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Why Do Cowboy Boots Hurt My Feet: What You Can Do About It

Last updated: November 15, 2023

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

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Experiencing discomfort with your new cowboy boots? You’re not alone. Many people find that cowboy boots, despite their stylish appeal, can cause significant foot pain. This discomfort often stems from issues like tight fit, inadequate arch support, or selecting the wrong style for your foot shape.

In this article, I examine the common reasons behind the pain caused by cowboy boots and offer practical solutions to make them more comfortable. Whether it’s adjusting the fit, choosing the right style, or addressing arch support, I’ll guide you through how to enjoy your cowboy boots without discomfort. m

Picture of cowboy boots with different style toes.

Why Do My Feet Hurt After Wearing Cowboy Boots?

Well, there are a few reasons your feet hurt after wearing cowboy boots. It could be that your boots are too tight and need time to break and mold to your feet. It could also be that you have poor circulation in your feet, exacerbated by wearing cowboy boots. Finally, it’s possible that you simply don’t have the correct type of foot support in your cowboy boots.

If your feet hurt after wearing cowboy boots, you should first try to break in the boot. If the pain persists, you might need a pair of cowboy boots with built-in arch support or inserts to give your foot the support it needs.

You can also try using steam or a boot stretcher to stretch out the boot or wearing a bigger size boot. If you continue to have trouble finding a pair of cowboy boots that don’t hurt your feet, try on different brands and styles until you find the perfect fit.

For example, if you do a lot of walking in your boots, you want comfortable insoles and low heels; I prefer a 1 to 1 1/2 heel for everyday wearing. Roper-style cowboy boots typically are the most comfortable for walking. I’ve owned Justin and Ariat Ropers and found them both exceptionally comfortable.

You can also order custom-made cowboy boots to ensure they fit your feet perfectly. Just consider the width and length of your feet when ordering custom-made boots.

Whatever you do, don’t give up on cowboy boots altogether. With a little effort, you can find a pair of cowboy boots that don’t hurt your feet. And once you find them, you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits that come with wearing cowboy boots.

Picture of my new Amos Ariat boots.

Is it Normal for New Cowboy Boots to Hurt?

It’s normal for new cowboy boots to hurt. Cowboy boots are designed to stretch; however, when you first get them, they are often stiff, which can cause pain in your feet and ankles. However, this pain should go away after you break in your boots.

If the pain persists, you might need a pair of cowboy boots or consider stretching your cowboy boots. You can do this yourself or bring them to your local boot store; they typically stretch boots you bought at their store for free.

How Can I Make My Cowboy Boots More Comfortable?

You can do a few things to make your cowboy boots more comfortable. First, try wearing them with thicker socks. This will help cushion your feet and prevent the boots from rubbing against your skin.

You can also try stretching your boots and ensure you’re gradually breaking in your cowboy boots. Don’t wear them for long periods at first, but instead progressively increase the amount of time you wear them as they start to feel more comfortable.

By following these tips, you should be able to make your pair of cowboy boots comfortable enough to wear all day:

·         Apply Heat (Hot Air)

Put on two or three pairs of socks, one on top of the other. Then, put on your leather boots and blow heat on your boots with a hairdryer. Direct the hot air towards the regions of your boots that need loosening work towards every section of your boots. Keep the hot air blowing at full power for at least 30 seconds.

Keep the boot on until it cools down. If you remove your boots before they are fully cool, they will shrink and return to their previous shape. But don’t forget to apply a leather conditioner or grease to your boots to preserve the material.

You can also use steam to stretch your cowboy boots; it’s simple and effective. It’s my preferred method.

·         Use Isopropyl Alcohol (Use only 70% concentrated alcohol)

Spray the concentrated alcohol on the parts of the boot that need to be stretched, leaving the surface very wet. Wait between 20 and 30 seconds for the leather to absorb the alcohol.

You will then have to put on the boots, remembering that this must be done just before they are dry but after the leather has absorbed all the alcohol. Wear the boots for as long as possible to stretch them sufficiently.

·         Give them Time (Break in Properly)

Make sure that you’re breaking in your cowboy boots gradually. Don’t wear them for long periods at first, and progressively increase the time you wear them.

The movement of feet will make room to adjust correctly according to the foot’s shape and make your cowboy boots more pliable. And, if it pinches at some points, you can wear some good wool or cotton socks to prevent blistering and pain.

After I initially stretched my Ariat ropers, they felt perfect; however, they were tight again after setting overnight. So, I wore them daily for about an hour or two, and within a week, they fit my feet perfectly ever since my cowboy boots have felt as comfortable as tennis shoes.

·         Cushioning Them with New Insole

This tip can save you time and activity because replacing an insole is quick and easy to make your cowboy boots more comfortable. There are many options, from soft to mild insole.

Choose whichever ones fit your needs. Insoles will help eliminate or reduce pain, calluses, swelling, and problems with fungi as they adapt the feet to the boots and have an antibacterial lining. Orthotic inserts for cowboy boots come in various brands and styles, and one of the best options is Walk Hero inserts.

