5 Ways To Stop Shoes From Rubbing Your Ankle

Stop Shoes From Rubbing Your Ankle | Murston Co.

Are you tired of your shoes rubbing the side of your ankle? Well, in this post we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you solve this painful problem!

Imagine this: you just bought brand new dress shoes for work, and you’re nothing short of stoked to show them off. But, as soon as you take five steps toward your office building, you feel that uncomfortable rub against the side of your foot. By the end of the day, you’ve come to try absolutely everything to find relief. You’ve readjusted over what feels like three hundred times and ultimately ended up kicking them off anytime you’re alone. You’ve even stuffed toilet paper around the sides of your shoes, only to have your coworkers point out that your two-ply is peeking out.

I’m sure that when you think of shoes digging into your ankle bones, you cringe just as hard as I do. One of the most unfortunate circumstances in life is sliced-up ankles. You acknowledge that your new shoes have a break-in period but, to keep from losing your mind, you ultimately have to avoid wearing them until the blisters heal. But that begs the question, how do you stop shoes from rubbing against your ankle?

In short, one of the best ways to stop shoes from rubbing your ankle is to add an insole. In theory, this should lift your ankle up away from the collar of the shoe, and, in turn, stop the rubbing. If that doesn’t work, you can try wearing thicker socks or protecting your ankle with moleskin tape.

Fortunately, there are quite a few ways to stop dress shoes from digging into the sides of your ankles, and for the rest of this article, that’s exactly what I’m going to cover.  

What Causes Shoes to Dig Into Your Ankles?

Before jumping into the tips for preventing the problem of shoes digging into your ankles, it’s necessary that we cover the reasons why it could be happening.

You’ve likely followed all of the guidelines for buying the best shoes. You might have even had a professional help you measure your feet for the ideal size. It’s unfortunate, but it’s possible to take all of the necessary steps for finding good-fitting shoes and still find that they’ve begun to rub against your ankles.

Regardless, from bad manufacturing to incorrect measurements, there are various possible causes for uncomfortable dress shoes. And since your feet are certainly one-of-a-kind, even biology can cause some issues. But with all that in mind, the question still stands, what causes shoes to rub your ankle? 

In many cases, it boils down to too much wiggle-room. In other words, the more your feet move within your shoe, the more likely your shoe is to rub your ankle or heel. On the other hand, if your shoe fits snugly, but digs into your ankle bone, it’s because the collar of your shoe is just too tall.

Either way, it’s an unfortunate disaster that is all too common. But don’t worry—the hard-earned money you spent on your brand-new shoes doesn’t have to go to waste. 


Because there are quite a few things you can do to keep your ankles free from any painful digs in the future.

1. Choose the Right Socks

Even if you think your shoes feel snug around your feet, there could be areas that may not fit as well as you initially thought. Additionally, dress shoes should leave plenty of room between their collar and your ankle bone. Despite all of your feet’s movement throughout the day, the two should have little opportunity to come in contact with each other. However, it’s not always possible to have the perfect fit in every aspect of your dress shoes. The good news is that there are options for adding some comfort to the inside of your shoes.

First things first: you can’t trust a no-show sock with dress shoes that have the potential to dig into your skin. It’s always useful to keep a layer of fabric between you and the collar of your shoes. While dress socks are thin themselves, they may not create a particularly solid barrier. Regardless, covering your ankles with some type of fabric will act as more of a blister-buffer than opting for no sock at all.

2. Add Insoles

Often, dress shoes fit just right. But, as I mentioned before, it’s not uncommon to find that your ankle bone and the shoe just can’t seem to break their bond. This happens when the distance between your ankle bone and the bottom of your foot are a bit shorter than the height of the shoe’s body. 

In this situation, if you want to avoid tossing your shoes out immediately after purchase, you can modify them by inserting an insole. There are plenty of options in the insole department; wedged insoles, in particular, are designed for only your heel. They can be the perfect answer for giving your heel enough of a boost to add some space between your ankle and the rim of your shoe opening.

