Doc Martens Hurt Back of Ankles: The Causes and Solutions

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I know it feels so annoying and painful when your Doc Martens hurt the back of your ankles. This happens with newly purchased boots as well as old pairs of boots. 

Doc Martens boots are truly comfortable, sturdy, and long-lasting. However, If you wear your Docs without breaking in, you may feel comfort is a lie. Trust me, Doc Martens are great in comfort when they properly break in.

Nevertheless, many people come up with several problems like- why do doc martens hurt the back of ankles? How to get rid of it? And so on.

Well, worry not, I’m here to help you out if you face the same problem with your Docs. So, without any further delay, let’s dive in.

Why Do Doc Martens Hurt Back of Ankles?

Wearing the wrong shoe size is the primary reason for hurting the back of the ankles. Besides, people tend to wear them without breaking them in which is another reason behind it. 

Doc martens hurt the back of your ankle because the boots rub against your heels and ankles, causing friction between your boots’ lining and the skin of your ankles and Achilles.

When we walk, this friction occurs and turns worse depending on the sock’s material and thickness, shoe size, shoe fitting, and so on.  

How Do I Stop Doc Martens From Hurting The Back of My Ankles?

There are several ways that you can use to stop your Docs from hurting the back of your ankles. Here you go:

1. Break In Your Docs First (Especially for Newly Purchased Boots)

If you have a new pair of Docs, make sure you break them in first. Wearing Docs without breaking them in is the most common reason behind hurting your ankle.

So, my suggestion would be don’t go for a long distance before breaking in your boots. Also, here’s the guide that will show you how you can break in your Doc Martens overnight. 

Check out the article to know in detail and break in your boots first. Maybe your boot won’t hurt you again if it breaks in properly. 

2. Socks Can Do the Trick

When your Docs hurt the back of your ankles, the first thing that would overcome it is your socks. 

Wear the thickest pair of socks you have to get rid of the blisters. It reduces the friction between your skin and boots while walking. The thicker the fabrics the better it would be.

Also, padded socks are also helpful in this case since they provide cushioning and protection from rubbing the skin of your heel and ankle.

The material of your socks also plays an important role here. For example- merino wools are great for removing moisture away. On the other hand, cotton socks can catch moisture between the socks and your skin which may result in blisters and hurt your ankle. 

Sometimes wearing the wrong length of socks is responsible for the pain and blisters. If you don’t know what’s the perfect length for your socks, let me enlighten you shortly according to the shoe anatomy. 

  • Quarter: Covers the sides and back of the shoes’ upper part
  • The Topline: Covers the top edge of the sides and back of the quarter. People also call it the collar. 

When it comes to preventing the back of your ankles from friction, you need to wear socks that are at least as long as the topline or collar of your shoe.

3. Use Moleskin/Kinesiology Tape/Heel Protecting Inserts

Moleskin, kinesiology tape, or heel-protecting inserts come in handy when your Docs hurt your feet. You can find all of these at your nearby drugstore. If you don’t know what they do, here you go:

This is an adhesive tape that you can apply to your muscles. The tape moves with muscles to allow you a full range of motion. If you apply it to the back of your ankle it’ll work on your Achilles and calf. 

  • Heel inserts

A heel insert is a gel or silicone pad that is inserted in the back of the shoe and provides cushioning between your heel and the shoe. 

However, while you’re buying heel inserts make sure they fit properly otherwise they may move around and cause friction. Moreover, it’s wise to use other options since this isn’t as secure as the other options. 

  • Moleskin

Moleskin is the most useful thing that you can buy to prevent hurting the back of your ankles. This is a durable, adhesive cotton fabric and definitely the most efficient product that comes with an integrated feature of kinesiology tape and heel inserts.

You can find this at your nearby drugstore or in online marketplaces. This can prevent blisters and the adhesive is so strong that it can stay on your feet throughout the day.

  • Blister Plasters

Using blister plasters on your feet can help you to get rid of getting blisters. They’re well-designed to protect your feet and stop your feet from rubbing again. There are some variants that can prevent infection and other problems as well. 

These 4 products that I’ve talked about are temporary solutions. The problem arises when your feet sweat so much and you use them on a hot day. These products may not work effectively in moisture.

Most importantly, if you fail to manage any of these products, use duct tape. They also come in handy to prevent your feet from hurting.

4. Use Anti-Blister Balm

You’ll find anti-blister balms that work not only for your heel but also for other body parts on your body. 

Use the anti-blister balm on your heels like the way you use stick deodorant or roll-on. The balm provides lubrication and acts as a wall to reduce friction.

However, you can’t use the product with other products that I’ve suggested. For example, if you apply the balm and use products that have adhesive,  it won’t stick to your skin.

