How to stop shoes rubbing

If you’re reading this blog you’re probably all too familiar with the pain that comes with rubbing shoes. Rubbing shoes can cause painful blisters, uncomfortable sore patches and all-around discomfort for our feet. Here at Rieker, we like to put foot comfort at the forefront of our priorities, that’s why we’ve rounded up knowledge on how your shoes should fit, an insight into why your shoes are rubbing, and the best tips and tricks on how to stop your footwear rubbing. 

How should shoes fit? 

When choosing a new pair of shoes, careful consideration should be taken in how they fit your feet. Footwear supports protects and provides comfort for our feet, therefore it is key that you get the right fitting and support you require. Ill-fitting shoes can not only cause discomfort when walking but cause injuries that lead to longer-term foot problems such as stress fractures, hammertoes, and bunions. Long-term injuries such as these can cause a multitude of problems – such as balance, walking quality, swelling, and pain. 

Why do shoes rub?

CauseProblems 
New Shoes New shoes are the most common cause of rubbing and blisters.  
Shoes that are too bigLarger shoes will result in your feet sliding back and forth, posing more opportunity for friction and blisters.
Blackened toenails can also be caused from your toes constantly sliding forward in your shoe. 
Shoes that are too small Small shoes will squeeze your feet and cause a lot of discomfort, rubbing both the sides and heels of your feet. 
This again can cause blackened toenails, and even worse, total loss of your toenail! 
Heat In warm weather, your excess body heat can cause your blood vessels to expand, this causes a fluid build up in surrounding tissues, mainly your feet, ankles and lower legs. 
This expansion causes rubbing, especially if your feet have expanded throughout the day.   
Excess waterExcess water in your shoes can instantly cause rubbing and blister development. Wet skin is soft and therefore more vulnerable to damage. 
Damp socks can also cause more friction and painful sores. 

Here are a few tips to consider when choosing your next pair of shoes: 

  1. Don’t rely on shoes ‘stretching’ 

While some shoes boast stretchy materials such as canvas, neoprene, real and synthetic leather with natural flexible properties. You should never base your shoe purchase on ‘they’ll stretch’, instead choose shoes that fit your feet well from the point of purchasing – this way you don’t have to experience rubbing or discomfort as you ‘wear them in’. 

  1. Measure your feet 

While most feet are fully developed between 14-16 years old, as an adult your feet will still continue to change size, so it is important to keep track of this. Getting your feet measured at the end of a shopping trip or long day of walking will give you more accurate results as your feet may have expanded. 

  1. Don’t just try on one shoe

We’re all guilty of slipping on one shoe to try, especially if we’re in a busy shop. The problem with this is, the majority of people have one foot that is slightly larger than the other. Trying on both shoes ensures a good fit for your larger foot, then you can use an insole to take up the spare room in the other shoe. This is better than trying to squeeze your larger foot into smaller fitting shoes. 

  1. Take shoe (and foot)  shape into consideration 

The best place to start when choosing footwear is to analyse the shape, look at the widest part of your foot (this is usually the ball of your feet before your toes), your footwear should fit comfortably around this part. It can be tempting to try to squeeze our feet into ill-fitting shoes to remain on-trend, but will so many different options available, from narrow, standard and wide fits, there is a shoe to suit everyone.

  1. Test sizes store to store  

Different brands are likely to have different sizing and fits so ensure you don’t just select a pair based on previous measurements or past pairs of shoes. 

  1. Make space for your toes 

A well-fitted shoe should have enough space to lift your toes up and down, not enough space for your toes can cause pain through sores, bunions, calluses and sometimes even the loss of toenails.

  1. Wear appropriate footwear to suit your activity  

It goes without saying, but it’s essential to choose the right type of shoes for the right type of activity. If you’re a jogger you’re going to need specialised running shoes that provide more ankle support and cushioning than your everyday general trainers, helping you to avoid both injury and rubbing.

How to stop shoes rubbing 

Even the best fitting shoes can cause some rubbing, so we’ve put together a guide on tips and tricks to help you when your shoes, old or new, are causing you pain. 

Suede shoes 

Suede shoes pose the least risk when it comes to rubbing. However, if you do find your suede shoes don’t quite fit the way you’d like them to, there are solutions to make them that little bit comfier.  

A shoe stretcher is great if you’re shoes are the right size, but the material feels slightly stiff. A high-quality stretcher can adjust the width and make it easy to wear.

Choose thin socks when wearing suede boots, as thick woolen socks can alter the fit of your boots, resulting in rubbing. 

Leather shoes 

Leather shoes are a must-have in everyone’s wardrobe, not only are they timeless but they boast great durability. A new pair of leather shoes, nevertheless, is often hard and inflexible. Even if you choose the perfect fit, the heels can be hard and side edges can be hard.

Cleaning and conditioning your leather shoes will not only increase the longevity of your shoes but also soften the material so they are a lot more pliable.

Wear them around the house for a few hours before you wear them out, this will loosen up the leather. Do this with socks on as it will give your feet that extra layer of protection and will provide additional space in your shoes.

Rubber shoes 

Rubber shoes, or wellies, make a perfect option when it comes to an easy-clean and water-resistant shoe option. However, the non-porous material used inside these kinds of shoes can cause perspiration and in turn, rubbing.

Stuffing your rubber shoes with an old newspaper or a boot shaper can ensure they keep their shape. This means they won’t feel too tight or loose the next time you wear them. 

Wear thick socks with rubber shoes. Rubber shoes are likely to become wet, this can cause friction, so thick socks will protect your wet and sensitive skin from being rubbed. 

Canvas shoes 

Canvas shoes are popular all year round. While they are predominantly soft,  they can be known to rub against your feet, especially when they’re new. As people tend to wear canvas shoes with a barefoot, the risk of rubbing is increased.

Prepare your canvas shoes for movement by bending them back and forth and wiggling them from side to side (not too fast as this may cause creases). Simply, put your shoes on, stand in place and repeatedly lean onto your toes and then your heels to loosen up the material. 

Re-lace your canvas shoes, if they are laced of course. Undoing the laces completely and re-lacing them for a comfortable fit helps fit your shoes to suit you. It also gives you the opportunity to get creative with different coloured or patterned laces. 

Prepare existing blisters,  with any shoes, it’s important to protect any existing or developing blisters straight away with surgical tape or blister plasters. This reduces the chance of the blister continuing to rub and causing more pain. 

Rubbing shoes can be discomforting and painful, so it is important to reduce the risks where you can. Most rubbing is caused by ill-fitting shoes, that’s why finding your perfect fit is essential. Here at Rieker, we strike the perfect balance between fashion and practicality, that’s why every Rieker shoe is designed and built with the Rieker features and benefits. We’ve even created our own technology — Rieker Antistress — to ensure that every pair of our shoes come with the best level of support, flexibility and durability. 


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