How To Stop Walking Boots Rubbing Ankles :15 Essential Tips!

Are you currently nursing painful ankle blisters and searching for how to stop walking boots rubbing ankles? 

Continue reading and I will share essential tips on how to stop walking boots rubbing ankles!

I have been there too. That easy trail was meant to be a breeze but halfway through my ankles felt literally on fire.

It took a lot of willpower to complete the hike at this point. Thankfully, I made it back to the starting point, but at the expense of my ankles. The hiking boots bruised ankle and my legs were aching!

My feet were swollen, with blisters, and the first layer of skin peeled off. It was not a pretty sight. Wearing other covered shoes was a nightmare for a week. 

I remember going online to search ‘how to stop walking boots rubbing heels’ and ‘how to stop hiking boots rubbing’ while bandaging my feet.

So today, I will share with you all my tips and tricks on how to stop walking boots rubbing ankles immediately and have a more comfortable experience on your next trail. 

As an added bonus, I have also included preventive steps on how to stop walking boots rubbing ankle bone for new walking boots. If you are an avid walker or aspire to up your walking game keep on reading.

15 Essential Tips To Stop Walking Boots Rubbing Ankles:

1. Lace your boots correctly to prevent rubbing.

2. Use an anti-friction stick to relieve pain.

3. Use a leather conditioner to soften the heels.

4. Use moleskin tape as ankle protection.

5. Wear liner socks to wick away moisture.

6. Wear ankle protectors for a layer of protection.

7. Use heel pads to provide extra comfort.

8. Use stretchers to loosen the back of walking boots’ heels.

9. Keep your feet dry.   

10. Trim your toenails.

11. Use an arch insole to provide stability. 

12. Use Tongue Pads

13. Use Wool Padding

14. Use Blister Bandages

15. Heat Them With A Hairdryer

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1. Lace Your Boots Correctly To Prevent Rubbing

How can you stop walking boots rubbing on your ankle mid-hike or walk? 

The first thing to check is whether your boot’s laces are tied correctly. 

Often people take the laces of their walking boots lightly. Applying the correct technique of lacing can make a world of difference! 

The main cause of walking boots rubbing ankle bone is because the boots are too tight or loose. Next, ensure your heel is in the best position of pointing diagonally backward with enough room for your toes. 

Then check the position of the tongue so that it’s centered to avoid slipping which can cause water or debris to enter your boots. 

The rubbing against your ankle bone can be due to your heel moving up and down the walking boots too much. A well-known technique used by seasoned hikers is the heel lock technique which can help prevent walking boots rubbing above ankle.

How to stop walking boots rubbing

Below are 4 easy steps for tying your walking boots using the heel lock technique:

  • Start by lacing through from the bottom to the top of your walking boots.
  • Secondly, fasten with a knot before going further up lace loops. This helps to secure the bottom of your heels better. 
  • Thirdly, bring your laces all the way up to the top lace loops and cross over to the other side towards the second loop and cross over again.
  • Lastly, fasten with a double wrap knot. I recommend the double wrap knot because in case of an emergency where you need the boots off, simply pull on one of the lace and it comes undone immediately. 

Here is a great tutorial for you to practice. 

2. Use An Anti-Friction Stick To Relieve Pain

The following few tips are tools that I recommend for you to have on how to stop walking boots rubbing ankles as they are essential in providing immediate pain relief when walking boots hurt your ankle.

 Let’s start with an anti-friction stick. 

A handy foot care product that is compact and takes little space in your backpack while on the trail. Simply apply the balm on your skin targeting areas prone to chafing like the ankles before lacing up your walking boots. 

It is non-greasy, non-irritating, long-lasting, and some made of natural ingredients like aloe vera. It provides a thin film of protective layer between your ankle and the cuff of walking boots should you need it. 

Though it’s long-lasting, you may want to reapply it every 4 hours. 

Try the Gold Bond Friction Defense Stick 1.75 oz., Soothes & Comforts for Daily Friction Prevention as it’s highly raved about. 

