One of the biggest challenges with getting new shoes or a pair of loose or ill-fitting shoes is that the shoes keep rubbing against the feet. This causes BLISTERS and redness. Blisters are the most unwanted and most painful aspects of wearing a shoe that does not fit well. And if the blister gets worse by the day, then it can lead to the formation and leakage of pus which can further cause an infection.
If you dread blisters or hate the idea of having them repeatedly on your feet due to your shoes, then this article is definitely for you to read. Blisters may look minute but can cause severe pain and distraction while at work which gets painful and starts bleeding eventually. You do not want your feet to look ugly and the blister to rupture to leave a scar on your feet.
Hence, we help you take care of your feet health and suggest some tips to avoid shoes from rubbing against the back of your feet to prevent injuries and painful blisters.
Problems With Shoe Rubbing Your Ankle
While it may seem very minor, if your shoes constantly keep rubbing against your ankle, you would not even realize and sense a painful bump on your feet over a day or so. Here are the grave consequences of shoes rubbing against your ankle:
Friction blisters are an elevated pocket on your skin that is filled with a fluid and is mainly formed due to continuous and repeated friction on a particular surface. This is a very common issue with ill-fitting shoes and can be very painful if tampered with. It also contains some amount of blood and if the blister bursts and leads to bleeding, then it can be very painful as well as damage your tissues.
Friction blisters generally heal on their own, unless there is excessive rubbing which can cause the formation of a swollen sac filled with pus, that can burst. Else, it heels within a week. However, they can be prevented if kept untouched and protected from rubbing against surfaces like rough shoes.
As the name suggests, Achilles Tendonitis is a pain of the Achilles Tendon. The Achilles Tendon connects the calf muscles to the back of the feet and extends right up to the heel. Overuse of the muscle may cause Achilles Tendonitis. This condition is very prevalent amongst people who are runners, athletes, and constantly need to stay on their feet, wearing shoes. In severe cases, if left untreated, it can lead to rupture of the Achilles Tendon. Therefore, rest is very essential and shoes that constantly don’t pressurize and rub against any surface of your feet are of great help.
Achilles Tendonosis is a condition that is caused due to excessive stress on the feet. It can lead to a degenerative tissue breakdown that causes strain to the Achilles Tendon. This can cause a bump at the base of the heel due to excessive work on the feet and constant rubbing due to shoes won’t do any great either. This is very common in athletes as well as non-athletes or whose jobs involve long hours of standing or staying in their shoes throughout the day. Severe conditions may also lead to surgery if left unattended.
Bursae are generally present in our feet around the bones to provide adequate cushioning to the bones and around the ankle. These are normal fluid-filled sacs that provide good shock absorbance as well. Constant rubbing and stress at the bursae due to overuse or ill-fitting shoes can lead to the bursae getting inflamed. This in turn can cause swelling and redness followed by pain in the feet, which is Bursitis.
How to Prevent Shoes from Rubbing on Your Ankle?
If you do not want ugly and painful blisters on your feet and are irritated by your shoes constantly rubbing at the back of your feet, here are some tips that can help you:
Get the right shoes:
The smartest way out would be to invest in the right pair of shoes for ankle support and measure them correctly before purchase. The shoes should neither be too tight nor too loose to prevent them from rubbing against the back of our feet.
Before trying them out, make sure to wear the same pair of socks that you would be wearing for daily use. That gives you a better estimate of the size you need based on the thickness of the regular kind of socks you wear. This is because, if the socks are thick, there would be no space left in the shoe and your feet will constantly keep rubbing against the corners.
Remember to keep at least one finger width apart in your shoes for some breathability and a comfortable fit. Shoes that are too loose may also cause rubbing.
Always measure with the foot that is longer. Some people have a foot longer than the other foot. Therefore, consider the longer foot while purchase as that foot is more prone to being rubbed due to an ill-fitting shoe.
We generally tend to buy insoles to customize our feet for better comfort, but that may end up having the opposite effect in terms of our feet rubbing against the surface of our shoes. We may blindly end up buying a pair of insoles, without knowing the fact, that it leaves no room for our feet and in return, causes constant friction between the feet and the shoes. If the insoles are too thick and extremely padded, it may not position your feet and the heel correctly leading to the edges rubbing against your feet. Therefore, it is necessary to insert the insoles correctly and check for appropriate space within the shoes before you get your shoes customized.
Shoe material plays a key role to determine the comfort of the shoes. Certain materials like suede are known to be very soft and delicate. At the same time, the leather may look classy but can be uncomfortable for long term use. Leather can cause rubbing against the feet and can get very stuffy with day-long use which causes your feet to sweat.
Sweat and moisture are not very good for blisters and may cause them to become infectious and painful as well as messy in the long run. Talk about other materials like canvas or mesh, they are likely to cause more friction and there are more chances of blisters as the material in itself is not very soft.
Make sure to choose the material wisely and keep a pair of socks handy to avoid blisters. Material with smooth edges, stitches, and linings are beneficial as well as comfortable to prevent friction and rubbing against your feet. Check for rough edges around the corners, and check for designs that may get sharp or edgy which can cause cuts and blisters in your feet. If so, expel it from the shoe or chuck the design altogether.
Most socks these days are available to up your style game but do no good when it comes to protecting your feet and wicking away the moisture. As we age, the padding on our feet starts getting thinner, and therefore, we need better protection for our feet.
