Wearing a new pair of shoes is exciting, but it can be painful. You want to show off your new kicks, but deep down you dread wearing them because they might rub against the back of your ankle, causing friction and painful blisters.
Blisters are no fun as they hurt and may even be prone to infection. So, if you are wondering how to stop shoes from rubbing the back of your ankle, then you should continue reading this article.
How to Prevent Shoes from Cutting Your Ankle
1. Buy the Right Shoes
The first step to stopping shoes from rubbing the back of your ankle starts during the buying stage. A shoe that fits correctly will not rub the back of the ankle and give you blisters. With that said, here are a few tips to keep in mind when shopping for a pair of shoes.
- When trying on shoes, remember to wear socks that you regularly wear. Failure to do so can cause issues when you do wear your normal socks, such as reducing the available space which leads to rubbing of the ankle.
- Go shoe shopping later in the day since our feet swell up to half their size during the day. Avoid shoes that are too loose as this promotes rubbing as well.
- Most people have one foot that’s larger than the other. Know which one is longer to avoid problems since some people only try on one shoe and assume it’s a great fit. Ensure that the shoe fits your longest foot before purchasing.
2. Be Careful when Considering the Shoe’s Material
Shoes consisting of mesh, coarse fabric, and other synthetic textiles are more likely to cause friction and heel blisters than shoes made from natural materials. Let’s take a further breakdown of the materials used to make shoes.
- Leather is hard and non-flexible, so go for the best fit to eliminate problems with rubbing. However, cleaning and conditioning your leather shoe may help to soften them up and make them more flexible.
- Suede is a type of leather, so you want to make sure you get the best fit possible if you’re buying a shoe made from this material.
- Canvas is soft and comfortable, but these shoes can cause blisters if worn without socks, which is a common trend. Wear your canvas shoes around the house for a bit and bend them both backward and forwards as you go. You can also loosen up the laces if the shoes are too tight and vice versa.
- Rubber is notorious for trapping moisture and rubbing against skin. This makes your skin more vulnerable to irritation and blisters. If you choose to buy shoes that are predominantly rubber, remember to wear thick padded socks that wick moisture away.
While the outer material matters, you should also check the material of the lining of the shoes. Some shoes have a soft and seamless lining and others may have stitching or connections that can cause additional issues with rubbing and irritation.
3. Wear the Right Socks
Running shoes rubbing the back of the ankle can be stopped by choosing the right type of socks. Choose socks that provide enough cushioning between your feet and shoes. Fashion socks may look great but they’re not doing you any good if they don’t protect your feet. Go for socks that have natural padding and are made up of fabric that wicks moisture away from the skin.
As we age, our skin becomes thinner and more fragile which is why we need socks with a good amount of padding. Not only does this help with rubbing but also promotes better foot health.
4. Try Insoles
If you have a prominent heel or Achilles tendon, then you are more at risk for rubbing of the ankle. Ill-fitted shoes can cause your feet to move around quite a bit. This causes friction and leads to blisters. Using an insole or heel grip will hold your foot in place.
If your job requires you to be on your feet all day, well-fitted and well-designed insoles can ease the rubbing and friction between the shoes and your skin. They can help make walking around and standing in your shoes for long hours bearable.
5. Reduce Moisture in the Shoe
Sometimes your feet may sweat, and this can increase the risk of ankle rubbing or the formation of blisters. This is because damp feet will slide around in your shoe creating excess friction. Moisture can also soften and damage the skin.
You can use an absorbent powder in your shoe to keep it dry or, as mentioned before, choose socks made from moisture-wicking materials. If you feel like your feet are extra sweaty, you may have a condition called hyperhidrosis. Book an appointment with your podiatrist if it worries you.
6. Stretch the Shoes
Shoes hurt the back of the ankle if they aren’t the correct fit. While it is best to buy shoes that are the perfect fit, you can try to stretch or break in your new shoes to minimize painful rubbing. To stretch your shoes, try these methods.
Put on a pair of your thickest socks or two pairs if your socks aren’t thick enough. Then put on your shoes and take a short walk. The thickness of the sock will stretch the shoe out enough to reduce rubbing.
You can also try using a hairdryer to heat the back of the shoes. Wait five minutes then slip them on. This step can be repeated until the rubbing stops.
If neither works, try using a stretching spray. Simply spray the area you want to stretch and walk around in the shoe with thick socks on. Be careful and patch test to ensure it works with your shoe’s material and that the spray doesn’t change the color of the shoe.
At the Shoe Repair Shop
If you have a shoe repair shop close by, you can take your shoe and the professionals will stretch it out using the right equipment.
7. Use Moleskin
Moleskin is a durable adhesive cotton fabric. It has a shaved plush pile surface on one side and an adhesive side on the other. Cut a piece of moleskin and stick it on the inside of the heel to prevent any friction. Try to cut the moleskin slightly bigger than you need so that it holds better and make sure that the inside of the heel is free from dust and dirt before pasting the moleskin.
8. Try Anti-Friction Sticks
Anti-friction sticks look very similar to deodorant sticks. These anti-friction sticks can be found in almost any drugstore. They usually contain a balm that you can apply to your skin to create an invisible barrier. This invisible barrier reduces friction, which is one of the main causes of rubbing and blisters.
Try to choose anti-friction products that are hypoallergenic, unscented, and gentle on the skin. If you’re in a pinch, you can try regular antiperspirant sticks.
9. Cover Existing Blisters
Sometimes we realize our shoes are rubbing against our ankles too late and blisters have already formed. In this case, you can cover up the existing blisters with heel bandages. They will prevent further irritation to the existing blister and prevent infection. Try to choose some that provide a great cushioning effect and are waterproof to help the healing process.
10. Reach for Duct Tape
For shoes rubbing the back of the heel, try using duct tape. While unconventional, duct take can help if you’re looking for a quick fix.
- Place a piece of duct tape on the inside collar of the shoes. Although it isn’t pretty, it will prevent blisters.
- Stick some duct tape on the back of the ankle. Do not use duct tape on the skin if blisters are already forming. Only use duct tape on healthy, non-irritated skin if you have nothing else handy.
11. Check for Rough Edges
If shoes rub the back of the ankle regardless of what you do, check for rough edges at the back of the heels. Inspect the shoe closely as the layers of materials at the back of the heels can become rough. It may be because the stitching came out or the layers are uneven. If this is the case, don’t just cover it up, take it to a cobbler to have it fixed.
To stop shoes from rubbing your ankle bones, try to make sure that your shoes are the right fit. If not, you can try any one of the methods above or combine a few to see what works.
If you aren’t confident in fixing the shoes yourself, then find a shoe repair shop so you can get back to enjoying your shoes. If you have other problems with your shoes such as unnecessary squeaking, check out this article on how to stop shoes from squeaking.