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The constant rubbing of your shoes against the back of your ankle can be very painful. The best way to avoid this is to learn how to stop shoes from rubbing the back of your ankle.

I have a couple of pairs of shoes that I love and wear all the time. But every now and then, my ankle starts to hurt because they rub against the shoe. When your shoes rub against the back of your heels, they cause friction. The result is often tiny breaks in the skin that develop into blisters and can be prone to infection if not managed properly.

To avoid your shoes from rubbing your ankle, you need to learn a few tricks that you can put into practice and stop this problem. Are you ready to learn how to stop shoes from rubbing the back of your ankle? Then, let’s dig into it.

What Happens When Shoes Rub Your Ankle?

The friction caused by rubbing shoes against the back of your ankle results in minor cuts on the surface of your skin. This is where bacteria and fungus, typically found on our bodies, can enter and cause an infection.

how to stop shoes rubbing the back of your ankle
Source: DepositPhotos

The most common problems are:


These blisters can be excruciating because they increase in size whenever you bend or flex your ankle. In addition, if they burst, the skin underneath is left raw and exposed to more infection.

We all had blisters at some point in our life (especially with new shoes), and we all know how horrible they can be, especially if you have a job where you need to walk a lot.


Bursitis is when a joint becomes painful and swollen. It is caused when microscopic bits of debris in your shoes rub against the ankle and cause irritation. As a result, the skin becomes red, swollen, and painful, sometimes to the point where you can’t wear anything on your feet at all.

Achilles Tendinosis

Achilles Tendinosis is a slightly more severe condition than bursitis. It’s a condition in which the Achilles tendon degenerates and becomes inflamed. It can result in ruptures of the tendon, leading to less shock absorption and more pain when walking or running. It’s a chronic problem.

Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles Tendinitis is a condition in which the Achilles tendon becomes irritated from overuse or an injury. As a result, the band of tissue that connects your heel and your calf muscles becomes inflamed and painful to the touch. If left untreated, it can lead to a ruptured tendon, which is extremely painful and debilitating.

How To Stop Shoes From Rubbing The Back Of Your Ankle?

I have worked with shoes for six years in retail, so I have heard many complaints about shoes rubbing the customer’s ankles and how they prevented that from happening. I will share some of those tricks with you.

1 – Wear The Right Socks

It may seem obvious, but if your socks are very thin, you can feel the shoes rubbing on your ankle the entire time you are walking. So instead, you can opt for thick and padded socks made from materials like merino wool. This material is excellent for drawing moisture away from the skin.

Most of the basic socks you get from the shelves are made of cotton, a material that absorbs moisture. Unfortunately, this makes cotton socks a poor barrier between your shoe and skin, which can cause blisters from the uncomfortable rubbing.

I also don’t advise you to wear two pairs of socks simultaneously because the second pair will compress your foot, cutting the blood circulation and making your feet colder and squeezed.

If you often suffer from blisters in the ankles, try to avoid cotton socks and choose merino wool ones.

2 – Insert An Insole

Insoles can help your feet fit better into your shoes, and therefore prevent chafing.

It also prevents the heel from moving and stopping friction at the back of your ankle since the shoe’s collar is lower on your feet. This will make your foot and ankle move less when you walk, which will lower the friction caused by your shoes.

Read: How Many Pairs Of Shoes Should A Man Own?

You can buy a gel insole from any shoe store or speak with a podiatrist and have some custom orthotics insoles if needed it. Insoles provide great cushioning that prevents any impacts on your feet, ankles, and knees.

3 – Insert An Heel Cup

The Heel Cup creates a barrier between your ankle and the shoes, keeping them from rubbing.

They are inexpensive and made from rubber (a softer material). This is very important if you walk a lot since the heel cups slightly push your foot to the front of your shoes. This decreases the friction and pressure from your heel and ankle.

This was the favorite method from most of my customers since most liked to feel the rubber on the heel and ankle. You can also place the heel cup under your shoe insole and elevate your ankle.

4 – Stick Moleskin To Your Shoes And Heels

Moleskin is a very thick tape that you can stick to your shoes. This will help prevent the friction between your heel and ankle since the moleskin absorbs any impact or pressure.

The thicker it is, the better it works. Moleskins come in different colors and thicknesses, so you should choose one that matches your needs.

Do not stick moleskin directly on your heel. They are designed for shoes. Also, they are more durable than they look. I remember using one for over a week, and when I removed it, it was still in good condition (some people say months, but I find that impossible, especially since I walk a lot).

5 – Reduce The Moisture In Your Shoes

If your feet are wet, that increases the chances of slipping inside of the shoe. This leads to friction which is why you should make sure your shoes and feet are as dry as possible before wearing them.

A great way to reduce moisture in your shoes is to use merino wool socks, water-resistant shoes, and breathable shoes and socks.

You can also use absorbent powder to help reduce moisture since it can effectively absorb wetness and keep your feet dry and refreshed.

