How to Stop Shoes Rubbing Back of Ankle: 5 Expert Tips

Here are a few ways on how to stop shoes rubbing back of ankle:

Figuring out how to stop shoes rubbing the back of the ankle can sometimes seem like an impossible task.

You’re in your bare feet. You put socks on. It still rubs.

You put an adhesive bandage on the back of the shoe. It peels off.

After all these years, it’s time to admit that little blister band-aids and simple “hacks” like antiperspirant on your shoes don’t really work.

But don’t fret; all hope is not lost.

Check out our detailed hacks to stop shoes rubbing below!

shoes rubbing


how to stop shoes rubbing back of ankle infoghraphic

How To Stop Shoes From Rubbing the Back of the Ankle

If you have a favorite pair of shoes that rub, and you can’t bring yourself to get rid of them, you don’t have to walk around in agony forever.

Here are the best ways to stop shoes rubbing the back of your ankle:

1. Wear Thick Socks/Double Socks

Sometimes, one pair of socks won’t cut it. The shoe material may be too stiff and thick, so you need a larger buffer between shoes and skin.

Try a pair of thick socks, as you’d wear in winter. If you don’t have any or dislike them, two or three pairs of regular socks will do.

If this hack works, get a few more pairs of those thick socks or sew some of your thinner socks together. Wear them with all shoes that rub. But, be aware, it may not work for every pair.

Pro Tip: Try a size up with your socks as you layer, so they don’t hurt your feet.

2. Try Insoles

Your heel is probably wider and thicker than your ankle. Therefore, the closer the lower the shoes are, the less they’ll move. Your heel will act as a stopper if the shoes fit correctly.

Insoles will give you a tiny bit of lift, bringing the shoe’s collar lower on your feet. If it gets low enough, it may move less when you walk around.

You can use this tip to improve all new shoes’ comfort, whether they rub or not. But if you’ve read our Superfeet insoles review, you already know the benefits of insoles.

3. Get Some Moleskin

Moleskin is soft to touch, making it gentle on the skin and the socks. Plus, it’s generally durable, so it’ll last as long as your shoes do.

Use superglue or fabric glue to stick the moleskin to the shoes’ inner collar.

If you’re crafty with a needle, you could sew the moleskin on to ensure it’ll stay.

With the moleskin in place, the shoes will still rub the back of your ankle. But, it won’t hurt, making them a better pair of shoes.

4. Stretch Using Heat

If you want to stretch the back of your shoes but not the entire garment, this method is effective and simple. It may not work as well on canvas or other textiles as it does on leather.

  1. Take a hairdryer and heat the backs of the shoes.
  2. After five minutes, put the shoes on and wait for the backs to cool.
  3. Repeat the process until the rubbing stops.

5. Duct Tape

Duct tape can fix everything, can’t it?

Although it doesn’t stop a pair of shoes rubbing, it will stop you feel the rub, and many use it before running or jogging because it’s such a smooth and durable material.

There are three ways to use duct tape to stop shoes rubbing the back of your ankle:

  • Put it on the shoe’s inside collar: It’s unsightly but effective and will adhere.
  • Tape it to your socks: More inconvenient, will need reapplying and may not adhere well.
  • Put it on your foot: It will stick to dry skin excellently but is painful.

Be aware; the above methods won’t stop blisters and burns from hurting if they’ve already formed.

So, if you’re going to use duct tape before a jog like other people have, perhaps wait until you’re healed up. This way, not only will your shoes not rub, but you’ll be pain-free.

7. Cotton Wool

It’s unsightly, but you can shove cotton wool down the back of your shoes in an emergency. Most grocery stores have it if you don’t already have it in your bathroom.

To make it less unappealing, consider placing it inside your socks. It won’t be as bulky as layering socks, and nobody will know what the lump is, even if they notice it at all.

Cotton pads, like you’d use to remove makeup, suffice too. They won’t be as thick or as effective and will move more, but it’s better than a blister!

Why Do My Shoes Rub the Back of My Ankle?

There are three reasons your shoes may be rubbing you uncomfortably. Two are easily fixable. For the third, you’ll need our guidance.

1. They’re Too Big

Your shoes may feel like they fit, but they’ll come up a little at the back if they’re the slightest bit too big. They’re more likely to hit rather than rub, but the hitting has the same impact over time.

If this is you, check out our how to tell if shoes are too big guide.

