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Expert Proven Tips On How To Stop Steel Toe Boots From Hurting Your Toes

Steel toe boots are hurting my toes. What should I do?

When you buy steel toe boots, one problem you might encounter is the steel toe boots hurting your feet.

The steel toe boots might hurt the top of the foot, the steel toe boots might be rubbing the big toe, pinky toe, or the steel toe shoe might be rubbing the top of your foot.

While wearing steel toe boots comes with its set of setbacks, the cool thing is that you can stop the steel toe shoes from killing your toes.

To help you out, here are tips on how to stop steel toe boots from hurting your feet:

Break in the work boots

Steel toe boots are killing my toes! You will often hear this from people that recently bought new steel toe boots, often with a small toe area.

If you are experiencing a lot of pain when wearing the steel toe boot, the chances are that you haven’t broken in the shoes.

Luckily, it’s easy to do it. Here is a detailed guide on breaking in and making the work boots comfortable.

When breaking in the shoes, exercise caution on how you go about it.

One of the most effective ways is wearing the leather boot around the house for at least 10 minutes.

When you use this method, it will take you a week before the shoes are comfortable.

This calls for you to buy the boots at least a few weeks before using them at the worksite.

Some people hurry and want to break in the footwear within the shortest time possible.

While some of the strategies work, in most cases, it results in damage to the boots.

One of the strategies you can use is submerging the shoes in water to soften them.

While this enlarges the footwear, it often damages, especially if the boots aren’t waterproofed.

Leather boots can only handle a certain amount of moisture, so they warp and lose their original shape when you expose them to a lot of moisture.

In some cases, the damage is too extensive that the safety boots become unwearable.

To avoid being in a hurry to break in the shoes, buy them a few weeks before you start using them.

This way, you will have enough time to break them in slowly and maintain their elegant look.

You also avoid having corns and other foot problems when you wear the shoes.

Stop wearing steel-toe work boots too tight.

How To Stop Steel Toe Boots From Hurting

Another reason steel toe boots hurt the top of the foot is wearing them too tight. To get rid of the discomfort and pain, you need to lace the safety boot snug.

By doing this, you pull your foot away from the steel toe cap and, at the same time, prevent the foot from sliding forward.

The best way of lacing the work boot is, to begin with lacing each end of the lace over one of the eyelets close to the toes.

Measure the laces so that one lace is five inches longer than the other. Keep the shorter end of the lace on the side of the toe that is more painful.

For example, if the big toe is painful, tie the shoe so that the inside lace is five inches shorter than the outside lace.

After doing this, take the longer lace and zigzag it through all the eyelets.

You should then take the shorter lace and cross it across the shoe.

When doing it, ensure that the lace reaches diagonally from the eyelet close to the toes, to the one closest to your ankle on the opposite side.

To finish the tying, lace under the eyelet. In some cases, you might find that you have both laces on the same side.

You should take the zigzag lace out of the final eyelet in such a scenario.

Add some padding

The purpose of adding some padding to your steel-toe shoes is to provide an extra layer of cushioning so that your feet’ skin doesn’t get into direct contact with the steel-toed work boot. As a result, you have no pain when working.

The amazing thing is that there are many materials you can use for padding. Some of the best ones are:


You can use foam or athletic tape. All you need to do is tie the tape on your feet’ hurting areas and then wear the work shoes.

Regardless of the tape you use, ensure you don’t tie your feet too tight to the extent you prevent adequate blood circulation.

Lamb’s wool

You can use wool from your old clothes or purchase it online or at local stores.

After getting the wool, place it in the hurting areas (usually the toes) and wear socks to prevent the wool from sliding around.

Wear the safety footwear once the wool is in place and walk around.

How does the wood feel around your feet? If the shoe isn’t comfortable, move the wool, so it’s in the hurting areas.


Many benefits come with gellows: affordable, thick enough (to prevent steel toe boots from hurting the feet), and reversible.

All you need to do is place them in the toe area or the other hurting areas, and you are good to go. You can make them yourself if you are a dab hand at DIY or buy ready-made pieces.

When making the purchase, be cautious of the size, as you can buy gellows that are too small to cover the affected areas.

Paper towels

If you have paper towels lying around the house, use them to prevent your feet from hurting.