3. Use A Leather Conditioner To Soften The Heels

Another good way to minimize the impact of walking boots rubbing above the ankle is by softening the ankle cuffs. This especially applies to new walking boots made of leather at the cuffs. 

Leather is a long-lasting material that can weather through extreme conditions but that also means it is harder compared to other materials.

An easy way to soften leather is by applying leather conditioner on the cuff area, to avoid hiking boots rubbing side ankle bone.

Aside from softening, it also makes the leather waterproof which protects the walking boots from damage and most importantly keeps your ankles dry! 

Leather conditioners are usually made of beeswax and mink oils which you can apply on the leather directly or using a cloth. 

I would recommend you do it 1 day before the hike to allow the product to work its magic and if you need a second coat. 

Please ensure the walking boots are in clean and dry condition prior to the application. Note that it will darken the color of the leather. 

For softer walking boots and cuffs that help to stop the walking boots from hurting your ankle give Huberd’s Shoe Grease, 7.5oz: Waterproofs, Softens, Conditions Leather a try. 

4. Use Moleskin Tape As Ankle Protection

If you’re searching for how to stop boots rubbing ankle, moleskin tape helps to do exactly that! Moleskin tape is made of soft cotton fabric suitable for the skin and acts as ankle padding for walking boots.

The tape can be easily cut off with scissors according to the size desired and plastered onto the ankle. It is also best to apply before putting on walking boots onto clean and dry feet to prevent boots rubbing side ankle bone.

You probably have come across using duct tape as an alternative, I strongly recommend against it as it doesn’t offer the same padding and hurts your skin when pulled off.

This is an alternative to the anti-friction stick that provides another layer of protection to your ankles and alleviates the pain of walking boots rubbing on ankle. It is a common aid used by many for all sorts of activities using footwear. 

I’ve personally tried and tested Dr. Scholl’s Moleskin Plus Padding Roll (24″ x 4 5/8″). This type especially has that extra padding which means extra protection against boots rubbing ankle bone.

5. Wear Liner Socks To Wick Away Moisture

Have you come across the “wear liner socks” or “double sock method” tips for when hiking boots hurt ankles? Only to get overwhelmed with confusion upon purchasing the type and quantity? I’m here to demystify it for you. 

Understanding the reason for the double sock method is how to stop walking boots rubbing. 

Liner socks are thin and lightweight socks that are made of mostly polyester and other specialty blends of nylon or spandex.

Therefore, it is made to wick away or absorb sweat and keep feet dry preventing hiking boots hurt inside ankle bone. This eliminates hot spots caused by uncomfortable moisture rubbing. 

Since it’s lightweight, hikers usually wear it underneath regular hiking socks as it provides an additional layer of protection for the feet. This is how the “double sock method” is born. 

So, is it suitable for you?

Not exactly as it really depends on your feet. Everyone perspires at a different rate. Hence, it will be trial and error. I recommend you get a pair and test it out on a short walk to determine whether your feet need that extra protection. 

How to choose the right liner socks you ask? Go for polyester, snug fit to prevent rubbing onto feet and similar cut as your regular hiking socks.

FoxRiver women’s Wick Dry Coolmax Ultra-lightweight Liner Crew Socks is an excellent liner sock and value for money. 

6. Wear Ankle Protectors For A Layer Of Protection

Perhaps you have taken the steps above but still face the problem of walking boots rubbing your ankle bone. Don’t give up! This tip has proven to help many in the same boat. 

After all, there is no one size fits all method. Have you tried wearing ankle protectors with your walking boots? 

What are ankle protectors? 

They are thin stretchy foot sleeves where additional gel padding is built-in for hot spots like ankle or tendon heels. This cushion-like padding acts as a barrier between the boot and your ankle. These are used by hikers as hiking boots hurt ankle bone or the boots rub ankle bone.

It’s completely safe and medically tested for the skin. It also gives a light compression due to the stretchy material. 

The sleeve is made of lightweight fabric, reusable and washable. Hence, it can be worn underneath regular hiking socks to avoid hiking boots rubbing heel.