Picture of pointed cowboy boots that hurt some peoples feet.

Can Cowboy Boots Ruin Your Feet? Are Cowboy Boots Bad for Ankles?

Cowboy boots won’t ruin your feet, nor are they bad for ankles, but if you have certain medical restrictions, consider them before using the cowboy boots. For example, people with plantar fasciitis should not wear some types of cowboy boots.

And if you have bumps or hammertoe, cowboy boots aren’t a good option because of the tight forefront shape. If you have, let’s say, low-arch or flat feet, you may be limited to specific styles of cowboy boots.

Like any other footwear with heels, Cowboy boots can cause problems if they don’t offer stability, cushioning, and comfort in the footsteps. On the other hand, the high heel cowboy boots are not a good choice for those suffering from plantar fasciitis.

Are Cowboy Boots Hard to Walk In?

That depends on the person. Some people find them very comfortable, while others find them stiff and hard to walk in. As with anything, it takes some time to get used to them.

If you’re having trouble walking in your cowboy boots, try using thicker socks, boot inserts, or lower heels. And make sure you break them in gradually. Cowboy boots are definitely not meant for everyone, but if you take the time to adjust to them, they can be a great addition to your wardrobe!

Cowboy boots are a stylish choice to wear casually. They won’t hurt your feet, nor will they make you feel uncomfortable if you choose the correct fit and style for your feet.

Why do my Cowboy Boots Hurt the Top of My Foot?

If your boots hurt across the top, it’s likely because you have a high instep and they’re too tight. My new Amos boots hurt the top of my feet. However, they’re not so tight that they won’t stretch after frequent wear. So, I’m confident they’ll stretch and get comfortable.

However, for some people with unnaturally high arches, you should look for cowboy boots designed for your type of foot, stretch them using one of the methods above, or bring them to a professional for stretching.

Scientifically speaking,, the reason for the pain is that there are several veins and capillaries on the top of your feet. If the cowboy boots are tight across the top of your foot, it puts pressure on veins, restricting blood circulation and creating pain.

This disorder causes several limitations in everyday life, such as difficulty walking or staying seated, loss of firmness of steps, postural problems, and pain in the spine and other body parts, among many other reflexes.

Another reason cowboy boots might hurt your feet is their “insole.” A boot’s insole should provide sufficient cushioning and arch support; when worn out, it often results in foot pain. Another aspect may be the friction due to slipping, which can cause a blister or a burning sensation on the top of your feet.     

Is It Bad to Wear Cowboy Boots All the Time?

I have a friend who wears cowboy boots all the time; people often tell him that it’s bad for his feet always to wear them. Are they correct? The simple answer is no; you can wear cowboy boots all the time without doing any damage to your feet.

However, it is essential to note that not all cowboy boots are created equal. If you’re wearing them all the time, it’s crucial to invest in a comfortable and well-made pair.

In general, though, the daily average reaches 6 hours of standing, performing repetitive work. Research shows that people have three different sites of constant pain: heel, instep, and foot arch. Besides the feet, 73% indicate pain in the ankles and 72% in the knees.

Keeping this research in mind, most people who wear any type of shoes all the time are at an increased risk of having foot discomfort. So, cowboy boots aren’t an exception.

I know this first hand; when I wear the same footwear all the time, my feet hurt, regardless of whether I’m wearing walking shoes or riding boots. So it’s best to switch out your footwear; not only will you be more comfortable, but it will also make you more stylish.    

Cowboy boots are definitely not meant for everyone, but if you take the time to adjust to them, they can be a great addition to your wardrobe.

Picture of a cowboy wearing jeans.

Cowboy attire

Cowboys are known for their wide-brimmed hats, jeans, and, of course, cowboy boots. This footwear was once the main attribute of men of the Wild West, and today, they have become part of modern fashion, including women.

Almost no one resists the good taste of wearing this type of footwear that is setting the trend. They are being seen more than ever everywhere. They have always been and will continue to be in fashion.

Presumably, cowboy boots appeared towards the end of the Civil War. Army boots were best suited for cavalry but were uncomfortable for horseback riding. Over time, shoemakers made their own modifications to the shoes, making the toe narrower so that it slid easily into the saddle stirrup.

Though some believe that all the attributes of cowboy boots are chosen arbitrarily and only create a unique, brutal image, this is not true. To make it comfortable to ride, the cowboys thought of the most minor details:

·         Leather shaft: Created to protect their legs from rubbing while riding and for protection while walking (twigs, thorns, rattlesnakes). The top should be loose enough that when you fall off a horse, your leg will slip out of your shoes.

·         Smooth leather sole: A slick sole lets you easily slide your foot in and out of a saddle stirrup.

·         Narrowed toe: It lets you insert a foot into the stirrup quickly. There was a time when the toe was very pointy, and as a result, the boots were uncomfortable not only when riding a horse but also when walking.

·         Spur ledge: Many cowboy boots use spurs to control the horse. Most western-style riding boots have a wide place on the back of their heels designed for spurs to set; this is the spur ledge.

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