6 – Reduce Foot Movement

We all have a foot that is bigger than the other (even if it’s half a centimeter). Sometimes one foot fits perfectly into the shoe, and the other foot can be a bit too big (let’s think you will never buy a tight pair). If the shoe is too big, your foot will likely keep moving inside the shoe. This can cause friction that winds up pain in the back of the ankle and heel because of rubbing.

You can stop your foot movement by using insoles, heel cups or moleskins. The three options will absorb the impact and reduce friction. It is also crucial for you to have your feet measured and know for sure what is your ideal shoe size.

7 – Soften The Heels Of The Shoes

For this method to work, you need to have a shoe made of leather or suede since these materials soften easier than fabric, plastic, or rubber.

You can use a leather conditioner spray, oil, or wax. I personally like the beeswax option since the product is thicker. Before applying it, try inside the shoes to ensure the color doesn’t fade or affect the shoes badly. If it is all good, rub the shoes using small and circular motions. Let it dry during the night.

8 – Consider Stretching Your Shoes

If your shoes fit smaller and are rubbing to your heels, you need to consider stretching them. Then, of course, you can go to a professional cobbler, but this can be expensive.

Read: Do Clarks Run Big Or Small?

You can also try to stretch your shoes at home with a shoe stretcher. For this, you need to place the shoes on a flat and sturdy surface (I recommend floor tiles or wood). Then insert your shoe stretcher inside the toe area. Start stretching it until you feel the material loosening at the back of your heels. You will likely need to keep stretching one foot longer than another since they may have different sizes.

After they are stretched, you can try them on for a few days to see if your heels will still rub against the back of the shoe. If not the perfect fit, you should continue stretching until it feels snug and comfortable around your heel area.

Why Are My Shoes Rubbing My Heels?

My experience with shoes says that your shoes rub on your ankles due to three main reasons.

The Shoes Are Too Big

If your shoes are too big, your feet will slip around, and that will cause friction. Can you imagine how annoying it is to have your feet moving every single time you take a step forward? You read this article on how to make your shoes smaller.

The Shoes Are Too Small

On the other end, if your shoes are too small, that means your feet don’t have enough space. A tight shoe that doesn’t give room to move around will cause friction problems on the back of your ankle.

You Are Using The Wrong Shoes

When I was a kid, I remember using a pair of indoor football shoes to walk around everywhere. But, unfortunately, they caused too many blisters, and do you know why? Because indoor football shoes were not made for walking.

The advice “wear the right shoes for the right occasions” is something you should consider.

How To Prevent Your Shoes From Rubbing Your Ankle?

There are two simple and effective ways to prevent your shoes from rubbing your ankle.

Have Your Feet Measured

Do you want to know how to stop shoes from rubbing the back of your ankle? Then, have your feet measured when you buy them.

On Skechers, we had to ask every customer if they wanted their feet measured since Skechers shoes can run big. This ensured that every customer was buying the right size and avoiding problems like slipping, rubbing ankle, etc. Many would say, “I have been this size my entire life,” but that didn’t mean they were wearing the correct size. Some were wearing shoes that were too big or too snug. They couldn’t tell the difference because they were used too.

So, if you are in a shoe store, ask your feet to be measured, and get the right size.

Always Try The Shoes Before You Use Them Outside

This was a piece of advice I gave to all my customers. Always try your shoes around your house to ensure they are the right fit for you, even if you had your feet measured. Not all shoe styles fit the same.

Read: How Often Should You Polish Your Shoes?

This is crucial, especially if you buy shoes online from a brand or style you have never worn before. If you use the shoes outside, you can return or refund them because the brand or store can not sell those shoes to another customer.

Common Questions About Stopping Shoes From Rubbing The Back Of My Ankle

Some of the most common questions people ask are about how to stop shoes rubbing the back of your ankle.

How Do I Stop My Vans From Rubbing My Heels?

Some Vans styles can run big and others small, so if your heels start rubbing against the back of these shoes, consider inserting an insole or heel cup inside of the shoes, stretch them, or wear merino wool socks.

Why Are My New Boots Killing My Ankles?

New boots may cause heel friction because they are unused and stiff. When you first buy them, just wear them around your house to break them in. Otherwise, your shoes will rub against the back of your ankles. This issue will usually disappear after a couple of uses by getting those boots worn in and soft. I advise you to wear a pair of padded socks on shoes that rub.

Does Vaseline Stop Shoe Rub?

Yes, you can, but I wouldn’t do this often because vaseline is made of petroleum that can harm your shoe’s material.


I’ve shared with you 8 of the best ways to stop shoes from rubbing your ankle. It is essential to take care of your foot health to avoid any more significant problems in the future.

The most important thing to remember is that your feet are just as unique as the rest of you. What works for others may not work for you! To find out what will stop shoes from rubbing on the back of your ankle, you need to put these tips in action at least.

Did you learn how to stop shoes from rubbing the back of your ankle? What is the first tip you will implement, and why?