Can Work Boots Cause Knee Pain? (Helpful Tips)

Work boots can cause knee pain or they can be of great support to your knees. This article will outline how they can cause you pain, how they can prevent pain, some features to shop for in work boots, including ‘shanks’, and also some general safety tips and habits for how to avoid knee pain while working.

Fact: Knee pain is a condition impacting 25% of American adults.[1] So don’t think you’re immune to knee pain or that it’s not something that will ever concern you.

Even if you’re young and limber now, bad habits and bad footwear will cause you issues down the road, potentially affecting your ability to work productively.

Can bad/cheap/ill-fitting work boots cause you knee pain?

Work boots that do not have good shock absorption can result in much of the shock caused by high impact activities (walking around carrying heavy goods) being unevenly loaded.

This can typically put a large amount of strain onto your knees.

So work boots that don’t fit you properly, or are made from inferior materials can cause a number of problems.

From feet rolling too far forward or backward (causing your feet to do the same) or the heels of your boot being too high or too low, which will either lead to too much pressure on the back of the knee or too much pressure on the front.

Also, avoid high heeled work boots. They change the distribution of your balance in a way that is bad for the fragility of your knees.

What features should look for in a work boot to prevent knee pain?

Some general features to look for in a work boot to prevent knee pain include:


The middle of the boots near where the ball of your feet and toe joint rests should allow for natural pronation (rolling) and movement.

Shock absorption

Deflecting the impact on your feet while you are out and about or carrying heavy objects will reduce the pressure on your knees, hips and feet, reducing the potential for pain.

Arch Support

Arch Support is vital because this reduces the amount of pressure on your feet, helping you walk with a good posture. Good posture in turn aids your knees and prevents pain.

Stability. Your work boot’s heel should fit well, securing the arches and the back of the feet in place.

Slip resistance

This is crucial. Insecure footwear can result in you falling over, which could be fatal or very dangerous on a work site.

But even if you stay upright, no slip resistance will put a lot of pressure on your knees if you

What are Shanks? Can they prevent knee pain?

It may also be worth investing in a spare ‘shank’. Shanks are pieces of material sitting between the insole, the upper and midsole.

They form the spine of the sole of a work boot and they matter because they play a crucial role in foot support.

Shanks support your feet and without a strong shank, boots will flex more than they shold, weakening the support for your knees.

Steel is the best material, but other materials are also good. Make sure you know what the shank of your boot is made of before you buy it.

So to keep your knees supported in your boots, keeping a spare shank may be worth it to maintain the structural integrity of your boots and avoid knee pain.

Buying a spare shank is cheaper than buying a whole new pair after all.

Safety tips to avoid knee pain whilst wearing safety boots

As well as good quality shopping, there are a number of habits in walking and posture you can adopt to prevent knee pain whilst working.

Obviously, doing manual labor and exercise is going to take a toll on your knees no matter what. But there are still some things you can do while working and throughout the rest of your day, that can prevent knee pain.

Try to work on even surfaces, avoid treading on things and losing your balance.

Even if your boots will protect you from immediate damage to your feet, the uneven surfaces will contribute to an imbalance, adding stress to your knee joint.

Keep your back straight while working and do not bend past your toes when kneeling. This ensures your weight distribution is kept even between both feet.

Make sure you use your back and your knees when lifting heavy objects, not just your knees. Lifting heavy things improperly will add to the strain on your knees.

Finally, losing weight can reduce the strain on your knees, particularly if you are on your feet all day in work safety boots. See your doctor or nutritionist if this is a concern for you.


This article has given you some hints on how to prevent knee pain and avoid long-term conditions such as arthritis.

This can be done through smart shopping for effective footwear and also good habits while you’re working with safety boots, as well as a generally healthy diet and lifestyle.

Your knees are one of your more important joints, and you would be shocked what you cannot do without them. So look after them!

Again, remember to seek medical attention if you feel like you are suffering knee pain from wearing work boots all day.

Team Members Working On This Page

Adrian – Web Master / Construction Professional

Construction Professional, driver, crane operator, cleaner, head chef … these are just some of the jobs I did in the past. Working in all these different environments taught me that having good footwear to protect your feet from different dangers at work IS PARAMOUNT for any worker! On this website, I aim to share all my knowledge and personal experience in dealing with different footwear and foot care issues, and hopefully, you can get something out of it. Enjoy!

Theo Cox / Researcher, Writer

I’m an MA student currently working on a research project for King’s College London Museum of Life Sciences alongside my MA dissertation. I have been published in my student newspaper, The Spectator, and the Adam Smith Institute. I’m doing part of the research and writing of the content you’ll read on Enjoy!

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