How to Break in Doc Martens? | 07 Simple Steps!

How to break in Doc Martens?

Snowfall has already started, and also, it’s time for everyone to wear their favorite winter shoes. For me, I always prefer a Doc marten over snowy boots because of Doc marten’s practicality and comfort. Martens are heavy-duty, And one pair goes for a long time. My favorite martens are seven years old. However, if you’ve bought a new pair of Doc Martens, chances are they come stiff in the first trials. It is because docs are made of leather and wool that need breaking before they become comfortable. 

Sometimes these shoes become comfortable with time, and in other cases, you need to do a manual break-in to make them accessible. How to break in Doc Martens? Check out the rest of my explanation below.

What Are Doc Martens?

When the German army Dr. Klaus Maertens injured his leg in World War II in 1945, he innovated a new type of shoe. Those shoes assisted his injured leg and were different from other shoes in the market with their air-cushioned or bouncing sole, yellow stitches, and welted upper shape. Later on, R. Griggs Group Limited, a British shoe manufacturer company, bought its patents. The 60s were when the Dr.Martens boots got their name and upgraded to shoe-boot-work hybrid. So, Dr. Martens is footwear with cushioned sole and boot-shoe hybrid design that is great for work, snow, heavy-duty walking, and however you like to wear it. 

Is Your Doc Marten Causing Discomfort?

Dr. Martens can create discomfort if you do not break in the shoes. It is always necessary to make them comfortable before you wear them regularly. Doc martens were created to serve injured feet; the adjusted is the only time uncomfortable. 

Can It Cause Foot Pain?

If you do not ease the leather or buy the wrong size, it can cause pain. By default wearing the wrong size shoe can hamper your foot’s health. Sometimes it can increase to severe foot pain. The same goes for Dr. Martens too.

How to Break in Doc Martens? | 07 Simple Steps!

Why Do You Need to Break in Doc Martens?

The most straightforward answer is to make Dr.martens comfortable and prevent foot pain. When I first bought my first pair of martens, I didn’t know much about the do’s and didn’t. You have to carefully wear doc martens. I bought the Lake Blue 1461, and on my first coat, it was very stiff and quite uncomfortable. Also, I doubted how people claimed this was comfortable. Eventually, after a week, I went back to the store, and a store representative advised me on breaking in Doc Martens. Break-in means making the Dr. martens adjust according to feet. The process of making these shoes accommodate your feet is called a break-in. 

What Tools Do I Need to Break in Doc Martens?

You can not break your Martens by simply wearing them and adjusting them. I advise you to use extra tools to help you get in. Because improper accommodation can lead to severe back and feet pain, here’s some tools suggestion: 

  • Shoe stretcher
How to Break in Doc Martens? | 07 Simple Steps!

For starters and the most straightforward option, I recommend using a combination of a shoe stretcher spray and shoe stretcher. Two-way stretchers are available in the downtown market and also on online websites. The same goes for the shoe stretching spray. Dr. Martens are made from leather and wool, so the spray helps ease the stiffness and hardness. But do not spray it on doc martens quickly more than twice because too much spraying can harm the outer sole of the Martens. Moreover, you can open it using the two-way stretcher. I’ve explained the process of using the stretcher later in this article. 

  • Hammer
How to Break in Doc Martens? | 07 Simple Steps!

Even though it sounds weird, you can easily break and smoothen your shoes with a hammer. I don’t mean actual breaking, but just a soft pat. Martens are very heavy duty, and the hammer test entirely proves it. Any hammer lying in the corner of your house should do. A sled-shaped hammer is a suitable choice from my perspective. Don’t be tempted to use Soft-faced Hammers. Cross pein pin hammer is also a noise option because its head provides strength but not too much to hurt your doc martens. One of the drawbacks is that your martens can go back stiff if you don’t hammer the shoe properly.

  • Thick ankle socks
How to Break in Doc Martens? | 07 Simple Steps!

Socks are the go toss for any kind of accommodation shoe. If you don’t want any extra hassle for breaking in Doc martens with additional equipment, then your socks should do the job. However, I think socks are not suitable. I use Ortis heavy-duty socks when I feel like wearing socks with my martens. When paired with Dr. Martens; thick normal socks provide relief for foot pain and sole pain. Many of you can not handle socks because of sweat. Unfortunately, you have to check out the next options if you can’t use socks.

  • Hairdryer

Heat is a great option to relax Doc martens. But direct heat can be harmful, low heat such as a hairdryer should work. However, putting your hair dryer into a high heat setting and heating your doc martens in an upward motion can help to stretch the shoes. Scientifically leather molecules expand when they come in contact with heat. This advice was given to me by Dr. Martens’s store manager, and since then, I’ve suggested it to many of my friends. Surprisingly, the trick works very well for the first few wears. Make sure to use the hairdryer in the opening position of the shoes to break in the footwear fully. 

