after exercise, it is likely that they are too tight and should therefore be stretched for a more comfortable fit. You can do this in many ways, including a shoe stretch spray, shoe trees, or rolled up newspaper.

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