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7 Ways to Protect Your Ankles While Breaking in New Skates

Getting a new pair of roller skates is such an awesome feeling. The new smell of leather. No scrapes, scratches or dings on your new boots yet.  

The roller skate wheels and roller skate bearings are brand new. As you open the box, each skate is wrapped in its own plastic.  You quickly tear through the box to get to the skates, slip them on to your feet and roll around the house to make sure everything is just right.

After checking everything out, the anticipation builds for the next time you get to hit the rink floor or the skate park to wear your new ride for an extended period of time and really test them out.

Then often comes the dreaded breaking in new skates phase. The part that many first-time skate buyers have not experienced. The boots are often hard and require lots of use before they get broken in and are fun to use – much like a brand new pair of shoes.  

Maybe you bought the skate a little too big and you get blisters from the extra movement of your foot. Or maybe it’s too tight at the ankle, heel or toes which can cause blisters, cuts and even bruises. Or maybe the boot is just not designed right.

In any of these cases, you are left feeling pretty miserable as you likely just spent hundreds of dollars on a new pair of skates that tear up your feet. It’s a very common problem, and one that I recently had to deal with myself.

Vanilla 360 Skates Rub My Ankles RawPin
I don’t think it’s normal for a pair of skates to rub your ankles raw to the point of bleeding. This is my ankle after I wore my Vanilla 360s for the first time for one 3-hr session. Not fun!

My New Vanilla 360 Boots are Ankle Killers

As many of you already know from my previous review, I recently bought myself a pair of brand new Vanilla 360 skates.

Overall, I like the skates. They look really cool and they have really good movement and are a good all-around skate.  I have been doing some old roller skating tricks in these skates that I just could not do in my old skates.

However, the boot is so uncomfortable on the inner part of the ankles that it’s made me want to take them off several times and throw them in the trash. New skates shouldn’t make you feel that way!

So, in this post, I’m going to cover all of the things that I have tried over the past couple of weeks to protect my feet and ankles while I’m breaking in this new pair of skates.

I’ve done a ton of testing and gathered a lot of data, so I think this will be a useful post. I also have so many different options to try that I’ll likely do a future post on blister prevention as that is different than my current ankle issue with these skates.  

I don’t want to throw these awesome skates in the trash, but I will if I can’t make the boot more comfortable. This is not an issue with me not knowing how to size roller skates, it’s more an issue of bad skate design – in my opinion.

The Vanilla 360 Boot Problem in Detail

First, I should state that I am not a jam skater and I did buy jam skates. I’m a regular rink skater and I’m sure I often use these skates as they were not intended.  

According to Vanilla, this skate was primarily designed from the ground up for Tony Zane – an amazing jam skater.  Of course, I am no Tony Zane. I’m not doing handstands, headstands, windmilling or anything close to that. I do some 1-footed and 2-footed spins and I try to get a lot of exercise by keeping up with my 11 year old, Violet, in speed skating.

Trying to keep up with the kids and using these roller skates for men as an exercise rink skate is where I am getting into the most trouble.  The Vanilla 360 boot has a very low cut on the ankles – which is common with most of Vanilla’s skates.  The boot goes under the ankle bone.  This is a big deal because the reason I am getting the cut is because I am digging in hard around the corners and my ankle is rubbing against the top part of the boot.

I’ve heard complaints from many people who have bought Vanilla boots who are not using them for jam skating.  Most of the kids at my rink have ankle and feet issues with Vanilla boots.  One of my adult skater friends actually said he thinks his Vanilla boots are giving him permanent ankle nerve damage as his feet fall asleep because of the pressure and rubbing around the ankle area and swore to never buy another Vanilla skate again. Of course, he continue to skate in them in hopes that he can break them in.

So, after reading and talking to a number of people about these issues, I set off on a path to figure out a solution.

My 7 Attempts at Protecting My Ankles While Breaking in New Skates

Attempt #1: 2 pairs of socks

This is a technique that everyone online claims will work while breaking in new skates.  The idea is that you wear 2 (or more) pairs of socks and it will help to keep you from getting blisters and cuts as your feet and ankles will fill out the skate better and your foot doesn’t move as much.  My daughter, Violet, wears 6 pairs of socks because the Vanilla Carbon inline skates that she has are a little too big for her – plus she just loves socks.  She also has a pair of rollerblades that she had a similar issue with. She swears that it helps her with blisters and it makes sense if your boot is a little bigger.

However, that is not really my problem.  The Vanilla 360 boot fits snug around my foot.  In fact, the Vanilla 360s actually run a little smaller in size, so wearing two pairs of socks actually makes the skate even more snug and slightly uncomfortable.  For this ankle issue, I wore two pairs of socks and I did not see any relief.  My ankle still rubbed across the top of the boot and eventually caused my ankle to bleed.  It took a little more time for the issue to happen then wearing just 1 pair of socks, but it still happened within an hour.

