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Are Cowboy Boots Bad for Your Feet, Back, or Knees? 3 Keys

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For more times than I care to remember, I get asked if wearing cowboy boots causes me problems with my feet, back, or knees. The questions’ frequency made me wonder if I’m alone in not having issues, so I decided to find out if others have problems wearing cowboy boots.

Cowboy boots are not bad for your feet, back, or knees. In fact, they are about as comfortable footwear as any. Unless the heels are too high, they fit improperly, or you have a particular health condition, you’ll be just fine walking around in cowboy boots.

Though cowboy boots are generally comfortable, certain health conditions like chronic back pain may require you to get custom-made boots. Let us learn more about these boots and whether you should use them or not.

Are cowboy boots bad for your knees?

These days, it’s not just about the look of your boots – how they feel when you walk is also critical. The best cowboy boot brands take this into consideration by focusing on design characteristics that reduce pain and increase comfort for customers; these are less likely to cause problems down the road.

For a healthy person, most cowboy boots do not contribute to any knee pain or discomfort. In fact, my cowboy boots are so comfortable that I wear them almost daily and have never experienced any knee pain.

If you are having pain in your knees when you wear cowboy boots, it can be due to three reasons.

Heels too high can cause knee pain.

The first possibility is that your cowboy boots have very high heels. When the heel height is between 1 and 1.5 inches, there won’t be any pressure on your knees, and your boots will maintain your leg’s alignment and provide balance.

But, when the heel is higher than 2 inches, it can cause knee pain. And in that case, you will need to get a new pair of cowboy boots with a lower heel.

Improper fitting boots can cause knee pain.

Another possible reason for knee pain is that your boots are not the right fit and are uncomfortable and painful. When cowboy boots are too tight, they can alter your correct walking stride.

Even if they are comfortable on your feet but do not have enough room to bend at the ankle or the calf, they will cause muscular pain.

A health condition can cause knee pain.

The third possibility is that you have some undiagnosed health issues, like weak muscles or muscular imbalances. In this case, all your shoes and boots will likely be painful for you.

If choosing the right size of boots and reduced heels does not help you, and the pain persists, you should visit a doctor or PT. They might prescribe something like arch support inserts and specific exercises to strengthen muscles, helping decrease the pain.

Are cowboy boots bad for your feet?

Cowboy boots keep my feet comfortable, sometimes even more so than tennis shoes. I was diagnosed with Plantar Fascitis a few years ago and found that wearing cowboy boots actually helps my foot pain. However, some are better than others, and I also find that switching boots daily helps.

Cowboy boots also provide other benefits. The tall, leather shaft of cowboy boots protects you from thorns, rocks, and brushes. Further, the thick leather and tall shaft keep you safe from puddles and mud in wet weather.

Cowboy boots are good for your tendons.

The slight lift given to heels by cowboy boots helps strengthen the Achilles tendon. When the Achilles tendon is stressed, it causes pain in the back of the heel. Heel pain caused by stressed tendons is a common foot problem.

The elevated heel of cowboy boots shortens the tendon and reduces pain in the foot. Also, cowboy boots are rigidly designed. They provide a solid foundation for your feet and keep them comfortable.

Cowboy boots can be bad for your feet in some instances.

Cowboy boots are not good for your feet if you have some structural deformity. Structural deformities in the foot can result in plantar fasciitis – an inflammation of the foot that results in pain in the foot.

As I stated above, I find that some of my cowboy boots help my plantar fasciitis. If you have this condition, you need a pair of cowboy boots with good arch support and ones that fit correctly.

Boots not properly sized can hurt your feet.

Cowboy boots will also hurt if they are the wrong size. If they are too big, you will have excessive heel slippage while walking. The slippage can cause painful blisters on your heel. If they are too tight, they will hurt your toes or irritate the whole foot.

Like a pair of tailored gloves, the right leather boots will mold to your feet and become more comfortable as they’re worn. They should fit snugly with just enough space so that you can wiggle toes and allow your heel to slip about one-half inch.

Picture of pointed cowboy boots that hurt some peoples feet.

Are cowboy boots bad for your back?

Do cowboy boots cause back pain? This is a question that many people have asked, and the answer is not entirely clear. There are certainly many anecdotal stories about people who have suffered back pain from wearing cowboy boots, but there is not much scientific evidence to support this claim.

I’ve worn cowboy boots for years, and so have most of my friends without it causing us back pain. However, some experts believe that the stiffness of the boots can lead to discomfort and back pain, while others say that it all comes down to how you wear them.

So, what is the truth? In general, you can wear cowboy boots without feeling any discomfort or pain in your back. However, there are exceptions.

High-heeled cowboy boots can cause back pain.

Cowboy boots will only cause you back problems if their heels are very high. Any heel higher than 1.5 inches can cause your back to arch. It will make your knees bend and force the quadriceps to work harder.

High heels throw off the body’s alignment and stress the spinal cord’s joints and discs, resulting in back pain. So, it would help if you avoided high-heeled boots.

Stiff cowboy boots can cause back pain.

Further, if the soles of your boots are too rigid, it can also cause back pain. However, when cowboy boots have been broken in, they are generally comfortable for walking.

Consult a doctor if you have a pre-existing back condition before buying cowboy boots.

Lastly, cowboy boots can give you back pain if you already have some chronic back issues. In this case, you need to consult a doctor.

The solution is often an arch insert or a specially designed insole that provides extra support to the foot and relieves back pain.

Picture of me wearing wrangler jeans with a pair of Chisos cowboy boots.

Wearing cowboy boots

I love wearing cowboy boots and own twelve pairs. And I am not alone. Cowboy boots are loved all across America and especially in the West. They were once a necessity for cowboys on the ranch, but they are now a cultural and fashion symbol.

But some skeptics avoid wearing boots for fear they will damage their feet, knees, or back. I was curious to discover why so many people think cowboy boots are uncomfortable or harmful to knees or feet.

So, I studied the subject in detail and also looked at the history of cowboy boots. Here is what I found.

Cowboy boots were originally designed for riding.

During the second half of the nineteenth century, German boot-makers introduced cowboy boots to cowboys in Texas.

They designed high-heeled, narrow-toed boots for men who had to spend their whole day in saddles. The narrow toes made it easy to insert and remove feet from stirrups, and high heels prevented the feet from going in the stirrup all the way and getting caught.

The boots had leather shafts that reached halfway up the shins and reduced rubbing against the stirrup leather. The high arches of the boots made standing in the stirrups easier.

All these features meant that the original cowboy boots were highly uncomfortable to walk in.

But that was long ago.

Picture of my Chisos cowboy boots.
Chisos Cowboy Boots

Modern cowboy boots are designed for comfort.

Through the years, another type of cowboy boots was designed to be used for any activity and worn daily. This new type of cowboy boots results from adjustments like lower heels, wider toe boxes, and more flexible leather.

Such cowboy boots have more of a symbolic value. They are representative of the Western lifestyle and are associated with toughness and grit. But just as there are many different bookmakers, there are even more styles.

Today, both types of cowboy boots are available: those specifically designed for riding and ones that can be worn daily, and even some boots are suitable for both riding and everyday wear.

I have a couple of pairs of cowboy boots that I ride in and wear daily without causing me any pain. Currently, my favorite pair are Tecovas “The Docs.” They are exceptionally comfortable for walking and work well in stirrups.

Below is a YouTube video comparing a good pair of boots to cheap ones.

Conclusion

Cowboy boots are just as comfortable as any other footwear on the market. Plus, they provide additional advantages like protection from water, mud, thorns, and rocks. And they look great.

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