 I highly recommend ZenToes Ankle Bone Protection Socks Malleolar Sleeves with Gel Pads for Boots, Skates, Splints, and Braces.

7. Use Heel Pads To Provide Extra Comfort

I shared in tip 1 that when walking boots move around too much while walking it causes rubbing against the ankle. This experience is known as slippage. 

This could be caused by the wrong fit of walking boots or poor lacing. 

Sometimes it can also be due to one of your feet having a different shape than the other. Well, this is my case. The fit on my right foot is always a bit off.

So, how to stop walking boots rubbing ankles in this case? Try heel pads to provide extra grip and comfort and stop hiking boots rubbing on ankle bone.

What are heel pads? 

They are fabric cushion pads designed to fit inside your shoes around the heel area. Instead of plastering a layer of protection onto your foot, stick this onto your walking boots rubbing heel and it becomes built-in grip support. 

It is made up of durable and breathable material which means you don’t have to change it often. 

Heel pads literally stopped my heel from moving up the walking boots and are definitely an effective way to stop hiking boots rubbing ankle.

Give Makryn Premium Heel Pads Inserts Grips Liner for Men Women a go, and see if it solves your slippage dilemma. 

8. Use Stretchers To Loosen The Back Of Walking Boots’ Heels

Among all the tips shared, this can be considered an investment due to its price. Stretchers are especially suitable for new walking boots that must be softened and stretched.

Leather is a material that softens over usage, but new boots don’t have that worn-out feel yet and hiking boots hurt outside ankle bone mainly.

What exactly are boot stretchers?

It is a footwear tool designed to help you stretch the new walking boot easily as it has a widening handle for a firm hold to turn and expand the toe block. 

It is made of 3 components: a widening handle, handle joint, and toe block. The handles are made of stainless steel hardware while the toe block is beech wood or plastic. I recommend investing in beech wood because new leather walking boots are tough and plastic might not be effective. 

A premium boot stretcher can set you back $60 but they are long-lasting due to high durability. 

When should you decide to get a boot stretcher? When you have broken into a new walking boot but it still feels hard and it’s rubbing against ankle bone. 

Try stretching the new walking boot until you feel the heel loosen. 

I find this FootFitter Heavy Duty Premium Professional Boot Width Stretcher – Stretching Hiking & Work Boots, Loosens Tight Toe Box worth every dollar because it is unisex and comes with metal spot stretching plugs.

Great for softening pressure points inside the boot and prevents shoes rubbing ankle bone.

9. Keep Your Feet Dry

At this point, it is no surprise that it’s a big deal that you need to ensure your feet are dry. One of the main reasons our feet sweat is because walking boots aren’t always made of breathable material. 

Don’t disregard the old fashioned foot powder. 

Since our feet perspire at different rates, too much creates hotspots due to moisture rubbing on the ankle. Using foot powder is another way to keep feet dry besides using a sock liner.

Sprinkle a generous amount before putting in the sock liner or regular socks if your hiking boots rub ankle bone. 

What is foot powder? It is a specially formulated footcare product that helps to absorb moisture and combats odor. It keeps them cool and dry when wearing covered shoes.

This step helps to control potential agitation caused by the rubbing during your walk. 

A good foot powder you can try is Arm & Hammer Talc-Free Foot Powder 5.0 OZ.

10. Trim Your Toenails

Similar to keeping your feet dry and clean, maintaining short and trimmed toenails is also important and should be included in your foot care routine. 

I’m sure you have experienced the discomfort of long hard toenails (especially the big toe) bumping against the walking boots and causing pain to the foot.

How does this connect with your ankle? In order to keep your walking boots fits well, you need to ensure there is enough room for your toes. 

To recap, how to stop boots from rubbing ankles is by wearing them correctly ensuring heel position, toe room, boot tongue position, and lacing in place to reduce “slippage”.  

Not maintaining the toenails will certainly affect the walking boot fit potentially resulting in hiking boots rubbing back of ankle. 

