How to Fix Toe Holes in Running Shoes: 4 reasons and 4 solutions

Looking down at your running shoes only to see holes around the big toe can be disheartening. Things are even worse if it is your favorite pair that cost you a small fortune. Or you do not have the plan or funds to replace the shoes anytime soon.

Luckily, toe holes are fixable. You can quickly patch them up with things you already have at home, like duct tap. It will only take a few minutes, and if you do a good job, you can significantly increase the shoe’s service life.

But what causes running shoes to get toe holes, and how can you prevent them? Also, can you repair the holes permanently?

With over 10 years running experiences, this article answers these questions to help you keep your running shoes in the best shape.

We also answer some FAQs that you are probably also asking yourself. So make sure you read to the end!

Why Your Running Shoes Get Toe Holes 

Toe holes will make the shoes uncomfortable and impact your running performance. They can also cause foot health issues and affect the shoes’ durability. But why do your running shoes get toe holes?

Here are some of the main causes of toe holes in running shoes:

1. Friction

When running, friction between your toes and the shoe’s fabric causes wear and tear. This often leads to the formation of toe holes.

2. Wear and Tear

Wear and tear causes the material around the toes to get thinner, and the shoe’s structure weakens. It hence becomes easier for your toes to punch holes through the fabric.

3. Poor Shoe Fit

If your shoes do not fit well, there will be more friction between your toes and the fabric around them. This eventually creates stress points that tear easily.

4. Poor Shoe Quality/Material

Shoes made with cheaper materials are more susceptible to forming toe holes. Things like poor stitching and the use of low-quality adhesive also make shoes prone to toe holes.

Quick Fixes for Temporary Solutions

If you do not have the time or money for permanent fixes, there are some quick fixes you can try. Here are 3 of the best ones you can try:

1. Duct Tape or Adhesive Patches

Duct tape is always the first thing most people grab to fix almost anything. It can be a quick and easy fix for toe holes. You can also use adhesive patches if you have some. Here is how to do it:

Step 1: Clean the Area Around the Hole

Start by cleaning the area around the hole. Remove any dirt or debris which might prevent the tape from sticking properly. Make sure you also cut any loose threads around the hole. Allow the shoe to dry before moving to the next step.

Step 2: Cut Duct Tape or Adhesive Patch

Cut a piece of duct tape/adhesive patch slightly larger than the hole. Apply the tape or patch over the hole and press it firmly for a few seconds. Remember to smooth out the patch. Wrinkles and air bubbles affect the effectiveness.

Step 3: Reinforce the Patch if Necessary

The last step is to check the condition of the repair. If it does not feel secure enough, you should reinforce it. You can do this by adding another layer of duct tape or an adhesive patch slightly larger than the original one.


  • Readily available in most homes
  • Quick and easy repair that only takes a few minutes
  • Prevents the hole from enlarging before a permanent fix


  • Leaves the shoe looking ugly
  • Covers the mesh and reduces breathability
  • The repair is not very durable

2. Toe Caps or Protectors

Toe caps and toe protectors are another easy fix for toe holes. They will not repair the hole, but they can cover it and prevent further damage. They also make the shoe more comfortable. You will not need to worry about the hole for a while.

The toe caps will protect against wear and tear by minimizing friction around the toe area. They also add an extra layer of protection for the toe area and distribute stress. This minimizes the impact on the shoe’s fabric. Plus, they provide added structural support if the hole has weakened the shoe’s integrity.

While toe protectors and caps can help with toe holes, you must choose the right type. Here is a list of the most common toe caps in the market:

  • Steel toe caps
  • Composite toe caps
  • Rubber toe caps
  • Silicone toe caps

Rubber and silicone toe caps provide a thick layer of protection. They are also highly effective at impact and abrasion protection. The two are hence the best materials for dealing with toe holes.

Choose the toe cap you find most comfortable. Also, ensure it is the right size for your shoes, but most can be trimmed to fit them perfectly. Plus, it is vital to install them properly. Make sure your shoes are clean and dry before installing toe cap. Use shoe glue or adhesive to keep the toe caps securely in place.

3. Shoe Glue or Shoe Repair Adhesive

Shoe glue provides another quick and effective fix for shoe holes. Unlike duct tape, it does not affect the shoe’s aesthetics significantly. Follow the simple steps below for this repair:

Step 1: Choose the Right Shoe Glue

The first step is to choose a glue or adhesive for the material you want to repair. What works for mesh might not be effective enough for leather or canvas.

Step 2: Clean the Hole

Start by cleaning the area around the hole. Dirt, debris, and loose threads can affect the glue’s adhesiveness. You must remove them before the next step.

Step 3: Apply Glue

Next, apply a small amount of glue on both sides of the glue. Use a toothpick to ensure you spread it evenly. You can then press the sides of the hole together firmly to close it.

Step 4: Allow Glue to Dry

The glue or adhesive can take a few minutes or several hours to dry. Read the manufacturer’s instructions on the packing and give it enough time. Only wear the shoes when the glue is dry completely.

Note: While the glue can effectively repair the hole, it has limitations. For instance, the flexibility of the fabric around the hole will reduce. Working with shoe glue can also be quite messy, and the smell is unpleasant.

Permanent Solutions for Toe Hole Repair

If you are not planning to replace your running shoes soon, you need a more permanent repair for toe holes. You can try several things, but here are your 3 main solutions:

1. DIY Shoe Patching

If you have experience repairing shoes, you should have an easy time patching up toe holes. You can, however, still do it even without prior experience. Here is a brief guide on how to do it properly:

What You Will Need

  • Shoe patch kit (optional)
  • Shoe glue/adhesive
  • Shoe repair patch/fabric
  • Scissors
  • Shoe cleaner or mild detergent
  • Clamps (you can also use heavy books)

Step-by-Step Directions

Step 1: Prep the Shoes

Start by preparing the shoes for repair. You should clean them properly with the shoe cleaner or mild detergent. Remove any dirt and debris around the hole. Also, use the scissors to carefully cut any loose threads.

