Can Tennis Shoes Be Stretched? (Everything You Need to Know!)

Tennis shoes are supposed to be comfortable on the court, but sometimes they might need some stretching to fit properly. It’s very easy to buy shoes and later find out that they’re a bit too tight for your feet. You need to find the right method that will help stretch your tennis shoes to give you a comfortable fit.

Signs your shoes don’t fit right

Most people will at one time or another find that the shoes you’ve bought are too narrow for your feet. The tightness of the shoes may be as a result of some problems that include:

  • The shape of the shoes aren’t a match with your feet
  • The shoe’s overall length is too short
  • A too narrow toe box, not high enough or both
  • The shoes’ heel height puts pressure on your toes or other parts of your feet

If you aren’t sure about the comfort and fit of your shoes, it’s a good idea not to buy them because a pair of uncomfortable tennis shoes will not only damage your feet and joints after some time, they will also affect your performance on the court.

If your toes feel like they’re squashed together in the toe box or are overlapping each other, then most likely your shoes are too tight. If your shoes have a proper fit, there will be some space left between each toe, the toes will be facing straight forward, and half an inch between your big toe and your shoes.

Foot problems as a result of tight shoes

Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight or too loose. If they’re too loose, you might get blisters because of all the friction on your skin. If too tight, they might cause many problems like:

  • Long term loss of cartilage in your feet and toe joints
  • Deformed toes that can lead to blisters between your toes and other bone structural problems like hammertoes, bone spurs, or mallet toes.
  • Can lead to instability in the way you walk
  • Serious foot conditions like bunions, inflammation, flat feet, and pain in your heels or balls of your feet.

How can you stretch tennis shoes?

There are many methods you can try to stretch your tennis shoes and here are some you can try.

Frozen zip lock bag

This is a stretching method that you can use to stretch non-leather shoes like tennis shoes. Water is known to expand when it freezes and you can use this property to work in your favor when stretching your tennis shoes. The simple idea is to put water in your shoes, freeze them and your shoes will expand.

All you need to do is put a zip lock bag in one of your shoes or two to be on the safe side.

Can tennis shoes be stretched?

Use your hands to press the bags inside every corner of your shoes. Fill the sealable bags with water to about half full to avoid overstretching your shoes. Then lock the bags tightly to avoid any leakage.

Put the water-filled bags in each tennis shoe and ensure each bag reaches the tip and back of your shoes. If you’re using two bags, make sure both bags are carefully sealed.

Carefully place your shoes in the freezer and leave them for about 8-10 hours or overnight to make sure the water turns into a bag of ice. This will help expand and stretch out your tennis shoes.

Take out your shoes from the freezer the next morning and carefully remove the bags from your shoes and try them on. By now they should have stretched enough to fit your feet.

If they’re still a bit tight, you can repeat the process after a day and fill the bags with a bit more water to help expand your shoes a bit more.

Thick socks and a hair drier


Instead of using water, you can use heat to expand your tennis shoes all you need is some thick socks and a hair drier on medium heat so that you don’t damage your shoes.

Put on the thick pair of woolen socks then slip on your shoes.

Use a hair drier to blow hot air at the tight areas of your shoes for about 30 seconds at a time. Keep the drier at medium heat to prevent overheating your shoes which can lead to damaging your tennis shoes. Switch after 30 seconds to the other shoe directing the drier at the toecap, heels, and sides of your shoes.

The heat from the drier will loosen the fabric of your tennis shoes and you can try flexing or wiggling your toes as you apply heat on each tennis shoe. It might take a few minutes before you can expand your tennis shoes to a comfortable fit, but it can be very uncomfortable.

After using this method, it’s a good idea to apply a leather conditioner or moisturizer to prevent your shoes from excess drying of your shoes are made of leather.

Use rubbing alcohol

Take an empty spray bottle and pour a small amount to rubbing alcohol.

Spray inside your tight tennis shoes until they become a bit damp then slip in and walk in your shoes and wear them till the alcohol dries out.

Repeat this process till you get a snug fit or soak cotton socks in rubbing alcohol, wring out the excess then wear the socks and the shoes till the alcohol dries out.

Repeat this process several times if necessary.

Use shoe stretchers

Shoe stretchers are inserts in the form of a foot-shaped wooden or plastic object that is used to widen your shoes by putting pressure on the inside of your shoes. You place them inside your tennis shoes when you’re not wearing them to keep expanding them.

You put the toe part of the shoe stretchers inside the shoe and press the heel into position. This will expand the front part of your shoes.

It will take about 3 days of using the shoe stretchers around the clock to stretch your shoes enough to accommodate your feet.

Wear tennis shoes around the house

If your tennis shoes aren’t very uncomfortable, you can wear them around your house for some a few nights and this can soften them to the point of being comfortable. If you’ve been walking a lot during the day or if it’s hot outside, let your feet rest for a few minutes before wearing your tennis shoes because your feet could be swollen. Walk on carpeted floors or rugs just in case you end up deciding to return the shoes so that they can still look new.

Take your shoes to a professional cobbler

Most professional cobblers have special machines that they use to stretch tennis shoes and other sports shoes. The cobbler will not only stretch your shoes but also repair any damages on them. Make sure you explain clearly how far you would like your shoes to be stretched. You can collect your shoes after a day or two after the procedure is complete.

So, can tennis shoes be stretched?

Yes, they can you only need to find the right method to use and your tennis shoes will have the perfect fit in no time. Most of the methods are pretty convenient and very easy to do with items you can find in your home. The only exception is if you decide to take your shoes to the cobbler or using a shoe stretcher as there are different types of shoe stretchers for different types of shoes. Tennis shoes need a specific type of shoe stretcher.


How long do you need to stretch shoes?

If you’re using shoe stretchers, you can turn the knob slowly until you feel some resistance which will tell you your shoes are starting to stretch. You should leave the stretcher for about 24-48 hours to allow your shoes to stretch properly.

Why do new shoes hurt?

New shoes feel a bit tight, rub your heel, and pinch your feet with every step when they’re new which means they need some breaking-in period. During this time your feet might get blisters and abrasions as the shoes conform to your feet.

Should leather shoes be tight at first?

Shoes might feel a little bit uncomfortable at first, but leather shoes stretch and conform to the shape of your feet with time. However, they should have a comfortable fit from the start.

Is it bad for your feet to wear the same shoes every day?

As you wear one pair of shoes every day, the leather soaks in the sweat from your feet and if you don’t give your shoes ample time to dry, they won’t maintain their shape and they will also start to stink.

Do your feet expand at night?

Your feet are different sizes at different times of the day. The best time to shop for shoes is either late afternoon or evening when your feet are swollen.