How to Break in Running Shoes?

Breaking in a new pair of running shoes can be tricky, and getting it wrong can lead to discomfort, blisters, and even more serious issues like corns and heat rash.

But it’s not just about avoiding pain; properly broken-in shoes can also improve your running performance.

This blog post is designed to guide you through the essential ways to make your new shoes comfortable and performance-ready. We’ll cover some quick methods to help you break into your shoes when you run out of time.

Let’s explore why breaking in running shoes matters.

Why Breaking In Running Shoes Matters?

Before we dive into the how-to’s of breaking into your new running shoes, it’s essential to understand the importance of breaking into shoes.

Foot Comfort and Running Efficiency

Every runner values foot comfort, not just to avoid blisters but to ensure each step is efficient and injury-free. Comfortable feet lead to consistent strides, optimal pace, and longer runs without fatigue. At the core of this comfort and efficiency is a well-fitted, broken-in pair of running shoes.

New shoes, regardless of their quality, often possess an initial stiffness. This can disrupt natural foot movement, leading to stride inefficiencies. Breaking in shoes allows them to adapt to your foot’s unique shape, promoting natural movement and maximizing energy use during runs.

Moreover, shoes that need to be properly broken in might not offer the right support, potentially causing imbalances in your run. These imbalances can strain muscles, reducing running efficiency. In essence, breaking in your shoes isn’t just about comfort; it’s a step towards peak running performance. Properly adjusted shoes set the stage for efficient, comfortable runs.

Prevention of Blisters, Corns, Calluses, Heat Rash and Swelling

The initial stiffness of new running shoes can lead to friction-induced discomfort, resulting in blisters, corns, calluses, heat rashes, and swelling. 

Let us concisely understand the explanation of each foot issue.

Blisters: Fluid-filled sacs caused by friction or pressure on the feet.

Corns: Due to repetitive rubbing, the skin on the toes or sides of the feet frequently becomes hardened.

Calluses: Excessive friction or pressure causes thickened skin patches to form on the soles.

Heat Rash: Red, itchy bumps or blisters caused by trapped sweat, common in hot weather.

Swelling: Feet retaining excess fluid, leading to discomfort and tightness.

These annoyances might seem minor, but they can quickly escalate and sideline your running routine. Breaking in your shoes mitigates these issues by allowing the shoes to mold to your feet’s unique shape, minimizing friction points. This means you can focus on the exhilaration of your run rather than being distracted by uncomfortable sensations.

Reducing the Risk of Injuries

Running with shoes that haven’t been broken in can expose you to injuries such as blisters, corns, calluses, heat rash, and swelling. The rigidity of new shoes can lead to improper biomechanics and undue stress on certain areas of your feet. Gradually adapting your shoes to your feet minimizes the chances of such injuries. By allowing your feet and shoes to form a harmonious partnership, you’re creating a foundation for a safe and sustainable running practice.

Now that we understand the importance of breaking in running shoes, let’s dive into a step-by-step guide to doing it right.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Breaking In Running Shoes

Breaking into your new running shoes requires a comfortable and injury-free experience. Here’s how:

Choose the Right Shoes

Selecting the right pair of running shoes is the first crucial step in ensuring a comfortable and effective workout. Shoe sizes can be a puzzle, as they are only standardized across some brands. Unlike clothing, where a medium generally means a medium, each shoe brand uses a unique model known as a “shoe last” to determine the sizing. This means a size 10 in one brand could feel more like a size 9 in another. Additional factors like toe room and width can further complicate the matter.

To illustrate, imagine three people with identical feet disagreeing on how a particular shoe fits. That’s how varied the fit can be from one brand or model to another. Therefore, when you’re in the market for new running shoes, you must focus on how they feel on your feet rather than just going by the size number. Comfort should be your primary concern.

To tailor your choice further, consider the running you’ll be doing. If you’re looking for something versatile and durable, an everyday running shoe is a good bet. For those planning to run on dirt tracks or rocky paths, trail running shoes are the way to go. And if you’re into faster workouts or races, a lightweight shoe could be your best option.

Gradual Wear at Home

Gradual wear at home is crucial in breaking into your new shoes. Begin with shorter intervals, allowing your feet to become accustomed to the shoes’ fit and feel. As you extend the duration of wear over several days, you’ll notice the shoes adapting to your feet, providing improved comfort and reducing the risk of discomfort during longer runs.