Most importantly, if you want to use these balms, you need to reapply them again and again throughout the day for which you may need to rob the bank.   

5. Get Insoles

Insoles have the perk to reduce the surface area that comes in contact with the back of your heel. Besides, it slightly adds a lift to your feet. 

If you use custom insoles in your boots, they’ll provide a tighter fit and decrease the movement between your skin and shoe. As a result, there’s little chance of getting friction and blisters.

Moreover, you can find custom insoles for your feet which can help you a lot to get rid of hurting the back of your ankles.

6. Apply The Soap Trick

I’ve already mentioned 5 different ways to get rid of hurting the back of your ankles. Now, I’m going to talk about a trick that is not as effective as the others. Besides, this is an infamous trick.

You can apply soap inside of your boots, rub the soap to the places that come in contact with your feet, create friction and hurt you. 

This method is supposed to soften the area and fix the problem. However, it may ruin your stylish Docs. So, be careful when you’re going to use this trick. Also, I’d suggest you apply this one when you’re not able to perform other methods.

7. Apply Heat

Applying heat is an effective and efficient way to soften the back of your Docs. This method is pretty simple, all you need is- your boots, a pair of socks, and a hair dryer.

First, put on your socks and boots. After that, use your hair dryer to apply medium heat to the back of your boots until they become slightly pliable. 

When you move your feet and walk around, the warm leather will mold to your feet according to the shape of your heel. Also, this procedure ensures a better fit. 

However, you need to be careful while applying heat. Make sure you’re not applying the heat too closely, it may damage your boots. Besides, don’t apply heat for too long.

This method is applicable to leather, suede, and other cloth materials. So, definitely, it’s going to work with your Doc Martens. All you need to do is stay careful otherwise your boots may get ruined.    

8. Use Deodorants or Baby Powder on Your Feet

If your feet sweat too much, the moisture can increase the chances of your Docs rubbing against your heels. More moisture from your feet can cause more friction. As a result, your feet can get hurt even more and the situation may turn worse. 

So, I’d suggest you use products like deodorants (mostly antiperspirants) or baby powder that can absorb and reduce moisture. Consequently, it’ll help your feet from getting blisters. 

However, you may need to apply them multiple times if you wear your boots throughout the day. Moreover, be careful about overusing these products as they may create a messy situation.

9. Pay a Visit to The Cobbler

The first method that I told you about is breaking in your boots first because this is the ultimate solution. If you don’t want to use any of these methods, you need to go to the cobbler who knows his job. 

A cobbler can help you to stretch your shoes and your boots won’t hurt the back of your ankle. This solution can also help you in the long run. 

How Do You Soften the Back of Doc Martens?

When it comes to softening the back of Doc Martens, the first thing you need to do is buy the perfect size of boots for your feet.

The wrong size or fitting can make the overall process tougher and tiresome. So, pick the right size first (length and width both), try them out, and then buy your boots.

If your boots fit well on your feet, you won’t face extra troubles. Anyway, when it comes to softening the leather of your Docs several methods can be used.

The most efficient one would be applying Doc Martens Wonder Balsam on your Docs. It’s produced and recommended by Doc Martens itself. Also, it works for softening, moisturizing, and conditioning your leather boots.

There are other methods like applying heat, shoe stretcher, leather oils, conditioners, shoe stretching spray, etc. also useful. Here you’ll find a detailed post about breaking in your Docs and softening the leather. Don’t forget to check it out.   


  1. Do Doc Martens Hurt to Walk?

Yes, Doc Martens hurt to walk if they’re not broken in. Also, picking the wrong size can hurt your feet as well. So, pick the right size first, and then break in your boots before you wear them for a long walk. 

  1. Are Doc Martens Comfortable?

Yes, Doc Martens are insanely comfortable after they break in. You may find your Doc stiff and hard initially but once they break in you feel the comfort. 

  1. Can Vaseline Stop Shoe Rubbing?

Yes, vaseline can stop shoe rubbing in the short term but you need to reapply it again and again if you wear your boots throughout the day. Also, if your feet sweat too much you should think twice before applying vaseline.


Throughout this post, I tried to explain to you why Doc Martens hurt the back of your ankle. Not only that, you’ll find 9 different methods here that can prevent your boots from hurting the back of your ankle.

So, I hope you’ll follow the procedures carefully and your Docs won’t hurt again. But there are a couple of things that play the most important role here. Pick the right size of boots for your feet and break in them properly before you wear them for a long distance and regular usage.

Richard Nelson

Richard is the Head of Content here at Bootpedia. From an early age, leather boots have been a passion for him. So, he thought why not share his knowledge with the rest of the world? 

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