Shoe Care & Comfort

10 Quick Ways to Fix a Shoe That Rubs the Top of the Foot

Do you have a pair of shoes digging into the top of your feet? Are they rubbing against your skin, causing discomfort and irritation? If you do, you’re not alone. However, there are several things you can do to stop this rubbing and the pain that goes along with it.

Shoes that rub against your feet can not only be uncomfortable, but somewhat dangerous. When too much friction occurs, it can cause things like a blister, calluses, or even bunions to form. In some cases, these conditions can become somewhat severe, and make it hard to put pressure down on your feet.

A shoe that rubs against the top of the foot is just as bad as a shoe that causes friction on the bottom. When a shoe is too tight at the top of your foot, it can also cause problems with your toes. It can make them feel jammed, and can even create a perfect environment for things like toenail fungus.

This article will focus on how to stop shoes from rubbing against your skin. You don’t have to get rid of a great pair of footwear just because they’re causing you problems. With a few ‘quick fixes’ you can find comfort in your favorite shoes almost right away.

How to Stop Shoes from Rubbing the Top of My Feet

To get your shoes to stop rubbing the little toe, the big toe, or the top of your feet, you probably have to adjust the overall fit. Thankfully, there are a handful of ways to do this quickly, without compromising the structure of your shoe itself.

Let’s take a look at a few of the best ways to get the perfect ‘custom’ fit. Most of these solutions can take place in just a few hours or overnight, and you’ll experience a noticeable difference right away.

  1. A Shoe-Stretching Device

Shoe stretchers are designed to expand the length or width of your shoes enough to give you a little bit of extra room. By stretching out the width, they can expand the top of the shoe to prevent it from rubbing against your feet. We’ve laid out some of the best shoe stretchers, so you can choose one that will fit your individual needs.

  1. Shoe-Stretching Liquid

Whether you use an actual shoe stretcher or not, using a liquid stretching spray is a great solution. It’s also extremely convenient, portable, and easy to use. Shoe stretching liquids are meant to be sprayed inside the shoes. You can then either put a stretching device in the shoes to expand them or use your own feet.

The Kiwi SELECT Universal Stretching Liquid, for example, is designed with a custom fit in mind. You spray the liquid into your shoes, then put them on. In a matter of hours, the material will conform to your feet and offer the perfect fit.

  1. Thick Socks

Put on your thickest pair of socks, and then step into the shoes that are causing problems. If the shoes are made natural materials like leather, suede, or Nu-Buck, they should be fairly easy to stretch. Speed up the process by taking your hair dryer and aiming the air stream at your feet on a hot setting. Be careful not to burn yourself. The heat will help to soften the material, allowing it to stretch out to the thickness of your socks.

Once you put your regular socks on again (or wear your shoes without socks), you’ll notice just enough extra room to be comfortable.

  1. Bunion Plugs

If you’re using a shoe stretcher like we suggested above, it might be a good idea to invest in one that comes with bunion plugs. Bunions are typically found on the big toe. Bunion plugs, like those found on the FootFitter Premium Professional 2-Way Stretcher, can add more room on the top and sides of the shoes where it’s needed most.

Not only will these plugs add a bit more room to prevent bunions, but you can adjust them wherever you need them to stop your shoes from rubbing against your skin when you wear them. They are a great way to further customize the way your shoes fit while you’re stretching them out.

  1. Freeze with Water

One of the best DIY methods for fixing shoes that are too tight is to use bags of water. Fill two sealable storage bags with water, and slip them into your shoes. The water will make it easy for the bags to slide down into the toe of your shoes, so the top and sides can be properly stretched.

Once the bags are securely inside, place your shoes in the freezer. Once the water completely freezes, remove the shoes and allow the water to defrost. Then, remove the bags. Water expands as it freezes, and will expand your shoes in the process for a little extra wiggle room around the toe area and the top.

  1. Wet Newspaper

Similarly to the frozen water method, many people use wet newspaper to stretch out the tops of their shoes. Simply crumple up a bit of newspaper and spray it with water. For even better results, spray it with a shoe stretching liquid.

Place the newspaper inside your shoes and let sit overnight. In the morning, remove the paper, and you’ll notice more room in your footwear. It should be especially present around the toes, sides, and tops of the shoes.

  1. Microwaving Synthetic Shoes

Sometimes, shoes made of man-made materials can cause just as many problems when they are too tight. If you have canvas or synthetic shoes, they can be harder to stretch. However, you can use a heating method in the microwave to stretch canvas shoes quickly.

Be aware of the material of your shoes before you use something like a liquid stretching spray. Sneakers and synthetic shoes don’t often respond as well to certain shoe stretching methods.

  1. Using Oats

The same oats you eat for breakfast can be used to safely and effectively give your shoes a bit more room. This method works especially well with boots that might be too tight on top. Fill resealable bags with dry oats, and cover the oats with water.

The grain will start to swell as it gets wet and will expand your shoes. This may take more than one night, but in a couple of days, you should notice a significant difference in the comfort of your shoes – especially the top!

Pain from shoes on the top of the foot

  1. Rubbing Alcohol

If you’re short on time and want a quick DIY solution for stretching out your shoes, try rubbing alcohol. To use it safely, combine equal parts alcohol and water in a spray bottle. Spray on your shoes where they need the most expansion (in this case, near the top or by the toes).

Put on the shoes while they are still damp, and wear them for 20 minutes to an hour. They will start to conform to your feet and give you a bit of extra room. You can repeat this process several times if necessary. To be safe, always do a ‘spot test’ on your shoes with the alcohol first. Some materials are susceptible to discoloration.

  1. A Big Potato

It may sound strange, but putting a russet potato inside your shoes overnight can help to stretch out the tops. Make sure the potato is big enough to push up on the top of the shoe to create a bulge so that it can expand the material effectively.

A potato shouldn’t leave any residue behind. It can also help to absorb odors within the shoe while it stretches. Because potatoes are safe and natural, you can repeat this method as many times as you’d like until you get the results you desire.

Can I Stretch the Top of My Shoes?

While it’s difficult to target specific spots on a shoe to expand, the tops are relatively easy. If you use a stretching device, it should push up on the material at the top of the shoe and in the toe area enough to stop any rubbing or blistering.

Most of these methods can be done at home in a matter of hours, or overnight. So, you don’t have to live with foot pain or rubbing for very long. If you’d like to prevent it from happening in the first place, try shoe shopping in the evening. Feet tend to swell later in the day due to a lot of walking and standing. When your feet are at their ‘largest’ is when you should try on shoes.

Footwear that rubs against the top of your feet can be uncomfortable and cause unsightly blisters or calluses. Stretching them out safely is the best way to avoid these conditions. You don’t have to return a new pair of shoes or forget about an old pair that doesn’t seem to fit anymore. Try some of these stretching techniques to make sure your shoes don’t continue rubbing against your skin.