Last Updated on September 10, 2023 by Martina McKeough
Have you purchased a pair of shoes, sneakers or boots and found that your heel is slipping out of the back of the shoe? Not only is this annoying it can also cause problems such as blisters. So how much heel slip is normal in shoes?
I have to say that being older and wiser I very rarely experience heel slippage anymore. This is because when I buy new shoes or boots I make sure that they fit properly right from the start. I am far less tolerant of uncomfortable shoes than I was when I was younger and wanted to wear all the latest designs even if they didn’t suit my feet.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the years that can help you assess any heel slip and decide whether your shoes fit or if you need to think about buying a different size or brand.
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What Is Heel Slippage?
So what exactly is heel slippage? Well, it simply means that when making certain movements in your footwear you fit that your heel starts to rise at the back of your shoes. Sometimes people find their shoes slip slightly whilst others can find that their heel comes right out of the shoe at the back.
In most cases heel slip causes your heel to continually rub against the back of your shoe because there is simply too much space. This continual friction can change the way you walk to counteract the slip and also cause painful shoe bites and blisters.
Not all heel slippage is problematic. The extent of the slipping is really the problem. Many people can cope with their heel slipping by around 1/4 of an inch but it becomes a problem when the movement starts to increase beyond this.
Poor-fitting shoes that cause friction and discomfort are obviously something to be avoided and here is how you make sure that you don’t end up with heel slippage.
What Are The Causes of Loose Shoes?
As I found out when I was younger if you want to prevent heel slippage you need to start right at the beginning of the footwear-buying process to make sure that any shoe you buy fits properly.
Heel slip is caused by a number of different factors which you need to take into account when trying on new shoes for the first time. Here are the most common reasons for the problem.
Buying the Wrong Size Footwear
The most obvious cause of your heel slipping in and out of your footwear is that you have bought the wrong size shoe.
Never buy shoes based on your foot size alone. Try on shoes and assess your shoe size by fit rather than just assuming that the numbers on the shoe are enough.
If you are experiencing heel slip when trying on a new pair of shoes then go a half-size to full-size down to see if that makes a difference.
The Shape of Your Foot
Another common reason heel slip occurs is because of the shape of your foot. If you have a narrow foot for example that can cause more movement in your shoe and cause the heel slip.
To prevent heel slip you need to buy a shoe that compliments the shape of your foot even if that means that your footwear options are more limited. If you don’t you are going to find that your shoe sizing is off and you will end up with friction and heel blisters.
The Shape of Shoes or Boots
Another reason why heel slippage occurs is because of the shape of the shoes, sneakers or boots that you are wearing.
When brands create shoes they are not all made to the same shape. Some may have wide fronts others have narrow backs and so on. Some just don’t seem to suit my feet at all and I spot gaps at the heel or even at the sides which shouldn’t be there.
This means that these poor-fitting shoes don’t suit my foot anatomy and I should avoid them at all costs. You should do the same. Assessing your shoes correctly from the start of the buying process means that you will save yourself considerable time and stress.
You Didn’t Take Into Account Socks and Tights
When you are trying on new footwear you need to wear on your feet what you would normally be wearing with those shoes. If however, you turn up to the shop wearing thick tights or socks that can give a false impression of how much space there is in the shoe.
When you arrive home and you put on thin socks or tights you can suddenly find that heel slipping is occurring because the thick socks made you think you had the right size shoes.
How much room you have in your shoes is dependent on what else you have on your feet at the time of buying so make sure you don’t make silly mistakes by wearing tights or socks that impact the room in the heel area.
Foot slipping Forward
Finally, another reason for heel slip is because your foot is moving forward in your shoes.
If your foot has room to slide forward because you are wearing heels or you have a wide-toe box then it will create a gap at the heel.
Read my article on how to stop feet sliding forward in heels if you want to know some great ways that you can stop this problem.
Are Shoes Too Big If The Heel Slips?
How much heel slip is normal? Well again it will depend on the person, activity or friction but on average heel slippage of up to a 1/4 of an inch is normally manageable. Once your heel slips more than this problems can occur.
Different factors will however alter that number. As an example, a heel slip of slightly more in softback shoes may not cause me too many problems. If I am wearing hardback leather shoes that could change as the more aggressive friction would make it more likely that I would develop blisters.