Dr. Scholls MoleskinPinAttempt #2: Moleskin Padding

Next, I tried some moleskin padding that my wife, Claire, had here at the house.  She swore it would fix my problem. I think she used it on a pair of uncomfortable shoes. On my first attempt, I cut off a 2″x2″ piece just big enough to cover my ankle bruise.  This failed miserably.  Within the first hour of skating, the moleskin had already fell off of my sweaty ankle and the cut on my ankle was again opened.

The next attempt, I tried a much large piece 2″ x 8″ long and that worked better, but I had the same issue after a couple of hours of skating.  The moleskin just wasn’t sticky enough to stay stuck to my skin once I applied heavy friction (and sweat) to that area.

Attempt #3: Extra padding on the inside of the skate

In the beginning, I didn’t know my issue was actually the top of the boot, so I tried adding an extra piece of padding to the inside of my boot.  This piece of extra padding stuck to the inside of the skate boot using small dabs of velcro on one side. They were awesome for the extra padding on the inside of the boot, but the inside of the boot was not the issue so this solution did not work well.  After this attempt I determined that the actual issue was not the side of the boot at all, but actually the top of the skate boot.  I added this attempt in to prove that it’s important to really diagnosis and pay attention to what exactly is causing your issue before attempting to solve it.

Duct TapePinAttempt #4: Add Duct Tape

Everything is better with duct tape, right? For my fourth attempt, I dropped the moleskin and just duct taped my ankle.  Then, I put a sock over it.

After a couple of hours, the duct tape loosened and I had the same issue.  The duct tape didn’t fall off (it is duct tape after all), but my consistent grinding and friction in that one spot caused the duct tape to move up my leg and expose the ankle.  Again, the adhesive rubbed off enough in one spot (even on duct tape) with enough pressure and friction.  I tried this a second time with moleskin first covered with duct tape with no success either. I really thought this one would work.

Round Bandaid Cushions for FeetPinAttempt #5: Round Callus Cushions + Duct Tape

Now, I knew the problem was on the top of the boot. I dug around in the house and found these round callus cushions.  I tried them by themselves, but again they failed miserably.  They quickly came off after less than an hour of skating.

So, I reapplied a new set and duct taped it, but again the duct tape and the cushion loosened as I skated and cut corners making this again a failed attempt.  I was starting to get really frustrated because nothing seemed to be working.

I went ahead and skated without anything for a couple of sessions thinking that maybe the boot would just break in if I kept skating hard on them.  No such luck.  The ankles kept getting rubbed raw and kept bleeding.

Academy Ankle SleevePin
The ankle sleeve I bought at Academy may work great for running, but it doesn’t work for skating.

Attempt #6: Academy Ankle Sleeve

One day before heading to the rink with my bruised up right ankle, I headed over to my local Academy to see if I could find a solution.  I looked in the workout and running area and found an ankle sleeve that seemed like they would work.  They covered the effected part of the ankle.  I bought a pair and headed to the rink.

Unfortunately, the biggest issue with the ankle sleeve was that it was too thick.  This caused my Vanilla 360 boot to be even tighter to the point where it was uncomfortable – especially on the back of my heel.  I continued skating anyways and for the most part my ankle was okay.  I was already bruised up pretty bad, so it was hard to tell but it didn’t seem to get any worse.  The only issue was that when I got done skating, my heel was bleeding.  These ankle sleeves had a large knot just about the back of the heel that rubbed as I skated.  I was trading one bleeding part of my foot for another.  I had to try something else.

Ezeefit Ankle Booties 2mmPin
The EZeefit 2mm Ankle Booty. This was the final solution after my multiple failed attempts at protecting my ankles.

Attempt #7: Ezeefit Ankle Booties

[Full disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate and do earn a commission if you choose to use my affiliate link (the links to Amazon on this page). I’m really proud of this product and use it every time I skate, so if you have any questions about the product, please let me know in the comments below!  It works!]

Finally, I came across a company called EZeefit Sports.  They make a special product called an ankle bootie.  This ankle bootie comes in an ultrathin, 2mm and 3mm variety.  I found them online via recommendations from skaters at my local rink and from the online forum called Skate Log Forum.

I decided to purchase the ultrathin and 2mm ankle bootie options to see how they would work.  I also purchased a Full-Foot Ultrathin bootie that covered the whole foot.  I thought this might be good if I ever had a skate giving me blisters in other areas.

After about a week, the new EZeefits arrived and I headed to the rink to give them a try.  I tried the 2mm EZeefit first.  I realized that based on my current ankle issue, it did not make sense to use the Ultrathin (too thin) or the full foot bootie (no toe issues) in this case.  I slid the 2mm Ezeefit onto my ankle fairly easily.  With my Vanilla 360 boots already being a little snug, I decided to go without a pair of socks over the top of it.