Step 2: Prep the Patch

Next, prep the patch as you wait for the shoe to dry. Cut a patch from fabric that closely matches the shoe material. Make sure the patch is larger than the hole and round the corners. Rounding makes it hard for the patch to peel.

Step 3: Apply Adhesive on the Patch

Apply the adhesive to the patch but do not put too much. Use a toothpick to spread it. Ensure it forms an even coat over the patch.

Step 4: Press the Patch Over the Hole

Press the patch over the hole. Ensure it covers it perfectly. Press it firmly and apply even pressure for good adhesion.

Step 5: Allow it to Dry

Lastly, clamp the patch in place or place books over it and allow it to cure. It takes a few hours, but it is best to leave it overnight.

Pro Tips

  • Trace out the size and dimensions of the hole on the patch using a marker pen before cutting. This will ensure you get a better fit.
  • Test the adhesive on a small, inconspicuous shoe part before use. This allows you to determine if it can bleach or damage the shoe fabric.
  • Wear gloves to make handling the shoe glue safe and less messy.

2. Professional Shoe Repair Services

You can also take your shoes for professional shoe repair. Although this will be more expensive, it has many benefits. For example, the professional cobbler will do a much better job than you. A cobbler’s patch will last longer and is also more aesthetically appealing.

There is also a reduced risk of further damaging the shoes with adhesive if you have it done by a cobbler. And this is more so if you go to a local shoe repair shop specializing in repairing athletic footwear.

There are also other factors to consider. They include ensuring they have a good reputation for repairing running shoes. A good cobbler should also be cost-effective and offer fast turnaround times.

3. Toe Hole Prevention Inserts

Another permanent solution is buying toe hole prevention inserts. While these inserts will not cover the hole, they prevent them from enlarging. They attach to the inside of the shoe and contour to its shape, providing an extra layer of protection. You should use the inserts after making the repairs using one of the 2 options above. They will help extend the life of your running shoes.

Preventing Future Toe Holes.

Prevention is also better and easier than dealing with toe holes. Finding ways to prevent them is important to avoid dealing with the hassle of fixing the holes. Here are some preventative measures you can use:

Buy Good Running Shoes

Always buy well-made running shoes. Go for shoes made with high-quality materials that are more resistant to tear. Also, look for something with reinforced toe boxes. A reinforced toe box is highly effective at preventing toe holes. 

Plus, make sure the shoes have adequate toe box room. A large toe box room minimizes friction between the toe and shoe material.

Choose the Right Shoe Size

It is hard for a shoe that fits well to develop toe holes. A good fit means minimal friction between the toe and the shoe. Something too tight or loose also creates pressure points. Pressure points make toe holes more likely to form.

Regular Shoe Cleaning

Cleaning your shoes eliminates dirt and debris particles. These particles contribute to wear and tear, which causes toe holes.

Replaces Worn Out Shoes

Even the best running shoes have a lifespan. You need to inspect your shoes regularly. If you see any signs of deterioration and thinning of the material, replace them. If you do not replace them, they will develop toe holes soon.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long do temporary fixes like duct tape or adhesive patches last?

Anything from a few days to a couple of weeks. That largely depends on how well you do the repairs. The patch will last longer if you use good-quality tape/adhesive. Also, how frequently you use the shoes and where determines the longevity. Still, it is important to remember this is a temporary fix.

Can toe caps affect the breathability of running shoes?

Yes, they will affect breathability. Toe caps made from solid materials like rubber and silicone will cover the mesh around the toes. They will affect the airflow, leading to sweaty feet as more heat and moisture builds up. Some toe caps are made with perforations or have a breathable material in their design. They can hence maintain good breathability. Also, a toecap that fits properly is less likely to affect breathability.

Is DIY shoe patching recommended for all types of running shoes?

No, some shoes are too delicate or have a complex structure. Trying to repair them without the expertise or experience can ruin them further. If you are unsure if you can patch the shoe without damaging it, you are better off taking it to a professional. Also, check manufacturer recommendations and try to find out other runners’ experiences.

How often should I replace my running shoes to avoid toe holes?

Most experts recommend replacing your running shoes every 300 to 500 miles. Some recommend doing it at least every 12 months. Remember that running shoes are not made the same. They differ in everything from material to design. The frequency of replacing your running shoes will depend on the specific shoe. It is better to watch for signs of wear and deterioration to know when to replace them.

Can toe holes be covered by the shoe warranty?

Not really. Shoe warranties typically cover manufacturer defects or issues with the craftsmanship. You can claim the warranty if you can prove that the holes result from either. Nonetheless, warranty terms and what is covered vary from one shoe brand to the other. It is important to check the specific terms to determine whether toe holes are covered.

Does shoe goo fix holes in shoes?

Yes. Shoe goo is, in fact, one of the best adhesives to use when repairing toe holes. The adhesive is known for its durability and flexibility, so you can be sure it will give you a durable patch. It is, however, important to note that it will work best for materials like fabric, leather, and vinyl. 


Toe holes in running shoes are common, especially for regular runners. The good news is that they are fixable. You can do a quick fix with duct tape or an adhesive patch, a more permanent DIY patch, or take it to a professional.

You should always take immediate action when you notice toe holes developing. They will be easier to deal with when they are still small. Repairing them early can prolong the shoe’s service life significantly.

Repairing toe holes helps keep your running shoes intact. Keeping shoes in good shape is vital for foot health and ensuring optimal running performance.

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