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How To Break in New Walking Shoes: A Step-by-Step Guide

Walking is one of the most effective forms of exercise. It can help you explore your local surroundings whether you’re at home or on holiday, and it can keep you fit and healthy. Without breaking in new shoes, walking can go from fun, to painful and irritating. Your walking shoes should feel like a second skin once you’ve worn them in.

We know breaking in shoes isn’t rocket science, but doing a bit of research can give you  some tips and tricks. From softening leather, preventing blisters and rubs, to avoiding foot and heel pain, we want to help you get the most out of your walking shoes.

Whether you have classic trainer style walking shoes, or all-terrain hiking boots, let’s talk about exactly what you need to know to get the best out of them.

The importance of having the right walking shoes 

We’re going to tread a fine line here, because it’s a real toss up choosing the right shoe for you. The trouble is - with so many different foot shapes and shoe shapes, you really do need the right walking shoe that fits you. Your walking shoes are there to protect your feet (and body) from the ground beneath you. This prevents injuries, blisters and common foot issues, so having the right pair of shoes will set you up for painless walking.

How to choose the right walking shoes for you

Let’s take a look at what to keep in mind when you’re choosing new walking shoes:

What are your foot characteristics?

You may already know that you have some unique foot characteristics. These can include things such as high arches, wide feet, heel striker and over pronation. Knowing these things makes it a lot easier to find a shoe that’s right for you. 

The beauty about finding a walking shoe that compliments your natural walking style (by offering the correct support in the correct place) is that it will make your walking experience go from good to great. If you end up in the wrong shoes for your feet, you can open yourself up to all sorts of problems and injuries. 

Where are you going to be walking?

You’ll want to consider where you’ll mostly use your walking shoes. Is it your local reserve, is it your neighbourhood pavement loop, or it is in the bush? Walking shoes have different types of outsoles. This is to make sure you get long lasting wear out of the type of terrain you’re walking over, and to provide different types of traction. For example, a grippy sole for trail or off-road walking will be heavier and more durable. On the other hand, less grip for pavement walking will be lighter and more flexible. Generally speaking, walking on the pavement is harder on the feet and body, therefore a more cushioned shoe is worth exploring.

Prioritise comfort over fashion

Let’s talk about the age-old debate of comfort versus style. 

In an ideal world, you’ll love the feel and the look of your new shoes but believe us, looks aren't everything. If your feet really don’t like the way a pair of walking shoes feel, we can almost guarantee they’ll go into the back of the cupboard. So yes, it’s a bonus if you like the look of them, but making sure they feel okay when you slide them on, is where your priority should be. 

Now that we understand the importance of having the right shoes for our feet, and how to choose the right shoes, we can get into how to break them in. 

A step-by-step guide on breaking in new walking shoes

Let’s set you (and your new walking shoes) up for a long lasting, wonderful relationship. Stick to this eight point guide that aims to keep you pain free and loving life. 

1. Start slowly

This isn’t going to be new information, but the best thing you can do with new walking shoes is start walking around the house. Walking in them for 30 - 60 minutes, for the first few days, will soften the materials. This goes for softening leather, which is useful for breaking in hiking and walking boots. The more you can wear them before taking them out for longer periods , the better.

2. Pay attention to fit 

If there are any tight areas, rubbing, or your shoes just don’t feel right, then there are things you can do to prevent them getting worse. This is also the time to figure out if they’re too tight or too loose. Walking shoes should feel snug, but there should also enough room for your toes to wiggle. 

3. Gradually increase wear time 

When your shoes are becoming more comfortable, you can increase the amount of time you wear them each day. In and around home is great, and you’ll want to keep making sure there are no major rubbing points. You’ll also want to pay attention to any other potential niggles such as ankle and knee pain.

4. Wear thick socks

Your walking shoes will slightly mould to your foot shape over time. To speed this up, you can try wearing thick socks to gently expand the material. This will help the shoe fit your foot better. Thick socks can also give you the extra protection you need, to prevent blisters from new shoes. This method works well when trying to soften leather shoes. 

5. Use blister prevention products

Blisters can be nasty things, but this doesn’t mean you have to give up on your new shoes! Blisters can appear for all sorts of reasons, and the good news is there are ways of getting through the blister phase. You might find that once your shoes are broken in you won’t get blisters, but in the meantime you can use blister pads or moleskin to help prevent them forming in those rubbing areas. You can also try performance socks that have been designed to avoid blisters. These have double layers in those common blister areas and moisture wicking properties, making them ideal for wearing new shoes in. 

6. Walk on different surfaces 

When taking your walking shoes out on their first outings, try walking on different terrains including pavement, grass gravel and stairs. This helps ensure that your shoes are comfortable and supportive in all conditions. Doing this also confirms if the shoes you’ve chosen are the right type of shoe for the terrain you’re walking on.

7. Let your feet do the talking

Believe it or not, your feet know best when it comes to breaking in new shoes, and they’ll soon let you know if something’s up. Throughout the breaking-in process, listen to your feet and pay attention to any signs of discomfort or pain. The sooner you can identify any ill-fitting shoes, the better. If you experience persistent discomfort, stop wearing the shoes and reassess the fit. 

8. Be patient

Rest assured some shoes can be sore to start with but if they’re the right fit for you just give it some time. Your new shoes need adequate time to get to know your foot shape, so a little patience is needed. And bear in mind rushing this process can lead to pain and potential injuries. 

Find your perfect walking shoe with Rebel Sport 

Giving yourself the time to break in new shoes will set you up for a way better walking experience. Finding the right shoes for your feet should be a priority, taking into account your natural walking style, your foot type and what you’re going to be using them for.

When following our step-by-step guide, you’re setting yourself up for success and minimising any potential niggles and discomfort. 

Remember to start slowly, pay attention to fit, gradually increase wear time, wear thick socks, use blister prevention products, walk on different surfaces, listen to your feet, and above all, be patient.

Find your perfect walking shoes at Rebel Sport.