Progressive Short Runs

Start with an easy jog covering three to five miles at a comfortable pace. As your feet get used to running, you can slowly run longer until you feel good about it.

Alternate with Old Shoes

Switch between a new and an old pair of shoes to prevent overuse of your new shoes. This helps your feet adjust.

Research has indicated that incorporating a rotation of your old and new running shoes over several weeks can reduce the likelihood of experiencing running-related injuries.

Good Socks Count

Don’t underestimate the power of the right pair of socks when breaking into new running shoes. Opt for moisture-wicking socks to enhance comfort and minimize the risk of numbness, blisters, or chafing.

Thicker socks can also be a strategic choice when wearing your new shoes. They help stretch out the footwear, making it more comfortable. Later, when you switch to thinner socks, you’ll find that the shoes fit better and feel more tailored to your feet.

Moisturize Your Feet

Make sure to keep your feet moisturized. This prevents excessive dryness and reduces the risk of friction-related discomfort during your break-in process.

Quick Methods for Breaking in Running Shoes

When you’re eagerly looking forward to that invigorating run but find your brand-new running shoes a bit too stiff, don’t worry. There are simple and effective techniques you can try at home to expedite the process of breaking in your running shoes. Using these methods, you can make your shoes more comfortable and ready for action in no time.

Heat Your Shoes to Soften Them

Hair Dryer Method 

When new running shoes feel too rigid, there are simple methods to break them in faster. For the Hair Dryer Method, wear thick socks, shield your feet, and use a hair dryer to evenly blow warm air on the shoes for 2-3 minutes. While warm, walk around and flex your feet to encourage stretching. 

Warm Water Technique 

Alternatively, the Warm Water Technique involves wearing thick socks with the shoes, dampening another pair of socks with warm water (but not soaking), and wearing them with the shoes. Walk for 15-20 minutes to let the shoes adapt. Afterward, remove the damp socks and let the shoes air dry. These methods help your shoes become more comfortable and molded to your feet.

Freezing Your Shoes 

Freezing your running shoes can be a creative way to help stretch and break them in more quickly. Fill two resealable plastic bags halfway with water, seal them tightly, and place them in your shoes – one in the toe area and one in the heel. Freeze the shoes overnight. Remove the frozen bags, wait briefly for thawing, and wear the shoes with thick socks for about 15 minutes. This can help your shoes adapt to your foot shape quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why Do Shoes Need to Be Broken In?

Breaking in shoes helps soften the materials and conform them to your foot’s shape, reducing stiffness and minimizing discomfort. It also enhances comfort, fit, and performance.

What Is the Easiest Way to Break in Shoes?

The easiest way to break in shoes is to gradually wear them at home for short intervals, progressing to short runs and alternating with old shoes. Using techniques like heating or freezing can also expedite the process.

Do Running Shoes Need Time to Break In?

Yes, running shoes typically need time to break in to ensure a comfortable and injury-free running experience. Some even argue that modern running shoes don’t need a break-in period. However, when you get a new pair of shoes, it is essential to take the time to break them in and allow them to adjust to your feet properly.

Is It Normal for New Running Shoes to Hurt Feet?

It’s common for new running shoes to initially feel stiff, but they should not cause significant pain or discomfort. The break-in process should alleviate any discomfort.

If the shoe isn’t comfortable after the break-in process and you are facing problems like pain or numb feet, you have the wrong shoes or size.

What Issues Can One Face if the Running Shoes Are Unbroken?

Running with unbroken shoes can lead to discomfort, Blisters, corns, calluses, heat rash, and swelling.

How Much Time Does It Take To Break in Running Shoes Properly?

Usually, it takes two to four weeks. However, there are a few techniques you may employ, as indicated in the post, to speed up the procedure if waiting for 2 to 4 weeks is not an option for you.


In conclusion, breaking in your running shoes is essential to ensure a comfortable, injury-free, enjoyable running experience. It’s not just about making your shoes fit better; it’s about establishing a partnership between your feet and your footwear.

Selecting the right shoes, gradually wearing them at home, and progressing into short runs can improve your comfort and performance.

Alternating between a previous pair and a brand new pair of shoes, choosing the right socks, and even using innovative techniques like heating or freezing your shoes can expedite the break-in process. 

Finally, remember the importance of foot care, including moisturization. Prioritizing these steps will help you achieve the perfect fit and enhance your running.

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