10 Ways to Stop Shoes Rubbing the Back of Your Heel

Have you ever been on a walk and found you had to stop because your feet were rubbing on the back of your heel? It doesn’t take long for chafing to turn into hot spots that turn into blisters.

Besides blisters, you may develop raw and painful spots or a lump on the back of your heel.

Luckily, there are many small and easy ways to stop shoes from rubbing the back of your heel.

Here’s why your shoes may be causing you pain and our top 10 ways to get it to stop!

Why Do My Shoes Rub the Back of My Ankle?

The most likely reason for shoes rubbing the back of your heel is that they aren’t the correct size for your feet.

If your shoes are slightly too big, there won’t be a snug fit in the heel. This could lead to your feet moving around in the shoe as you walk, causing friction and rubbing against the back of the heel.

But if your shoes are too small, there may not be enough space between the back of your heel and the ankle collar. Every time you walk, the collar will rub against your heel.

In some cases, wearing socks that cause the fit of your shoes to be tighter can create friction at the back of the heel.

Excessive sweating during summer can cause chafing at the back of your shoe. This is especially true if you wear cotton socks. It’s always best to wear moisture-wicking socks made for sweaty feet.

Sometimes the shoe material is rough and grazes the back of the heel as you move, rubbing against the skin.

When shoes begin to wear out, the materials at the back of your shoe may wear away, exposing harder, rougher materials on the inside that can hurt your heel.

Ways to Stop Shoes Rubbing the Back of Your Heel

1. Before You Buy Shoes

When shopping for shoes, make sure that you wear socks similar to what you would typically wear.

If you wear thicker socks than usual, you may end up accidentally buying slightly large shoes, which will be too big and cause friction when you wear different socks.

If you wear thinner socks than usual, your shoes may cause chafing when you go home and wear them with thick socks.

You should go shoe shopping later in the day. Since your feet swell slightly during the day, you’ll find a fit right for your swollen feet. Otherwise, your shoes may be too small and feel tight after wearing them all day.

Keep in mind that your feet are slightly different sizes, so you should make sure that both feet are comfortable. It’s always better to size shoes to your bigger foot.

2. Use Moleskin

Moleskin is a soft fabric applied to the back of your shoe or directly on your ankle to reduce chafing.

Its surface is suede-like and soft, which is effective at reducing rubbing. The backside is adhesive, so you cut a small piece to the size you need and stick it inside your shoe collar or ankle, right where your heel chafes.

This will help protect your skin from rubbing, and it also adds an extra layer between the shoe and your skin if your shoes are slightly too big.

You can buy it in rolls like Dr. Scholl’s Moleskin Plus Padding Roll or pre-cut shapes.

3. Use Good Insoles​

If your foot isn’t aligned, it can cause your heel to rub against the back of the shoe.

This can happen if the insoles that came with your shoes don’t provide adequate support for your feet.

You can buy a pair of over-the-counter insoles that offer better support for your arch. These will realign your feet and lower the chance of chafing.

Insoles can also help if your shoes have too much depth, which might cause the fit to be too big and rub against your heel.

Adding an insole can fill up some excess space and create a more snug fit on your foot.

4. Use Heel Pads/Cushions

If you can’t find moleskin or you want pre-cut and well-padded cushioning, you can choose heel pads or heel cushions instead.

They work very well for shoes that are slightly too big. They will fill up extra space between your heel and the shoe so that there’s less friction that could cause pain and blisters.

Their material is usually similar to suede, so it’s soft and non-chafing against the skin.

You can buy them in packs and put one into each pair of shoes where they’re needed. They also last quite a long time.

5. Wear Moisture-Wicking Soft-Material Socks

Buy moisture-wicking socks, which will help keep your feet dry and reduce chafing caused by sweating.

A pair of soft socks will also act as a comfortable barrier to chafing against the back of the shoe.

Make sure that the moisture-wicking socks you buy are similar to your usual socks in terms of thickness. Feetures makes very comfortable dress and everyday socks.

6. Use Anti-Perspirant

If sweat is the cause of your chafing, then try applying antiperspirant to your heels to stop them from sweating.

Make sure never to apply it to raw skin or open wounds. So if you have blisters or torn skin due to rubbing, you will need to wait for it to heal before you try this.

7. Stretch Your Shoes

If your shoes are too small and it’s causing your heels to rub against the shoe, you can try to stretch your shoes out so they have a better fit.

You may be able to stretch canvas or mesh shoes by warming them in the microwave for 30 seconds or blow-drying them with a hairdryer.

Then, put them on your feet and walk around with them to stretch them out. Make sure they’re still warm but not hot enough to burn you.

Just note that you won’t be able to do this with any metal shoes, including the eyelets.

You can also stretch shoes by putting a bag filled halfway with water into each shoe—right up to the toe—and placing your shoes in the freezer.

8. Soften the Back of Your Shoes

If your shoes are made of leather and the back of your shoes is hard or rough, you can try to soften them with a leather conditioner.

You can use damp newspaper or oils for shoes made of other material.

9. Using of Anti-Friction Sticks

Also consider buying anti-friction socks, or blister-free socks. These are designed to protect your feet from friction in all the areas most prone to chafing, so they should help reduce rubbing at the back of the heel.

10. Reduce the Moisture in Your Shoes

Excess moisture in shoes can contribute to chafing. If sweaty feet are a problem for you, take steps to prevent your feet from sweating in your shoes.

If you can, you should also dry your feet regularly throughout the day to prevent the moisture from building up, which can increase chafing and allow odor-causing bacteria to thrive.

What Can Happen When Shoes Rub the Back of Your Heel?

Friction Blisters

One of the most common effects of shoes rubbing the back of your heel is developing blisters.

Not only are blisters painful, but they can also force you to take time off from sports or everyday tasks while they heal. There’s also a risk of infection if blisters break open.

Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is an inflammatory condition. While it’s usually caused by overuse of the tendon during activity, it can be triggered by overloading the Achilles tendon as you change your gait to prevent your shoes from rubbing your heel’s back.

It can take six weeks or more to heal, which means you will need to rest from activity and wear shoes that support your feet.

Achilles Tendonosis

Achilles tendonosis is the chronic form of Achilles tendonitis. It can cause a deformed bump to form on your Achilles tendon, resulting from tissue breakdown.

This can occur if you have Achilles tendonitis and continue to wear shoes that rub the back of your heel. It can cause you to adjust your gait to decrease your pain, but this can put more strain on the tendon.

Bursitis

The bursae are fluid-filled sacs inside the joints that cushion the bones and tendons. When your shoes are rubbing the back of your heel, you may be adjusting your gait to prevent the pain, which will place more pressure on your joints.

This can cause the bursae to become inflamed, leading to bursitis. It’s more common in the keep and hip joints, but it can happen in the feet. However, an altered gait can also cause pain in the knee and hip joints.