1. Agreed, WATER follows the path of least resistance. But we are talking about ICE. I think the loosening effect is due to ICE forming from the outside (surface in contact with the cold) to the inside. You can spot that by checking ice cubes while they are still forming. Also, ice cubes are larger than the pockets we put the water in - the plastic bag bulges to accommodate the volume increase. All I can say is the 'ice trick' worked for me although, as I said before, if the shoes are very tight, you might need repeating the procedure a couple of times.