What Happens When Shoes Rub Your Ankle?

Shoes with stiff and robust backs are not always comfortable. They may not be flexible enough to support your foot movements and therefore, whenever your ankle moves, it rubs against the shoe. You may only suffer a red mark or burning skin if you’re lucky. But most often, many other foot problems occur some of which are given below:

1. Friction Blisters

These are little bubbles full of fluid under the raised skin. They are soft and formed when a certain area is continuously exposed to pressure or stress. Friction blisters are most commonly found on feet. Due to ill-fitting shoes, they can appear anywhere on your foot but ankle and heels are affected the most.

Fluid accumulates in the outermost layer of these blisters and they cause pain when touched. It is observed that they drain by themselves but if the shoes continue to rub against the same part, these blisters might convert into chronic blisters. They harden and develop a callus

2. Achilles Bursitis

This is another painful and inflammatory condition due to too much friction, and affects tissue in the back of the ankle. Bursa is a small fluid-filled sac that sits between the bone and tendon. It cushions the bones and tendons in your ankle. Achilles Bursitis arises when a bursa becomes inflamed due to too much rubbing of shoes against the back of your ankle. The affected area, exposed to continuous pressure, can be extremely painful.

3. Achilles Tendonitis

This condition occurs when the tendon is overworked. The tissue, that connects the calf muscles with the heel bone at the back of the leg, is called Achilles Tendon. When the shoes rub and hit the back of your ankle continuously, this tendon becomes inflamed. It causes severe pain at the rear of the ankle. To avoid this condition, look for shoes that provide adequate ankle support and are not too tight.

How to Stop Shoes from Rubbing the Back of Your Ankle

You love your pair of shoes because they are too stylish and durable but still you can’t wear them. Why is that so? Because they RUB! You don’t need to walk around in agony forever. Here are some of the pro tips you can use to prevent your shoes from rubbing the back of your ankle.

1. Try Insoles

Using insoles is a smart method to prevent shoes from rubbing the back of your ankle. As your heel is thicker and wider than your ankle so, the lesser they’ll move if closer the lower the shoes are. If the sneakers fit properly, your heel acts as a stopper.

What insoles does is that it brings the neck of the shoe lower on your feet by giving a tiny bit of lift to your feet. Because of this, it may also move less when you walk around. Using insoles not only stops the shoes from rubbing the back of your ankle but also adds to the comfort of the new cleats.

2. Use Duct Tape

Duct tape is a pretty useful material and can fix almost anything. Can’t it? Many players apply this on their shoes, especially before jogging or running because it’s such a smooth and long-lasting material and stops you feel the rub. Duct tape can be used in 3 different ways to prevent shoes from rubbing the back of your ankle.

  • Put it on your foot: It will stick easily to your dry skin but may cause pain.
  • Apply it on the cleat’s inside collar: It certainly will not look good but is very effective.
  • Stick it onto your socks: It can be problematic and may not adhere well.

However, keep in mind that if you already have blisters or burns, avoid using duct tape because it can be painful. So if you desire to use duct tape before playing or jogging, wait until you are healed up.

3. Using Cotton Wool

This may not look appealing but you can place some cotton down the back of your shoes, in case of emergency. If you don’t have it at your home, cotton wool can be easily availed at the nearby grocery store. To make it look less unattractive, it can also be placed inside your socks.

Even if someone notices the lump, they won’t be able to judge what it is. Cotton pads can also be used to stop the shoes from rubbing against the back of your ankle however, they might not be as effective. Still better than a blister of course!

4. Apply Moleskin inside Your Shoes

Moleskin is a thick cotton fabric material but is soft to touch and feels gentle on the skin. Its one surface is sticky while the other is kind of a plush shaved pile. To stop rubbing, it can be applied on the inside of heels. Other than the moleskin, you’d also need scissors and a pen or pencil. Here is the stepwise process to stick moleskin onto your shoe surface.

  • Select a piece of moleskin that should be large enough to cover the area of the shoe you want to apply on.
  • With a pencil, trace the area you want to cover and place the moleskin inside the heel of your shoe.
  • Cut out this shape with a scissor and make the shoe dust-free.
  • To cover the whole area, cut the shape a little longer than you probably need.
  • Remove the protective backing.
  • At last, stick the shape in place.

5. Stick Moleskin to your Heels

To prevent blisters formation, moleskin can also be applied to your heels. What you’d need is a scissor and pencil along with sticky moleskin.

  • First of all, clean your heel surface and make it wet.
  • Unroll a piece of moleskin to wrap around your feet using scissors.
  • Peel back the protective backing and stick the moleskin to your heel surface.
  • To keep the moleskin in place, wear thin socks.

6. Anti-friction Balm

It is a lubricant material that covers your heel and protects it against friction. As friction is the main cause of blisters when shoes rub, so balms and sticks help in overcoming blister formation. They create an invisible barrier and can be easily purchased at any drug store.

They are usually made up of such elements that create a buffer between your heel and the shoe. Some balms are meant only for the feet while others are designed to decrease rubbing anywhere on the body.

The balm can also be applied to your skin if there’s already a moleskin barrier on your sneaker. However, if you have applied moleskin to your heel, no need to apply balm because it won’t stick then.