Many people report that the towels are light; thus, they feel they won’t provide them with the protection they are looking for, but this isn’t the case.

Paper towels are thick enough to absorb any stress that the steel toe boots might be putting on your feet. Paper towels are also easy to mold and control.

If you have sweaty feet, they absorb the sweat, thus leaving your feet dry and comfortable. In addition to this, they are cheap or even get them for free from a public restroom.

After getting the paper towels, place them on the hurting areas.

In addition to the above materials, you can invest in adhesive felt tongue pads that you fit in the inside edge of your steel toe.


Socks add a layer of padding that prevents the steel toe work boots from contacting the feet.

Wear thick or double socks that provide you with extra comfort.

Wear contoured socks and avoid looser socks. This is because the looser socks increase chafing and blistering chances when wearing steel toe boots, which increases your discomfort.

You can buy the socks from your local store or online.

Wear fitting steel-toed boots

One of the primary reasons steel toe boots hurt the top of your foot is because you are wearing an ill-fitting boot.

If the boot is smaller than your feet, consider getting a new boot that fits you perfectly.

When buying the shoe, buy it in the afternoon when your feet have swollen to their maximum size.

Where should my toes be in steel toe boots?

You should have a space of about 1.5 cm between the toes and steel toe, but there is no specific place where your toes should be.

As long as you can freely move your toes and are comfortable, you are good to go.

Safety toe comfort comes with length, so when buying a steel toe, it should be long enough to accommodate the back-and-forth toe movements in the shoes.

You will have a comfortable fit when your foot’s widest point (the ball) is located at the widest part of the work boot.

At this point, the arch of your foot should fit with the shoe’s arch, giving you maximum support from the shoe.

Avoid ill-fitting steel-toed work boots as they will not only be uncomfortable, they also will lead to plenty of foot problems.

Make use of shoe inserts.

You put shoe inserts inside work boots to make them more comfortable. The beauty of work boot insoles is they are cheap, and you can find them in a wide range of stores.

When buying the shoe insert, ensure it’s made from high-quality materials. It also should be comfortable to wear.

You should note that you might have to remove the insole of the work boot, but if the shoe is large enough, you can wear them together.

There are many types of shoe inserts you can buy. The most common ones being: heel cups, heel lifts, metatarsal pads, and 2/3 length shoe inserts.

Read this guide to know more about shoe inserts and the right ones to go for.

Tips on how to prevent having steel toe work boots that hurt

If you have been having issues with every pair of work boots you buy, consider taking measures that will alleviate the pain. Some of the things you can do include:

Invest in steel toe work boots with a wider toe box.

When making the purchase, go with work shoes with asymmetrical or oblique designs.

These are safety shoes that have the true right and left shapes.

Asymmetrical steel toe work boots have a streamlined shape at the toes and feet, thus providing you with all the safety you are looking for without compromising your comfort.

how to stop steel toe boots from hurting

Oblique safety toe boots are identified by their elevated and wide part covering the big toe.

The rounded look is not only attractive, but it also gives your toes enough room to move around, thus eliminating the chances of suffering from hammertoes and cramping.

This ensures you are comfortable all day long.

The most popular brand that makes asymmetrical steel-toed work boots is Keen. Other brands such as Rocky, Timberland, and Calorina specialize in oblique safety boots.

Buy composite safety shoes.

A composite safety shoe features a reinforced composite toe made of plastic, Kevlar, carbon fiber, fiberglass, or other tough, nonmetallic material.

Just like a steel-toed work boot, this shoe also protects your feet from falling objects, electric shock, and other hazards found on the job site.

The shoes come in different designs and colors. The most common brand names to go for are: Sketchers, Converse, Dr. Marten’s, and Florsheim.

The main benefit of these shoes is that they are 30-50% lighter than steel-toed work boots, making them less tiring to wear.

The boots also provide better heat and cold protection. Since they don’t have steel, they don’t hurt your toes when working.

When buying safety shoes, go for those that meet the safety guidelines. Look out for those that meet the American society for testing and materials (ASTM) requirements for compression and impact.

The shoes should also meet the American national standards institute ratings for protection against rolling and falling objects.


These are tips you should consider when looking for ideas on stopping steel toe boots from hurting.

If you have to buy a new boot, buy a high-quality one that will last for a long time. You don’t want to keep on buying new boots, do you?

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