If you need a solution, here’s how to wear shoes that are too big.

You can size down if it’s not too late to return or swap the shoes.

2. They’re Too Small

This one makes more sense. Tight shoes will be jammed against your skin, so as they naturally move with your gait, they rub.

Sizing up is the best solution here.

Small shoes have more problems than painful chafing. They can cause muscle atrophy, especially in kids. Plus, the extended tightness can make your feet ache.

But, if you can’t exchange your shoes or they’re too new to abandon, here’s how to stretch shoes.

To avoid having trouble like this again, make sure you know how to fit your shoes correctly. Check out our fitting and sizing guide.

3. They’re Stiff

Your shoes could fit perfectly, but a stiff back can still scratch as your feet move naturally.

Dress shoes are common culprits, whereas running shoes tend to be designed to avoid the heel rubbing with softer and more durable material.

How Can I Soften the Backs of My Shoes?

You’d think that one solution to stop your shoes rubbing is to soften the backs. However, unless you intend for them to wear down with time, it’s not possible.

The only way to “soften” the back is by getting it away from your feet. To do this, you’ll want to stretch the material just a few millimeters so it misses you as you walk.

Targeted stretching isn’t as simple as other shoe-stretching methods. There’s no guarantee it’ll work, but if you have leather shoes, try using:

  • Castor oil.
  • Alcohol.
  • Kerosene.
  • Vinegar.

Some people think these substances can soften or stretch leather shoes. If you’re really desperate, they may be worth a shot.

For better solutions, keep reading.

What Happens When Shoes Rub Your Ankle?

If you’re lucky, all you’ll get is a red mark and burning skin. If you’re unlucky, the following symptoms may occur:


Friction blisters are little bumps full of fluid under raised skin. As the name suggests, they’re caused by friction, so enduring more friction once they form is scream-inducing.


Bursitis is a painful, inflammatory condition of the bursae. Your bursae—fluid-filled sacks—cushion the tendons and bones in your ankles.

As you irritate the area with constant friction, pressure and sharp impact, it may become inflamed.

Achilles Tendinosis

Achilles tendinosis has several causes, including overusing the muscles and tissues in the heel.

Shoes that rub won’t help prevent or treat this condition. In fact, the rubbing might aggravate it, as Achilles tendinosis causes a bump to form on the heel or ankle. Tight or hard shoes are far less than ideal.


Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is one of the more common afflictions you may know. One of its causes is shoes that rub and hit the back of the ankle or heel.

If you’re an Achilles tendonitis sufferer already, you may be interested in the best insoles for Achilles tendonitis.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Stop My Vans From Rubbing My Heels?

To stop your vans rubbing your heels, try:

  • Wearing thick socks.
  • Using insoles
  • Stretching the back of the shoe.
  • Softening the leather.
  • Trying another size.

How Do You Break in the Back of a Shoe?

If the back of your shoe isn’t breaking in as easily as the rest, try softening it with heat:

  1. Take a hairdryer.
  2. Heat the back.
  3. Put the shoes on.
  4. Wear them until they cool.

This’ll help stretch the shoe’s heel and hopefully stop shoes rubbing uncomfortably.


How Long Does It Take to Break in Shoes?

Depending on the shoes, it may only take a few days to break in new shoes. But for some, it can take up to a month. It’ll depend on the material, how often you wear them and what you consider to be “broken in” for your comfort preferences.

Why Does the Back of My Shoe Hurt?

The most likely reason that the back of your shoe hurts is that it’s too hard. Consider using insoles to add softness beneath your heel. If your shoes don’t accommodate insoles, consider silicone heel cups.

Are New Shoes Supposed to Be Tight?

New shoes should be snug but never tight. Here are some tips to make sure you get the perfect fit:

  • Have half-an-inch of room ahead of your longest toe.
  • Ensure there’s no chafing around the widest part of your foot.
  • Make sure you can easily slip your index finger down the back of the shoe.

No More Rubbing the Wrong Way

Hopefully, you’ve finally mastered keeping the backs of your ankles safe from painful shoes. Remember, to avoid this problem again, make sure you get shoes that fit and feel comfortable before you commit.

Never buy them if they don’t feel perfect in-store. Utilize sending back painful online purchases for something less of a nuisance.

We hope you enjoyed this guide, and please share it with friends and family who could benefit. Please also share your thoughts below!


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