I recently purchased some fine shoes by a well-known company, but while the quality is there, the fit is not. I don’t blame the company. I blame the stiff leather at the toe box.
As you can well imagine, this toe torment could only go on so long before I either bought new shoes or tried to fix them. I couldn’t find the Shimano mountain bike shoe I liked so much with the cloth toe box. They never gave me problems.
I decided to try stretching or softening the leather to end the toe-rture. Jamming a golf ball into the shoe didn’t help. I then heard that some women wear wet socks with tight-fitting shoes to help stretch the leather.
Worth a try. I found a large river rock, put it inside a wet sock and jammed it into the shoe toe as hard as I could. For good measure, I soaked the shoe tips in a bucket of water for several hours. I did this twice, for a total of six hours.
Result: No more toe pain. Just be sure when you do this you stuff something into the toe area; otherwise the leather could shrink instead of expand.
Follow-up (May 21, 2013) I gave up on these shoes. While my method for stretching the shoe is sound, the problem is that this model/brand has a synthetic leather upper, which does not stretch. So there’s a reason for forking over more money and buying shoes made of real leather.