Why Work Boots Are So Uncomfortable (7 Main Reasons Explained)

Do you feel pain, tightness, and pressure in your feet every time you wear work boots?

The first suspect of an injured foot is the work boot. But sometimes, it’s your feet and lifestyle that are making your safety boots uncomfortable! 

Here’s why some work boots are so uncomfortable.

Work boots are uncomfortable because your foot bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles do not support some of the features of your safety boots.  Raised heels, steel toes, and heavyweights alter your foot’s natural position, and it records these as discomfort.

a worker who's showing pain or discomfort due to his working boots

To know why your work boots feel so uncomfortable, it’s essential to understand the morphology of your feet. Your foot has three joints, 26 bones, and at least 100 muscles and ligaments.

Any changes in alignment or position to these parts of your foot will make you feel pain or discomfort.

In most cases, we swaddle our feet into boots and socks and sometimes forget them there.

And when there is some foot pain or discomfort, we assume that we will be okay soon and adapt to the new boots.

Podiatrists and chiropodists advise that you seek quick medical attention before the foot pain turns into a bigger problem. 

7 Reasons why work boots might be uncomfortable

Behind every foot pain is an uncomfortable work boot. As long as there is no other illness or injury, your work boot could be your first suspect. Indeed, most work boots aren’t as comfortable as standard boots.

 Here are some reasons why your work boots may be feeling so uncomfortable:

  1. Is your first time using this type of footwear (you’re not used to it)

If you are used to light sporting shoes, the work boots will feel quite heavy and bulky. That’s how I felt the first time I had to use a pair of work boots.

I thought something was wrong with my boots…but in reality, it was just me not being used to working in this type of footwear.

But with time, you will get used to it.

  1. Some work boots require a lot of time to break-in

Leather, unlike synthetic fibers, contracts and expands depending on how regularly you wear it. If you are wearing new boots for the first time, you may feel a little uncomfortable.

After some time, the leather will curve and form enough pouch space for your foot.

Have the old boots with you because the new ones may not exactly feel good enough. Have a plan on how to break into your new leather work boots.

For instance, you can change between your old and new boots through your 8-hour shift.

  1. Buying the wrong size

You can stretch leather and fit it in a new boot. But there’s little you can do to a boot that is too small.

Such boots cramp your feet and toes and cause blisters.

At least make sure to buy a boot that’s true to size. You can even go to the local store and have them measure you with the Brannock device.

But because not all the suppliers and manufacturers provide true-to-size boots, always experiment and research widely before adding to your cart. (btw, here’s how work boots should fit in the first place.)

  1. Buying the wrong type of boots for the job

Each work environment has specific hazards that will require different features. For instance, a Dunlop might be a great boot for pouring concrete but may feel very uncomfortable in the feet of an electrician.

In the same way, the hazards in an environment that requires concrete pouring or construction work may be unfit for light-duty work.

If you don’t need the extra traction that a logger boot provides, don’t get boots with high heels. Get a great work boot with a nice and comfy wedge sole instead.

To make things easier for you, we’ve done a lot of research and put together a list of different boots that are good for different things. Read our best work boot page here where you can find different work boots for different purposes, professions and conditions.

  1. Buying the wrong type of boot for your feet

If I take the position of the Devil’s Advocate, probably the reason your boots are uncomfortable is not because of the boot- it’s the type of your feet!

The first rule of buying a work boot is understanding your type of feet.

  • Do you have a raised arch or a flat foot?
  • How wide are your feet? 
  • Are your left and right legs symmetrical?
  • Do you need ankle support?
  • What type of toe cap does your job require? (if any)

Answer these questions, and you will know which boot would best work for you.

  1. Buying very cheap work boots (poor quality)

Some work boots are uncomfortable just because they are cheap and low-quality.

As an honest observation, many people make the mistake of going for the most inexpensive work boots because it fits the description and budget.

But knee-deep in wearing the boot, it becomes so uncomfortable to the point of causing untold foot injuries and problems.

While it is okay to buy a work boot that fits your budget, the pricing should never be the selling point. Treat your work as an investment or work equipment to help you do work. 

Then, be ready to pay a premium to get high-quality comfortable work boots that will last and keep your feet safe.

  1. The steel toe 

A steel toe is one of the most uncomfortable features of a work boot. Especially when it’s not well fitted in cheap work boots, it could end up having your bones.

If the toe box is narrow, it may push the smaller toes. So it’s no wonder that you could develop corn.

If your work boot is not new, but it starts feeling uncomfortable, check the steel toe. A damaged or burnt steel toe is in itself a safety hazard.