Overall, I skated for 4+ hours in my Ezeefits and they worked great.  My right ankle had built up a decent scab since my last time skating, and it did tear off, but the cutting of the boot into that wound was protected fairly well with the EZeefit in place. I could still feel the boot pressing into my ankle (which was still slightly uncomfortable), but it was not causing my ankle to get any worse. My foot did sweat a lot in this ankle bootie, but the added moisture did not cause any blisters.

The Solution? EZeefit’s Ankle Booties

It was well worth the $20 to buy a pair of EZeefits and try them out.  It’s a really great product, and I would highly recommend it to anyone that has ankle or blister issues – or honestly anyone buying a new pair of skates.  I’ve seen a number of other ankle braces like the ones I bought from Academy (above), but none of them are designed and built as good as the EZeefit for roller skating – they are either too big or the seams are in the wrong spot.  I’m so glad I finally found a solution!

If you’d like to buy your very own EZeefits and would also like to help us out, please purchase using the link below:

Other Options I didn’t Try

My wife suggested that I just cut an inch or two off of the top of the right boot near the ankle.  This would allow me to dig deep into the corners without my ankle rubbing on the top of the boot.  I didn’t really want to try this because I didn’t want to modify the boot or potentially break it structurally in some way.  Another skater also recommended that I take a hot iron to the boot wrapped in a towel.  He said this would have allowed me to better loosen up and shape the boot.  Again, I didn’t try either of these options, but you may want to try it if none of the above options works for you.

What Have You Tried?

So, what have you tried to make your skates more comfortable?  Have you tried something different than me that has worked for you?  If so, share it in the comments section below so that everyone can benefit.

What’s Next?

Next week, I am getting back to the Vanilla Skates Challenge after a week off.  I will be covering the Vanilla Freestyle Pro speed skates.  Until then, keep on rolling!

Want to Learn More About Skating?

Want more reviews on roller skates? Check out my Best Roller Skates page for a list of all of the quad roller skates I recommend. I also have pages for roller skates for men, roller skates for women and roller skates for kids where I recommend the best skates on the market today. Or, check out my roller skates for beginners if you are completely new to roller skating.

Or, if rollerblades or inline skates are more your style, then check out my rollerblades for men, rollerblades for women or rollerblades for kids pages. Or, if you are completely new, check out my rollerblades for beginners page.

Photo of author

Jeff Stone

Jeff Stone started the website RollerSkateDad.com back in 2015. The site specializes in roller skate reviews and advice about skates and all things roller skating. When Jeff isn't skating with his two daughters Lily and Violet, he enjoys writing code, cooking, watching movies and hanging out with his wife Claire and their german shepherd, Electra.

16 thoughts on “7 Ways to Protect Your Ankles While Breaking in New Skates”

  1. I am officially trying your #7 too! My right ankle looks *exactly* like yours in that first pic (same although actually worse)! My left inner heel is also sustaining injuries (blister and/or “heel lift”) in my new skates as well! Only I was thinking maybe I’d try the 3mm (thicker = better?), until I spoke with the guy from ezeefit, I did decide just to go with the 2mm! I do think with how snug my skates are (supposed to be) that it would be darn near impossible to squeeze in a 3mm bootie AND a sock! So I’ll try the 2mm, with a sock over it!

    I will try to report back either way but must admit, if it works as well as you’ve made it sound, and as well as I think it’s going to: I may not be able to respond because I’ll be too busy on the skate floor! So I guess you should only really expect to hear back from me only if they do not work!

    • Hi Shawn – Thanks for stopping by. Here is to hoping that you don’t respond and the EZFits work for you. They certainly do for me and every skater I know at my local rink. Every speed skater I skate with has at least a few pairs. I hope you are tearing up the skate floor. 🙂

  2. These boots on the 360 Pro are ankle killers. I have conditioned the leather with leather oil, taken clamps and repeatedly bent the inner right boots top edge to soften the material, heated the toes and boot several times skating until cool and repeating, moleskin, blister pads, ankle wraps, taken a rubber mallet and pounded the rock hard toes (because they were a full size smaller than standard sizing). After all this… they are getting better. I felt like a prima ballerina destroying a new pair of point shoes to be able to bare the discomfort these skates lack.

