How to Break in Wrestling Shoes? 8 Amazing Tips

How to Break in Wrestling Shoes? 8 Amazing Tips

Wrestling is a martial art that has a very specific attire and gives very little liberty to the fighters. You have several options, but they are very limited and there are restrictions in place when it comes to any additional equipment. A very important thing to know is that wrestling gear is generally not interchangeable, so you cannot use gear from other martial arts in wrestling. It is – sadly or luckily – very specific and very specialised. Today, we are going to talk about wrestling shoes, i.e. a very important and practical thing connected with their usage, or – to be more precise – how you can stretch your wrestling shoes. So, stick around if you want to know. 

What Are Wrestling Shoes?

Simply put, wrestling shoes are specially designed shoes used in wrestling, both in practice and in actual fights. They are designed to imitate a bare foot, meaning that they are very light, provide more traction and more ankle support.

Such a design is chosen to protect both the wearer – because their ankles are better protected – and the opponent – because it decreases the risk of injuries potentially caused by nails. 

Because of that, wrestling shoes have a hight top design and cushioning on the inner side. 

How Tight Should Wrestling Shoes Be?

A big question when buying wrestling is shoes is how they should fit and how tight they should be. They are tight, that much is clear and obvious, but should they be too tight? Well, the obvious and logical answer is – no.

Wrestling shoes should feel like they are not even there, so having them on too tight will certainly be a problem.

You have to find a balance so that the shoe fits perfectly. This is a topic we’ve already talked about, so do check our article on how to size and fit wrestling shoes

One issue with tightness is that wrestling shoes are usually narrow and stiff, which means that – at least initially – they will probably tight until you stretch them enough for them to be completely comfortable for you. So, in order to help you with that, we will bring you a short guide on how to stretch your shoes so that they fit you perfectly.

How to Stretch Your Wrestling Shoes?

Now, we are going to tell you how you can stretch your shoes so that they fit you as best as they can. There are several ways you can do it. Some are basic, some are supplementary. Some are more effective than others. The thing is – all of them can help, so be sure to try them out if you have the need to do so. 

Let us see what you can do:

1. Break Wrestling Shoes In

This is the first and basic thing you can do with a shoe in general. New shoes are most often stiff and narrow, even if you do find a good size. Unworn shoes are just like that and the best way to get rid of that stiffness and narrowness is to wear them as much as possible until they adapt to your feet and become like a natural part of them. It may take some time, but you’ll surely get there at one point. 

2. Warm Up Your Wrestling Shoes

Although we are not sure this works 100%, people attest that it does. The process is relatively simple – put on a pair of thick socks and squeeze your feet into the shoes. Then use a blow dryer to warm them up, while moving your feet and fingers inside the shoes. Do so for some minutes, then take off your shoes and socks, and put the shoes on again, this time without the socks. It should work. If it doesn’t – just repeat. 

3. Spray Your Wrestling Shoes

If you want quick results in a short amount of time, you could try special sprays, whose exact purpose is to soften leather shoes. Their usage is not that complex, it’s usually pretty straightforward, but don’t forget to read the instructions that come with them, because there might be something of interest to you. 

4. Put Water Bag in Your Wrestling Shoes and Put Them in the Freezer

This method is similar to the one listed above, so don’t get your hopes up immediately, but it might do the trick. You need to fill half of a resealable bag with water, put it into the shoe and leave it in the freezer, overnight. The water will turn into ice and the ice will then do the rest. In the morning, remove the shoe from the freezer, leave it out for 15-30 minutes, until the ice starts melting, and then remove the bag. Your shoes should be stretched by then. 

5. Use a Shoe Stretcher to Stretch Your Wrestling Shoes

Just like there are special sprays, there is a special device called a shoe stretcher, whose main purpose is to stretch your leather shoes for you. It is a practical device that stretches the shoes for your need and it is easily purchasable online or in stores. 

6. Spray Your Wrestling Shoes with Alcohol

Alcohol is a no-no in sports and you should never drink it, but it can come in handy with your shoes. There are two methods of using alcohol to stretch your shoes. The first is spraying or soaking your shoes in alcohol until they are slightly damp, then putting them on and walking in them so that they stretch. The second method involves soaking socks in alcohol and then pushing them inside the shoes to soften them and stretch them. 

7. Put Wet Newspapers Inside Your Wrestling Shoes

This is a simple trick, actually. You finish with your papers and then crumple up some pages and wet them, but do not soak them. You push them inside the shoes, let them dry up and them remove them. Your shoes should be stretched. 

8. Visit a Professional Shoemaker to Stretch Your Wrestling Shoes

If none of the methods mentioned above work, you can simply visit a professional cordwainer (shoemaker), who will do the job for you. But since wrestling shoes are a bit specific, you should visit someone who’s had experience working with them so you can be certain.  


On a final note, we have to reiterate that a good pair of wrestling shoes is essential. So, in order to get that good pair, you’ll have to break in your shoes so that they fit you perfectly. We have shown you how to do it, so we hope you’ll find out advice helpful at one point. That’s it for today. Stay tuned for more and see you next time!

Gianluca Martucci, Gianluca Martucci is a personal trainer and an athletic trainer.
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Gianluca Martucci

Gianluca Martucci is a personal trainer and an athletic trainer. Since he was a kid, he has been a big fan of Martial Arts and Combat Sports: from Wrestling and now MMA to Karate and Kung Fu, for this reason he specialized in workouts for martial artistis. Our testing and reviewing method.
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