Skip to Content

How to Break in Shoes That Rub Your Heel

How to Break in Shoes That Rub Your Heel

No matter who you are, people desire new shoes that are comfortable to walk in or run in and protect you from damage and injury while doing it. Looking good while doing this is a nice bonus.

New shoes are sometimes harsh, causing blisters on your feet. These shoes rub the heels of your feet, making you feel like your heels are burning whenever you are walking or running is a nightmare many people have lived through.

It may not be obvious to everyone, but new shoes should not leave you dreading short walks. They should not leave blisters or rub your heels raw. You can solve this problem by breaking in your shoes. Breaking in shoes refers to getting them to conform to your feet so they are more ergonomic. There are several methods you can use to achieve this—let us look at them.

Using heat

This method is best used with work boots made of leather or suede. Heat makes leather and suede malleable and easier to conform to your foot’s shape. To begin, you need a hairdryer and a thick pair of socks.

Wear your shoes with a thick pair of socks, then apply heat slowly while keeping the dryer some distance away to the back of your heels. As the material of your shoe heats up, it becomes more malleable. Walk around in the shoes as they cool down and they will take on a shape more comfortable to your feet.

This is a good method, as it works on leather, suede, and cloth shoes. It seeks to solve the original problem of ill-fitting shoes.

Just be sure not to overdo the heating, as it can make the shoe bigger than you intend or even burn the shoe. Heat can also make the glue on your shoe melt, resulting in them falling apart.

Using Rubbing Alcohol

Another method you can use to adjust the fit of your shoe is to spray it with rubbing alcohol, then wear it as it dries. The size increase is very small, but that may be all that is needed for it to stop rubbing your heel. You can even soak a pair of socks and wear them with the shoes as they dry for the same effect.

Alcohol is best used on shoes made of cloth, leather, and suede. This method is safe for your shoes, as they are unlikely to be damaged even when used several times for the same pair. It is, however, not as effective as heat treatment.

Bend and Twist the Shoes

Shoe material is usually rigid from the treatments it undergoes. This is the reason it rubs your heels, even if the fit is good.

Twist the shoes immediately after wearing them and they are still warm to make it easier. Especially twist the heel area, as this is where most of the rubbing is.

This method is not immediate in its returns, but it helps the material relax and stretch faster with time. Just remember to not overdo it—you can damage your shoes by bending and twisting them.

Use a Spoon

Yes, it sounds like a joke, but it does work.

Just rub the spoon’s underside along the inside of your shoe, mimicking the motion of your foot as you walk. Apply pressure to that area without scratching your shoes. This will help to break in your shoe by stretching it in the heel area, making it more comfortable, and stop it from rubbing your foot.

You can apply a little heat to the shoe to make the process a little faster.

Shoe-stretching Spray

Leather shoes have a spray specifically made to persuade them to stretch. Since the sprays are made to work with leather, you can confidently use them and not worry about damaging your shoes. They work by penetrating the leather and relaxing the fibers, making it easier to stretch.

Shoe-stretching spray does not relax leather fibers by much, so just like rubbing alcohol, it also stretches your shoes just a little. The spray cannot break leather because of this, that is why it is safe to use on your shoes without breaking them.

Using the spray is very easy—you just spray the affected area with a generous amount and wear your shoes with a thick pair of socks. Walk around so that the shoes stretch and conform to the shape of your foot as the solution dries.

Note that using a leather stretcher after using the shoe-stretching spray will work better than your foot.

Using Moleskin

For slightly tight shoes, wearing them for a few days will break them in and the problem will solve itself; however, you will suffer blisters and pain before that happens. This is where moleskin comes in.

Moleskin is a cotton fabric that will adhere to your shoe and prevent friction from harming you. Just cut out the shape of your heel with scissors and stick it to the shoes where it is rubbing. After a few days, the shoe will conform and become more comfortable.

Moleskin, however, only works with slightly smaller shoes, so only a little tight; if they are very tight, it will not help.

Get better Insoles

Work boots usually have more vertical room in them, even when they are a good fit. This means your foot is usually moving within the boot whenever you move and you are rubbing your heel inside the shoe.

A good insole will fix this issue by giving you a tighter fit and reducing the friction between the shoe and your foot. Insoles also have the benefit of making shoes more comfortable.

Take them to a Cobbler

As a last resort, if you simply do not have the time to try out any of the methods listed above or you have tried and failed to do it yourself, you can take your shoes to a cobbler. Cobblers will diagnose the problem and prescribe the best solution to fix it.

A cobble will likely just use shoe-stretching spray with a stretching machine if that is the solution needed. The benefit of using a cobbler is that he can stretch them sideways, lengthwise, and the toe-box section of the shoes.  


To avoid having trouble like this again, make sure you fit your shoes correctly. You can size down or up if it’s not too late to return or swap the shoe,