    • Hi Kevin – Thank you for sharing with me and the group. I honestly hated my 360 boots. They really are terrible. I know sometimes it takes time to break in a boot, but come on! I wore them for 2 months straight every time I skated, and pretty much cussed the entire time I wore them. Even with EZ Fits on, they still ate my ankles. Maybe I was just trying to do too much in them. I finally pitched them and moved over to the VNLA Diamond and I am so much happier now. I hope yours are finally breaking in by now or you too have moved on to something else that doesn’t kill your ankles. Happy skating my friend! 🙂

  3. obvious ad for #7.
    1) Generally: By additional padding in the affected area you increase the pressure. Not that it just adds to the problem but it also wears out the liner.
    If the issue is a pressure point you can heatform the boot. If the liner is removable, you may add padding around but not above the affected area (in between the boot and the liner).
    2) In this case it might be a too large boot not giving enough heel support or the tongue/lacing/insole being too loose around the foot arch. If heatforming is not an option (most likely with this particular stuff), you probably have to use #6 or #7 (thickness and density of material is important, not the eZeefit branding), just cut out a hole in it aroud the pressure point. The real solution would be to rather choose a skate which seems too tight at the shop.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Dushko. I appreciate your additional tips as they may help others who find this page with their skate, so thank you.

      Heat moldable wasn’t an option with the Vanilla 360. I went through all of these other options trying to fix the issue and the eZeefit was my answer. I thought I could get a generic solution (#6), but I had the same issue. Probably a difference in materials of the 2 booties.

      The eZeefit was pretty cheap and all it required was me sticking them on my feet and then lacing up my skates. I like easy even if it costs me a little more.

      And, yes, if you do click on the link for the Ezeefit I will get a small commission if you purchase it (as I always clearly state in any post with an affiliate link). I only put links to Amazon and other vendors on products that I myself use and endorse.

      Thanks for rolling by!

  4. Hi Jeff! I am currently trying to break in a pair of Candi Girl skates and I found that I’m getting the sort of blister that I get where it is rubbing my ankles raw, similar to yours, but in a different spot. Rather than it rubbing in front of my ankle, it’s rubbing directly underneath my ankle. Now I don’t know if this makes a difference because I am not doing any type of speed skating, just going to the rink and outdoors. Do you think these ankle booties would work? Would they even be necessary, or do you think I should go for something lighter like just the moleskin padding? Also if I were to purchase the ankle booties, should I still put a band-aid or padding over my already-existing blister underneath? Thanks for all your help!

    • Hi Kloe – Thanks for rolling by. Great question. I’m sorry to hear your new skates are causing you issues. The eZeefit bootie covers that I use cover the entire ankle all of the way around the foot. They fit over the heel and go about 1/3 of the way down my foot. They would cover anything near your ankles. And yes, I do think this would likely solve your problem. It certainly solved mine. It was worth the $25.

  5. For awhile, I used EZ fits but it was still too tight at my right ankle bone. So I cut a hole at the ankle bone in my EZ fit and that helped to eliminate some of the discomfort. But in the end, EdgeTek drilled out some of the padding and carbon framing at the ankle and glued mole skin over the drillout hole. That still didn’t really relieve the pain. So eventually, I took a drill bit and drilled a hole straight through the carbon padding and carbon case (hole is hardly noticeable on the outside of the boot) and enlarged the hole just a bit at a time until finally, no more pain!

    I used the same process too relieve pressure and discomfort in my inside arches by drilling a few small holes until the pain/discomfort was eliminated. I covered up the drilled out padding and holes with black super duck tape for a smoother inner surface. Problem solved at last!

    • Thanks, Allan, for stopping by and giving us that tidbit on information. I’m really glad to hear that you found something that would work for you. For me, the EZfits worked best, but others may find another method that works better for them. Good job on finding a solution that worked for you.

  6. I found this after having a similar issue with my new Mint Vanilla Juniors. How’s it going Valerie? Did it improve?

    Do you still wear the sleeve, Jeff?

    • Hi Liss – Yes, I still wear my eZeefits everytime I skate. I ran away from the skates that were causing this issue with me (VNLA 360). I have a pair of VNLA Diamond Walker skates now and I love them. But I still love the eZeefit. It just works. Thanks for rollin’ by.

  7. My husband just bought me a brand new pair of VNLA Tuxedo Jam Skates from Amazon along with Bionic Barefoot Booties that I used for the first time last night at the skating rink and the first thing I noticed is that the left skate boot dug into my inner ankle bone to the point I could barely stay on the rink floor for more than a few minutes at a time and today that ankle is swollen and still sore / bruised. Factoring in that I twisted my left ankle about a year ago and I am unsure of whether it healed properly or not, could the EZfit Ankle Booties still help with that? What recommendations would you suggest to ease the pressure off my ankle bone?

    • Hi KC – Yes. I think the EZFit will help with that. With that said, boots just effect people in different ways. The VNLA 360 boot did the same thing you are describing to me, and the EZFit did help. However, I still wound up switching skates in the long run. You can get a pair of EZFits for less than $20, so I’d at least try that first before sending the skates back.


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