Even worse –  it can lead to blackened toenails if the long toenail repeatedly slams against the boot while also resulting in walking boots hurting ankle bone. Preventive care is always the best route. 

11. Use An Arch Insole To Provide Stability

Last but not least, we know that our feet are not made the same due to their shape. 

Knowing your feet well will allow you to effectively stop walking boots rubbing on your ankle. 

Therefore, this is for flat feet babes that need extra support like me. 

Purchasing an arch insole will help to secure the heel in its position and reduce slippage preventing boots hurting ankle bone. 

How can an arch insole help secure your heel?

The design of an arch insole has a deep heel cup that stabilizes the feet which helps to distribute the weight evenly. This means it supports aligning your heel and ankle into a neutral position. 

Not all walking boots will have this kind of deep arch that flat feet can rest comfortably in position. 

All you have to do is remove your current insole and pop this arch insole into the boot and test it out. It has been another life-changing hack for me and super affordable. 

One I gladly recommend is Plantar Fasciitis Feet Insoles Arch Supports Orthotics Inserts Relieve Flat Feet, High Arch, Foot Pain

12. Use Tongue Pads

Hiking boots hurt back of ankle because they constantly rub against the stiff boot. How do tongue pads help prevent chafing? Tongue pads are stuck on the tongue of the boot.

The pads ensure that your foot doesn’t slip and prevents the ankle from rubbing against the back or side of the boot.

What’s better is that tongue pads also cushion the instep of your feet to prevent chafing.

Liams Shoppe Felt Tongue Pads are a great option if you’re looking for comfortable tongue pads to soothe your feet.

How to stop walking boots rubbing

13. Use Wool Padding

Another great way to break in your walking or hiking boots is by using wool padding, till the time the boot has molded to your feet. Wool padding will act as a cushion preventing rubbing and chafing from the new boots.

The soft wool isn’t a hindrance at all and makes your hiking trip easier by protecting your ankle from blisters.

You can use Wuru Wool which would minimize blisters, absorb moisture, and promote breathability.

How to stop walking boots rubbing

14. Use Blister Bandages

What should you do if you have developed blisters in the middle of your hike?

Blister bandages stop your walking boot rubbing ankle, and also heal any wounds that may have formed. You can even use blister bandages even if your ankles aren’t hurt yet, to prevent any chafing in the future.

Compeed Gel Pads are excellent options if you’re looking for long-lasting bandages which can provide comfort and heal the wounds. These hydrocolloid bandages are perfect for use with your new hiking or walking boots.

How to stop walking boots rubbing

15. Heat Them With A Hairdryer

Sounds weird, right? I thought the same. But when I tried it out, it definitely worked for me!.

What you need to do is wear a pair (or two!) of thick socks, and then wear your walking or hiking boots. After that just heat the back and sides of your boots with your hairdryer. Keep the hairdryer on a medium or high setting but make sure not too heat it too much to avoid damage to the boots.

Many people have informed me of the effectiveness of heating to prevent walking boots chafing ankles.


How Do I Stop New Walking Boots Rubbing? 

So, how do I stop new walking boots from rubbing? The key tip to stop new walking boots from rubbing is that you have to put a barrier of protection from friction by wearing liner socks to wick away the moisture.

Liner socks are thin socks made of natural fiber and it is worn underneath regular hiking socks. 

It helps to keep your feet dry by absorbing the sweat which will reduce uncomfortable rubbing against new walking boots. 

How Do I Soften Walking Boots Around My Ankles?

The key tip to soften walking boots around your ankles is that you must always break in your walking boots by gently flexing the sole of your walking boots with your hands. 

Carefully and firmly hold the heel and toe of your boots with both hands and press them inwards and outwards for a few seconds. 

Keep flexing until you feel the ankle cups soften. Alternatively, you can use boot stretchers or leather conditioners to soften your walking boots. 

How to stop walking boots rubbing

How Can I Make My Walking Boots More Comfortable?