For this, socks made of wool are a better choice as they not only keep your feet dry but also provide good padding and cushioning and prevent the shoes from rubbing against the feet. But again, make sure that the socks leave some space in the shoes for the feet to feel suffocated which is again not good for blisters and feet health. You can consider wearing double socks for better padding.
Moleskins are just like bandages and can be applied either on the shoe or even on your feet. They are available at any retail store or even a medical shop near you. They are usually available as a large roll with a sticky edge and another end that faces the inside of the shoe. You can peel off the protective layer over the sticky edge and cut it as per the shape of the heel of your shoe or even your feet and stick it over the surface. Make sure to keep the surface clean and dry for the moleskin to stick properly. You can cut an extra section of the moleskin for covering the entire area that rubs against your feet and leaves no extra rough edges. If you are sticking them to your feet, you can also wear thin socks to keep the moleskin in place.
Get Shoes Stretched
If your shoes are tight around the feet, that too can cause blisters. For which, you can consider stretching the shoes and making them a bit larger so that the material and edges don’t keep rubbing off your feet. You can stretch them by wearing a thick pair of socks and use the shoes around the house until they get a natural stretch.
Alternatively, you can use shoe stretching liquids that work great with leather but make sure to check if they contain any harsh chemicals that may discolour your shoes. You can also use shoe trees and keep them inserted within the shoes when not in use to give them a natural stretch. Additionally, you can take them to a cobbler who would use professional equipment to stretch your shoes perfectly to prevent rubbing against the feet.
Use Anti Perspirant to reduce moisture in shoes
Sweat and moisture are one of the biggest reasons for the formation of blisters and cuts on your feet. And while your feet are wet with all that mess, it can cause infections and sepsis if the conditions remain unhygienic. For which, get a pair of shoes that are well ventilated and made of breathable material.
Leather and canvas are materials that tend to get stuffy while mesh fabric is ventilated. You can use a pair of socks that soaks up the moisture, e.g. woolen socks. You could also use some talcum powder that would keep the sweat away and the feet environment dry.
Use Duct Tape
For the areas in your shoes that are prone to rubbing against your feet, you can cover those with duct tape to make them softer and give your feet a protective layer. Make sure to stick 2-3 layers of duct tape within the shoes across the collar region and the back of the heel that are prone to rubbing and cause blisters.
Soften the heel
If the shoes constantly rub against the back of your feet around the heel, you can consider softening the heel or the shoes by applying shoe softeners and conditioning them. Certain materials like leather and suede are more prone to softening easily than rubber or canvas.
You can buy a good quality leather conditioner or beeswax as well as mink oil. Leave it overnight for the best results. It may cause slight changes in the color of the leather but adds a bit of gloss to the leather as well.
You can also mild amount of heat. Gently move a hairdryer on a mild level around the shoes and keep wearing them at home to stretch and get them ready for use. Don’t use heat on plastic and other fabric types. This tip works best for leather shoes.
Reduce foot movement
Certain ill-fitting or loose pairs of shoes can keep the shoes slipping from the heel area causing them to rub against the edges and corners and leading to burns and blisters. You need to keep the shoe in place and prevent it from slipping if they are loose.
For this, you can use heel grippers to prevent the heel from slipping and touching the edges of your feet. They automatically reduce the movement of the shoes across the ends of your feet and gives a good grip while walking.
Tips For Caring For Your Feet
While blisters are the most uncalled for and can happen with any type of shoe, you can certainly take steps to prevent them and reduce the friction around your feet. They are:
- Soak your feet daily in warm water to remove any dust, dirt, or bacteria around the toenails to infect your feet.
- Keep your feet dry and away from moisture at all times. Moisture is the best for harbouring bacterial and developing blisters.
- Keep the heels from getting cracked by applying lubricants and cream so that the skin does not chap off due to dryness.
- Cut your toenails regularly else they may become hard and difficult to remove, causing pain in the feet and ankles. Nails also harbour a lot of dirt and bacteria, hence it is best to keep them tiny.
- Keep multiple pairs of socks and change them daily to not retain the moisture within the shoes.
Shoes are a man’s best friend as they help them define a sense of style, but the same set of shoes can get nasty if they keep rubbing against the back of your heel. This can lead to painful cuts, swellings, blisters, and if matters are worse, can even cause infections, ranging from bacterial to fungal.
Therefore, getting an appropriately sized shoe is very necessary to prevent rubbing and formation of calluses or blisters. But if at all your shoes start rubbing off your feet and cause burning, you can try the tips suggested above for effectively using your shoes without compromising on comfort and style.
Read our article on how to prevent your shoes from rubbing against the back of the ankle and tell us how effective our tips and ideas are through the comments section below.
Brandon R. Katz is a registered professional nurse who has been instrumental in providing us with an informed opinion on the medical aspects of footwear. He graduated from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and currently provides his services at a non-federal long-term care hospital in Brooklyn, NY.
Brandon proves to be the champion in the group of expert writers with his in-depth knowledge in foot health, how to take care of it adequately, and what shoes, socks, or insoles will be supreme for you. He has previously worked with hospitals where he has foreseen both inpatient and outpatient departments and has been a practicing nurse since 2009.
Brandon hails from Jersey City, NY, and has a loving family of four with a small popper called Rozo. His decision to become a nurse arises from the desire to be in the position of helping and rehabilitating people.