7. Wear Deodorant

You might have seen people putting deodorant on their armpits, but this product can be very effective in preventing blisters. So if you don’t have anti-friction sticks, try applying deodorant on the back of your ankle as it reduces unnecessary irritation and friction. Most people prefer a powdery deodorant over the sticky one.

8. Make Sure your Shoes Fit

To stop shoes from rubbing the back of your ankle, fit sneakers are important. It’s hard for your feet to move around freely if the shoes are tight and this will reduce friction. As a result, blisters formation is also hindered. However, your skin may also break in case the back of snug shoes dig into your feet.

On the other side, shoes that are too loose are also not ideal to wear. During walking or running, if your heel pops in and out of the shoe consistently, it’s bound to rub against the collar of the shoe and cause irritation. So proper fit is essential to avoid rubbing.

There are many ways to customize the fit of your cleats. Many people prefer adding insoles that raise your foot a bit. This can make your shoes fit better and will not rub against the back of your ankle as they used to. Other than this, toe pads can also be placed on the front of the shoe. This will create a tighter fit and your foot is less likely to move.

For adding cushioning to the rear of your footwear, heel pads are also something you can have a go at. They increase the comfort level of the shoe and feel like walking on pillows. Still, if you are struggling to fit your shoes, the best way is to consult a professional. The sales associate will measure your feet size and help you out in finding the right sneakers for you. If you are a basketball player and struggling to find shoes that fits best, see the article How Should Basketball Shoes Fit.

9. Soften your Shoes

The shoes may rub at the back of your ankle even if they fit properly. This is because they might be hard and robust and need to be softened or broken in. Softening of shoes depends on the material used in the shoe and it is observed that leather and suede soften more easily than synthetic materials.

Leather conditioner is used for this purpose which activates the natural oils within the leather. They in return work to increase moisture which helps in softening the shoe. Another simple method used to soften your shoes is explained below.

  • Soak some newspaper sheets in water
  • After a while, get them out of the water and squeeze them until they’re damp
  • Make a ball out of it and place it inside your shoes
  • Leave it inside for about 24 hours until it’s dry

The newspaper, along with the moisture, stretches out the sneaker which results in softening of the leather. If you want to further increase the softness, apply petroleum jelly or a leather conditioner to the inside and outside of the shoe, after the process given above. This will also prevent the leather from cracking or becoming hard.

If you prefer using a leather conditioner, apply a handsome amount on the leather until it is absorbed fully. Then massage it with your finger gently. However, keep in mind that this product might change the color of your shoe. Soap is also applied inside the rim of the heel to soften the shoes.

After applying these methods, I am sure you will feel your leather shoes more comfortable against your skin. If you want to know more about softening your shoes, have a look at the article How to Soften the Back of your New Shoes.

10. Stretching Shoes

Shoes might also rub against the back of your ankle if they are not in their proper shape. For this purpose, stretching your sneakers is an excellent option. Shoes can be stretched using different techniques such as using a shoe tree, shoe stretcher, or shoe stretch spray.

  • Shoe Tree

Place it inside your shoes whenever you are not wearing them. It helps the shoe maintain their shape or stretch it over time if they are a little too long or wide.

  • Shoe Stretcher

This is a fantastic device that is used when the shoes are a bit too tight. It consists of a handle and a knob, which is adjusted when it is put inside the shoes. Leave it for about 8-9 hours until they are fully stretched.

  • Stretch Shoe Spray

This spray works on different materials and is pretty easy to apply. Just spray it on the area you want to stretch and after that, walk for some time wearing thick socks. This method can be repeated if needed.

11. Wear the Right Socks

To prevent shoes from rubbing against the back of your ankle, make sure you wear the appropriate kind of socks. This is very important because scratchy or loose socks might cause unnecessary rubbing or irritation. Try to buy tight socks which are specially manufactured for hiking or other sports players because they absorb moisture and reduce blister formation.

Prefer socks with extra heel padding because they provide extra cushion and make your feet feel more comfortable. To reduce rubbing, wear thick socks as they provide a larger buffer between the shoes and your skin. However, it may not work for every pair.

12. Cover Already Existing Blisters

If you have not taken proper care of your feet on time and blisters have already formed due to the rubbing of shoes, make sure you cover them. You can use something like heel bandages to stop further damage and prevent infection. They act as a barrier to the blisters and aid the healing process. They are waterproof and shield the blisters from becoming worse.

Tips for Caring for Your Feet

It’s not only about finding the perfect pair of shoes for yourself. What’s more important is to look after your feet and take proper care of them. Here are some of the tips that’ll help to keep your feet healthy:

  • To keep bacteria away, wash your feet daily with an antibacterial soap
  • To remove dead skin, soak your feet in hot water and use a pumice stone
  • Keep your feet oiled to prevent dry and cracked skin
  • Keep your toenails clipped
  • Retaining moisture in the ankle or heel area can be harmful so, change your socks daily

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, after reading this article, you’d have mastered how to prevent your ankles from rubbing against the back of your shoes. To avoid this problem, make sure you buy shoes in which your feet feel comfortable.

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