If you need answers to how can you make your walking boots more comfortable, here are 7 best tips to try:

1. Use Heel Pads To Provide Extra Comfort

2. Use An Arch Insole To Provide Stability

3. Lace Your Boots Correctly To Prevent Rubbing

4. Wear Ankle Protectors For A Layer Of Protection

5. Wear Liner Socks To Wick Away Moisture

6. Use An Anti-Friction Stick To Relieve Pain

7. Use Moleskin Tape As Ankle Protection

Why Do Hiking Boots Hurt My Ankles?

Hiking boots may hurt your ankles when – your boots are the wrong size, they’re laced up too tightly, the boots have not been broken into, have the improper material for socks, cause friction between your ankles and the boots, have less or no cushioning, and more, resulting in blisters on the feet.

How To Break In Walking Boots Quickly?

Wearing them everyday for quick walks is a great way to break them in. It is easier to break in new walking boots by using soft padding, tying them tightly, and wearing breathable socks.

Once the shoes have been broken in, you can wear them on longer walks or treks.

How Should Hiking Boots Fit?

Hiking boots should be comfortable and secure enough to allow for toe movement while also preventing chafing on the feet.

Since ample toe room is necessary in hiking boots, you can wear them everyday with your hiking socks to mold the boots to fit your feet snugly.

How To Stop Chelsea Boots Rubbing Calf?

To stop Chelsea boots rubbing calf, you can wear thicker over-the-calf socks under your boots. Socks with sufficient breathability and cushioning will reduce friction between your calf and the boots and avoid leg chafing.

Additionally, you can tuck your pants inside the boot to stop them from rubbing on your calf.

How To Stop Boots From Slouching At Ankle?

Filling up the boots stops them from slouching at ankle. To keep your boots in shape and prevent sagging, you can stuff them with newspapers, rolls of paper towels, rolled-up magazines, or wine bottles.

Stuffing the boots prevents creases and ensures that they are standing upright, preserving their shape.

Does Vaseline Help Break In Shoes?

Yes, Vaseline helps break in shoes. Vaseline helps to lessen the discomfort by reducing friction caused by your shoes rubbing against your feet.

You can add extra padding or wear thicker socks in addition to using Vaseline to mold the boots to your feet and prevent blisters.

What Socks Prevent Boots Rubbing?

Merino wool socks prevent rubbing of your boots against your feet. Thick socks with ample cushioning support your feet while protecting them from blisters due to friction.

Toe socks are an even better option as they provide an extra layer of protection to the toes, and prevent the unnecessary irritation.

Can You Wear Walking Boots Everyday?

Yes, you can wear walking boots everyday if you find them comfortable for daily use. Walking boots offer improved cushioning and support as well as increased traction to keep you from slipping, which makes your movement simpler not just on treks and trails but also on flat terrain.

How Long Does It Take For Boots To Stop Hurting?

It can take around 80-100 hours for boots to stop hurting if they’re new. New boots need to be broken into before use, which can take a couple weeks time.

You can wear the boots every day for a short period of time to allow them to mold to your feet.

How To Stop Steel Toe Boots From Hurting?

If your steel toe boots are uncomfortable, wearing extra socks will help ease the discomfort. Loose steel toe boots can be painful due to friction between your toes and the boots, hence socks are recommended.

You can use also thicker socks or an insole to ensure there is enough padding to prevent rubbing.

Ready To Return To The Trail Pain-Free?

Now that you have read how to stop walking boots rubbing ankles, you are more prepared to put your best foot forward! 

It may seem like there are a lot of factors to consider when wearing walking boots, but as you have read most of them are easy fixes for you to try out. Certainly take your time to learn, test, and find which tip suits you well. 

You will reap the benefits later. Visualize the feeling of finishing your trail strong instead of in excruciating pain. 

Ensure that your ankles are in good condition and most importantly you can effectively plan your next walk or hike. An added bonus is you got your money’s worth from the walking boots.

Let me know in the common below if your walking boot hurts ankle and whether these tips on how to stop walking boots rubbing ankles have helped you to stop the pain. 

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