If you find that pre-made insoles leave your shoes too tight, you can always go to your nearest shoe repair shop and have them make custom wedges that will fit seamlessly inside your shoes.

3. Use Moleskin Tape

To keep your shoes from rubbing directly on your skin or even through any socks, Moleskin tape is a beneficial option. 

You can purchase moleskin at your local drugstore, and it’s typically self-adhesive, so you can stick it anywhere. It’s super easy to simply cut a strip of moleskin to the desired size and either stick it to the inside of your shoes or directly onto your skin. 

If you do place the moleskin on your skin, ensure that you wear a thin pair of socks that can easily cover it to help keep it in place.

4. Soften Your Shoe’s Material

When you purchase a brand-new pair of loafers, the new material may not be flexible enough to support your foot’s movement. In that case, they’re more likely to burrow into the side of your feet—typically right below your outer ankle bone—and cause pain before you’re able to break them in. Sometimes, the pain is enough to interrupt your daily responsibilities.

Dress shoes are most often entirely made of leather, aside from the occasional, more durable rubber sole. Dress shoe leather is far less likely to conform to the shape of your foot than more casual leather shoes. Fortunately, dress shoes can be softened with different products to dodge the need to push through the dreaded break-in stage.

Shoe Conditioner

Shoe conditioner is specifically designed to moisturize leather and suede and leave it soft and supple. You can apply a small amount of conditioner on a cloth and then work it into the entirety of the shoe. Alternatively, you can apply a generous amount to the small areas you want to soften the most. Leave the shoes overnight, and you’ll find them to be super soft and flexible by the morning. Shoe creams can also do a great job at moisturizing leather; however, they are designed to act as more of a polish, where shoe conditioner is merely for moistening and hydrating.


If you’re on the hunt for an easy-to-reach softening agent, you can try rubbing some oil on the edges of your dress shoes. There are plenty of specially formulated leather oils, but mink, coconut, massage, or olive oil will do the trick if you let it sit for a couple of hours. The oil adds moisture—much like conditioner—that will allow the material to soften and conform easier to your foot.

5. Stop the Friction

Friction is the primary influence for shoe discomfort—especially in dress shoes. Whether they are a smidge too big, a tad bit small, or even your ultimate glass slippers, friction always happens. It’s exactly where and how badly the conflict is that truly matters. When it’s excessive, the friction begins to irritate your skin. But, yet again, you don’t need to fret—there are options for bypassing dress shoe friction, too.

Anti-Friction Balm

So many people struggle with their footwear cutting into their ankles that numerous companies have successfully begun to manufacture anti-friction balms for feet (thank goodness!). Anti-friction sticks are simple to apply around the skin that comes in contact with your shoes and act as an invisible shield to reduce friction and protect your skin. The moisturizing agent found in anti-friction balm aids in a smoother glide between your skin’s inevitable movements and your shoes. Keep in mind, however, that with especially tight shoes, balm may need to be reapplied often as it is more likely to be rubbed off completely in a shorter amount of time.

Antiperspirant (in a pinch)

If you’re absolutely out of moves, reach for your beloved deodorant. Alongside your shoes’ fit, friction is commonly caused by added moisture. Feet sweat more than you may think, and what do you use deodorant for? 

That’s right, sweat. 

Swipe some antiperspirant around your ankles before you slip on your dress shoes to keep your feet drier, longer and avoid excessive amounts of sweat that could potentially lead to ankle chafing. 

It’s recommended to steer clear of gel deodorants and stick to powdery options. Even baby powder is a viable choice!

Final Thoughts

There aren’t many situations that are worse than uncomfortable shoes. And when you’re wearing dress shoes daily for work or style, it’s only natural to seek out the most effective ways to stop them from digging into the sides of your ankles. Elegance and design are relevant characteristics of dress shoes, and you certainly shouldn’t have to give up style for comfort. So, why not have both?

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