Brand new skate shoes just don’t feel the same as a pair that you have been skating for weeks. When skating in brand new skate shoes your feet get sore, the shoes are stiff and don’t have any flex, and your tricks aren’t as smooth as they usually are. This is the opposite of what you want. A perfectly broken in skate shoe is like a comforting hug for your feet.
Breaking a shoe in is your attempt to make a shoe mould to your foot. To do this the upper needs to stretch in certain places, and the insole needs to conform to your foot bed. Depending on the shoe, it can take a few hours or a few days to break in new skate shoes by just skating them. Never fear, we are of course here to help you break in those new skate shoes fast.
9 Ways To Break In Skate Shoes
Some shoes break in fast and others take a long time. This entirely depends on the skate shoe brand and the type of skate shoe. Not all shoes are flexible right out of the box, though vulcanized skate shoes break in much faster than cupsoles. Let’s look at a couple of ways to break in your skate shoes.
1. Wear Them Before You Skate Them
My favourite way to break in new skate shoes is to wear them around before I skate them. I love wearing a fresh brand new pair of shoes around. I always have 2 pairs of skate shoes on the go at the same time. One broken in pair that I exclusively use to skate in, and a new pair that I wear when going about my everyday life.
Once the broken in skate shoes are too beat up to skate with, my new pair is ready to get tagged in. I throw out the busted shoes, skate the freshly broken in shoes, and by a new pair of skate shoes to wear around and break in. After wearing my new shoes around town they are nicely broken in and moulded to my feet.
If its snowy or muddy outside you can wear your shoes in the house. I do this if I don’t want the shoes to get dirty. Wearing them around the house is a good way to break in your new shoes and keep them looking fresh and clean.
2. Microwave Them
I first saw Zion Wright do this in the film “Motivation 3” and thought it was insane. Turns out that a lot of skaters put their shoes in the microwave to help them break in. I have never tried this because it terrifies me that I might accidentally put a shoe in that has a piece of metal on it and blow up my microwave. I’d like to keep my decades old streak of never blowing up a microwave going.
The technique is this: lace your shoes on your feet how you would normally lace them. Take them off and put them in the microwave for 90 seconds. Take them out, put them on, and walk around your house for a few minutes. Put them back in the microwave for another 20 seconds and they should be broken in.
The theory behind this is warming the shoe to make it more flexible. When you put it on your feet and walk around the insole and the upper mould to your foot quickly because the shoe is more flexible. When it cools it will retain the moulded shape.
3. Warm Them With a Hair Dryer
This is the same theory as microwaving your shoes but seems like a 100 times safer option. It will take a bit longer than microwaving, but will achieve the same result.
Using a hairdryer on medium heat, heat up the inside and outsides of the shoe until warm, but not hot. Put the shoes on and tie them how you normally would. You can again take the blowdryer to the outside of the shoe. Make sure you are wearing socks to protect your skin from the heat of the blowdryer.
Now walk around until they have cooled. They should be broken in. If you don’t think they are broken in yet. Repeat the process. After warming them and walking in them a couple times, your new skate shoes should feel really good on your feet.
4. Wear Two Pairs of Socks
Wearing two pairs of thick socks will help to stretch out the upper of your new shoe in the right places so it isn’t too tight in areas. I have fairly wide feet, so new shoes can often squeeze my foot at the ball and squish my pinkie toes. Wearing two pairs of socks can help stretch the shoe quickly and make them super comfy.
Walking around in new skate shoes with two pairs of thick socks on will stretch your new shoes faster than if you only wore one pair of socks, or no socks. It won’t be as fast as warming them, but it will help break in your new skate shoes pretty quickly.
Wearing two pairs of socks will also help prevent blisters and minimize any painful rubbing.
5. Freeze Them
If you aren’t interested in warming up your shoes to break them in, perhaps you are the type that wants to freeze your new shoes. This technique will quickly stretch your new shoes and help them feel broken in.
Take two zipper bags and fill half way with water. Squeeze out any air and seal them up. Check for leaks. If they leak use a new bag. Remove the insoles from your shoes and stick a bag of water into each shoe. Try to get the bag right down to the toe. Tie the shoes up and put them in the freezer over night.
As the water freezes it expands. We used half a bag of water so that the bag didn’t burst during expansion causing a disastrous mess. The expansion of the frozen water will slightly stretch the shoes making them nice and comfy.
6. Twist and Fold Them
Another way I like to break shoes in is to roll them and twist them up. This helps to loosen up the stiff outsoles and uppers that a lot of new shoes will have.
Hold the heel of your shoe in one hand and the toe in the other and twist the shoes. Now fold them a bit. Now roll them like making a wave. Don’t try so hard that you tear them or crease them. They should move and flex pretty easily.
This technique will work much better with a thin Vulcanized shoe like Vans or Converse. Vulcanized shoes are much more flexible than a cupsole but this technique will work on a thin cupsole too. It does not work well with my DC OG Lynx reissues. The sole is quite thick and very stiff.
7. Run in Them.
Running in shoes breaks them in fast. Running causes impact on the outsole, flexes the upper and helps the insole to quickly mould to your foot bed. Just like skaters have to break in skate shoes, runners have to break in running shoes. And similarly, an old broken in pair of running shoes is much more comfortable than a new pair.
Depending on how your new shoes feel, you may not want to run too far from home. When you run somewhere, you always have to run back and you don’t want to be half way through the trip in excruciating pain from blisters, rubbing and sore feet. Running on a treadmill, or a short run around the block is recommended.
8. Run Them Over
I’m not sure how well this works, but I have heard of people running their shoes over with a car tire to break new shoes in. I suppose it could stretch out the shoes and flex the shoes a bit.
My big concern with this is crushing and breaking the extra support that most shoes have in the upper at the heel. I have accidentally stepped on the heel of shoes and broke the support piece. After that the shoes are garbage in my opinion. Maybe don’t drive over the heel if you are going to try this.
9. Break In Wear Marks
When you skate new shoes your tricks suffer immensely because the wear marks from regularly skating the same pair of shoes is not there. Wear marks are warn spots in certain areas of your outsole from your shoe dragging over the grip tape in the same places over and over again.
Depending on how you skate, breaking in your outsole can be as important as breaking your shoes in for comfort.
Wear marks from flip tricks generally occur in 3 spots on the edge of a shoes outsole. The outside of the toe wears down from kick flips, the outside edge of the ball wears down from Ollies, and a bit closer to the heel is from doing heel flips. Having these spots nicely worn provides a consistency that you cannot get from brand new shoes.
You can quickly break in these wear spots by standing on the tail of your board and going through the motion of the tricks with your front foot. Drag your foot up the griptape and flick the kickflip and heelflip motions several times. Before you know it, you will have broken in your outsoles.
The best way to break in your skate shoes is to skate in them. But sometimes new shoes can be too uncomfortable right out of the box and need a little help.
I think that one of the heat techniques is probably the best bet if you don’t want to wear the new shoes around while waiting for your broken in ones to fully wear out.
I have used heat methods for a variety of footwear from skate shoes, hiking boots, work boots and ice skates. It has helped my footwear be more comfortable and wearable when it otherwise could have taken a significant time to break in.