  • Wonder balsam

A tool you can use is a leather conditioner. Besides breaking inside the shoe, you can soften the leather. Dr martens have their balsam to cushion their shoes made of coconut oil, beeswax, and lanolin. Not only does doc martens wonder balsam  soften the leather, but it also hydrates the leather. I often protect my shoes against salt marks, liquids, and water. Some prefer to soak the balsam for five to six minutes, but I leave it overnight, especially if my Doc martens are new. Besides Dr. Martens, many other brands of balsam are available in the market.

If interested, you can check our article, how to break in vans slip ons?

How to Break in Doc Martens in 7 Steps?

Step 1: First, select what tool or equipment you want to use from above. However, I highly recommend wearing at least a pair of shoes before easing your Dr. martens. These socks will keep your feet protected from interior leather as it takes time to break-in. 

Step 2: If you’ve bought a new pair for a special event or anything, you must pre-plan as it takes weeks to break in Doc martens. I recommend you ease up using a hammer on the first week and then follow using a shoe stretcher. 

Step 3: A trick that worked for me and might for you is wearing the shoes in your home while doing any household chores. That’s right! It was my Dr. Martens break in less than three weeks. Then the following third week, I used to dry them at a high temperature every day.

Step 4: Finally, use the Wonder balsam to loosen the leather. Take a dime size of the product and gently rub it inside your shoes. I start by putting inside in a circular motion and then massaging. Then roll up a new paper outside the boots to prevent any external dirt from entering. That’s about it. 

Step 5: If you own Graeme Ii Polished Smooth Leather Chelsea Boots, I recommend breaking your shoes using balsam and shoe stretcher spray and tools. You can die in any Dr. Marten boots by using a stretching spray first and then putting the stretcher at a 45 degree angle. Then gently open the stretcher until the boots open up a half inches. However, do not stretch to the extent that the shoe tears apart. 

Step 6: Then, on the 2nd day, put some balsam inside the doc martens boots and use your hairdryer to heat the shoes from outside. The balsam and dryer combination will ease up the work on the interior and exterior of the boots simultaneously. Repeat this process until you finally feel comfortable in your boots.

Step 7: Dr. martens heels sometimes need to break-in. I never faced any heel pain from these shoes, but a small percentage of people did across the internet. So, to break in heels, you must wear a thick pair of shoes even if you get sweaty. Hammer the stitching of the heel and shoe.

You can also check our article on how to break in Doc Martens Sandals?

Do Doc Martens Stretch? 

Yes, they do. Doc Martens are made from premium quality leather. So, they are durable enough to last for years and flexible sufficient for you to stretch them out. Wearing thick socks and stretching spray can help your Dr. Martens stretch ideally. However, excessive stretching can lead to shoe damages. They are not as flexible as Crocs or Rubber Sandals. But they do a bit well for the heavy-duty shoe. Moreover, you can not wear them without minimum stretch and walk in them. Wearing these 12 minutes a day will be enough to Dr. Martens out. But for Dr. Martens’s boot, it may take more time.

You can also check our article on how long do Doc Martens last.

How to Stretch Doc Martens? 

Stretching or breaking in Doc martens is the same. Here stretching doesn’t mean squeezing or ripping the shoes ap[art. It means accommodating the shoes enough for daily wear. The stretching rules are simple, use Wonder Balsam or a stretching spray to soften the leather inside. You can try opening the shoelace(if it has any) and opening the whole to give it a good stretch. Applying heat with your hairdryer and even newspaper wrap can help scratch your Doc Martens. The first days can be a bit uncomfortable like any other shoes. Still, gradually it should become okay with breaking in. 

How Long Does It Take to Break in Doc Martens?

The answer depends on which method you are using with which tool. If you use thick socks with a pair every 12 minutes, it can take a max of 3 weeks to ease up. But with wonder balsam, it can go up to 21 days. Hammer breaking in can take up to 3 to 4 weeks, and stretchers take 22 to 25 days. Thick socks and hair dryers depend on the weather and your daily usage time. 

How to Make Doc Martens Comfortable without Breaking?

The non-breaking method is wearing thick socks. You can wear thick socks, walk around the house, and do your work wearing them for at least 30 minutes. Then give your feet time and repeat on the next day. I wear shoe pads on the giant thumb and the back to make mine comfortable on the initial days. Besides, there’s no other way to make your Dr. Martens comfortable without breaking. 

Why Won’t My Dr Martens Break In? 

You need to give your shoes at least three to seven weeks to break in thoroughly. Make sure you wear them at least once for 5 to 6 minutes at least once a day. If you are not religiously wearing your shoe every day using the tools, your shoe might not break in any sooner. 


There you have it, the answer to your question. The Internet has some crazy ways of making their Doc martens break in. Some even recommend freezing the shoes, and some recommend peeing on them. Yikes! However, be careful if you’re using a hammer or stretcher because not correctly utilizing it can bring extra damage to your and your Dr. martens. Remember to give them at least three weeks to stretch fully. Also, the balsam prevents your Dr. martens from looking too worn out. Hope this article helps you to break in and have a great fit with your favorite Doc Martens boots.

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