The activity I am doing will also make a difference. Gentle walking with minimal foot movement means that I may hardly notice the heel slippage however if I am in running shoes and my foot is moving this is more distracting and might impact my performance.
If you find that your heel is slipping in your shoes and you fit that even a small amount is a problem try on new shoes instead for a better fit.
Is It Better for Shoes To Be Tight Or Loose?
When it comes to getting the right size of shoes it is always better for your shoes to be a little loose rather than too tight.
Generally, your shoes should feet snug but not tight. The front of your foot should allow you room for your toes and there should be a slight gap at the back of your shoes. This allows for a small amount of heel slippage but not big movements.
If a new shoe feels too tight when you try it on do not buy it!
How to Stop Your Heel From Slipping Out of Sneakers and Shoes
Whilst the benefit of hindsight is great if you fast forward to where you are now it is probably too late for many of you to return shoes that have a heel slip problem.
I know that I used to make the mistake all the time and buy a pair of shoes whose design I loved only to find out that they didn’t fit my foot properly when I started to wear them out and about.
So now you know how much heel slip is normal you are going to have to implement some fixes to prevent blisters and discomfort if your shoes are driving you crazy.
Here are some of the ways I helped prevent heel slippage in my shoes that worked well.
When Your Shoe is Loose In The Heel Wear Heel Grips
One of the first things I used to use when I had a problem with a heel slipping was to buy some heel grips.
These are really simple devices that you can buy that stick to the back of the inside of the heel of your shoe which prevents your foot from moving upwards.
Heel grips come in various colors that you can buy to match the inside of your shoes so they shouldn’t be that noticeable. The only problem I experienced with some heel grips is that the sticky glue on the back of the grip would sometimes fail and I would need to replace the product. As they are relatively cheap this shouldn’t be too big a problem if you want to try these to get your shoes to have that snug fit.
Heel Slip Pads and Cups
Another game-changer is heel slip pads or cups that are flexible gel inserts that stick to the heel of your shoe to prevent heel slip.
These devices are really simple to attach to the bottom of your shoe in the heel area and they help to prevent issues such as your heel slipping lose. They are also great for cushioning especially if you suffer from plantar fasciitis.
As these are made from gel they are really easy to clean and maintain which means that you can wear them again and again.
Wear Inserts If You Have a Slippery Heel
My all-time favorite solution to heel slip is wearing inserts in my shoes.
Shoe inserts cut to size to fit my shoes are a simple way of helping to lessen the space inside the shoe and this allows my foot to fit better into my footwear.
As they create a better and more snug fit gaps in the shoe tend to get smaller or disappear completely which means my shoe fits better.
They also have a secondary purpose as the shoe inserts I use are super comfortable. As I have tendonitis and a few other foot problems these can be a great way of creating extra cushioning and comfort when I walk.
Sneakers and Dress Shoe Heel Slippage Solutions
For dress shoes and sneakers with laces, the solution can be as simple as changing the way that you tie your shoe laces.
Using the lace lock method for tightening shoes is a proven way to prevent heel slip so that your feet stay firmly in your shoes.
To lock your laces you need to create a loop on either side of the top holes where your laces are and then run the lace through the looks and then tighten.
This method is really simple to do and can save you from having to buy inserts or new shoes.
Using Toe Inserts To Prevent Foot Movement
As heel slip is sometimes caused by your foot moving forward in your shoe there are a number of products that you can use to prevent this forward motion. This is a particular problem with shoes like high heels or wedges where your foot follows gravity.
Toe filler inserts can be placed in the front of your shoe right by your toes to prevent your feet from sliding. This in turn stops the gap appearing at the back of your shoe which causes your heel to move up and down.
Using Metatarsal Pads To Stop Heel Movement
How much heel slip is normal is as I said dependent on the shoes, their material, and your activity. However, if it is bothering you and causing problems then metatarsal pads can be helpful in stopping the problem.
It always feels counterintuitive to use a product under the ball of your foot to solve a problem with your heels but they do work quite well if you have heel slip problems.
This is because metatarsal pads help to keep your foot in place in your shoe. The cushioning is also great for comfort if you experience ball of foot pain.
Metatarsal pads come in all different shapes and sizes but they all help to stop foot movement which in turn prevents gaps from appearing at your heels.
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