Replace it with the help of an experienced cobbler. Or, get new high-quality steel toe work boots altogether. 

If you start a new job in construction, a steel toe cap, amongst others is one of the safety features you’ll need in order to be allowed on site.

We’ve put together a list of the best construction work boots that are great right from the bat. Make sure you check it out!

Why are high heeled work boots so uncomfortable?

Also known as logger boots, work boots with high heels tend to be uncomfortable. If you’re working with them on the straight concrete, this boot may feel uneasy to your entire leg, feet, and posture.

Typically, logger work boots are uncomfortable because of the position in which they raise your leg and feet.

First, instead of the body’s weight directing naturally to the heel, it goes to the ball of the foot.

So, you will start feeling pressure at the area your foot meets the toes around the medial plantar nerve, which can cause numbness in the toes. The result is Morton’s neuroma.

The raised heel causes the Achilles tendon to tighten up. Your calf muscles contract beyond their limit, and they may tighten or shorten. 

So if you’re working on the farm a lot, maybe a cowboy, a cowgirl, these might be great but don’t buy high-heeled work boots to work in a warehouse for example where the floor is nice and level. High-heeled work boots might be a great choice for riding your motorcycle at work though.

Ultimately, it comes down to what we said in the section above: buy the right boot for the right type of work you’re doing.

What can you do to make your work boots more comfortable?

Remember, your work boots are the first suspect when you have foot pains. So, try to make them comfortable with the following tweaks:

 The Dos

  • Break into your work boots by wearing them once in a while at home
  • Scarf up the heels by sanding them
  • If you feel that the width of the boot is too tight, then use a shoe stretcher. When you insert this wooden or metallic sculpture into your boot, it will break in for you
  • Try different lacing combinations.  If your boot is feeling too tight, skip some eyelets
  • If breaking in your boots seems complicated, seek professional assistance from a specialized cobbler
  • Don’t wait until you are busy with work to adapt your foot to work boots. Instead, spend time wearing them beforehand maybe walking your dog or around the house
  • Treat the leather too soft in it and make it comfortable
  • Condition your leather boots to moisturize them. As long as the leather is animal skin, applying conditioners, oils, and other moisturizing liquids will hydrate and soft end it. Moistened leather is more comfortable because it bends easily. 
  • Seek medical advice from a specialist if you have persistent pain or discomfort.

The Don’ts

  • Do not put your work boots on fire. Applying Direct heat to uncomfortable boots is a myth that has already gone viral.

    Some people just can’t get that baking new safety boots does not make them any bigger. Hey, your boot is not a doughnut!

    Even if you blast the leather boot with hair dryers or blow-drying machines, the heat will only adversely affect the leather.

    Usually, the heat takes any moisture out of the leather, which only makes it more challenging. And while the moisture is leaving the leather, it will expand and cause cracking on the leather surface. This ruins your work boots.
  • Do not kick your work boot off. It’s almost a tradition for every construction worker to kick their boots off as soon as they arrive home.

    Of course, the day is tiring, and reaching home brings such great feelings. But kicking the work boot at the heel not only dishonors your boot’s good work but also damages it.

    If you repeat the action every day for a month, you will realize that some of your work boots’ features may get damaged.
  • Do not soak your boots in water because it could damage the EVA foam and leather.

    Waterlogged boots will break the leather and other features.

    The warm, humid environment also invites a lot of unwanted fungi, bacteria, and foul smells.

What to look for next time you buy work boots?

Certain features will make you feel comfortable in your work boot. Start by buying good quality work boots. I can’t stress this enough.

Find a boot that fits you well and has features specifically for comfort.

The key features that make a work boot comfortable include:

  • Lightweight
  • Sufficient arch support
  • Waterproof or breathable design
  • Cushioned inner soles
  • Soft and supported footbed
  • Wide enough to snuggle your feet
  • Flexible rubber soles

Conclusion: Are work boots worth the money?

Of course, work boots are worth every penny.

In most job situations, work boots are referred to as personal protective equipment or PPE. You need to wear them to protect yourself from the obvious (and not so obvious) hazards of your work environment.

But at least make sure to buy comfortable work boots.

Team Members Working On This Page

Jessica Flynn
Jessica Flynn – Writer And Researcher

Love technology, going to the beach, take care of my body, and writing (amongst other things). You’ll see my face around here a little bit since I’m responsible for part of the research and writing of some of the articles you’re reading on BestForMyFeet.com. I hope you’ll find our content helpful and enjoyable! See you around, thanks for reading!

Adrian – Editor / Webmaster

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!

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