Doc Martens boots and shoes are an iconic brand that has a multi-generational appeal. I wore Doc Martens when I was younger and now my niece is following in my footsteps. However, are Doc Martens good for your feet or do people wear them more because of their style rather than for comfort and foot health?
Here’s what you need to think about when you are thinking about buying a pair of Doc Martens to make sure that you get the best possible footwear that can provide support and not cause you any foot pain.
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Are Doc Martens Bad For Your Feet?
So let’s address the first issue about Doc Martens which is do they promote good foot health?
Well, the American Podiatric Medical Association is a leader in giving its seal of approval to brands and styles that meet the required foot health standards. Currently, Doc Martens do not have any footwear that meets their strict criteria.
Does this mean that Doc Martens are bad for your feet? Well no it just means that leading podiatrists in the United States haven’t given them their seal of approval but that is the case for many shoe brands.
The fact is that only a small number of footwear companies make shoes that meet the required standards such as:
You are not necessarily going to ruin your feet by wearing a pair of Doc Martens boots or shoes but equally, it is unlikely you are going to improve your foot health by wearing them either.
Disadvantages of Dr Martens
Here are some of the disadvantages of wearing Doc Martens boots and shoes that are known to be common problems with the brand.
The Long Break in Period
This first issue is an experience that both my niece and myself have encountered when buying a new pair of docs. The break-in period can take a significant amount of time (up to six weeks) and in that time the footwear can hurt.
I found that my Doc Martens shoes felt really stiff and inflexible and that made my feet feel like they were walking on hard concrete rather than on an air-cushioned sole.
My niece had a different problem linked to the stiff leather. As it takes some time for the leather to mold to your foot shape she ended up with some painful blisters before the break-in period finished.
Doc Martens are known for being famously stiff and inflexible when you first wear them but over time that lessens and then they improve.
My niece has more tolerance for breaking in shoes than I do. Now I’m older I won’t tolerate a pair of shoes that cause me discomfort right from the start. The question is are you willing to put in the work to make your feet comfortable or would you want a different pair of shoes
Their Heaviness and Inflexibility
As well as Doc Martens having stiff leather their thick soles are also a problem for some people. Whilst they might look great and not wear easily they don’t exactly move well with your feet as I found, especially when they are brand new.
Their boots and shoes are also really quite heavy in comparison to many brands. Whilst many people might feel that is part of their charm others might feel that this is a problem when you want to wear them every day.
Wearing heavy inflexible shoes and boots means you are going to use much more energy when you are walking and potentially this can impact your posture and tire your leg muscles throughout the day.
Lack of Arch Support
When I wear shoes now I need really good arch support. Arch support helps to support my feet as well as stop my plantar fasciitis and tendonitis from flaring up.
I have flat feet which need a little extra help for my feet to be comfortable. The problem is that Doc Martens may have air-padded soles and superior shock absorption but they aren’t good when it comes to arch support.
Leather shoes and boots are by their very nature breathable but Doc Martens shoes and boots use very thick leather. This means that they won’t necessarily have the same level of breathability as other more lightweight designs may have.
This is a problem if you suffer from sweaty feet particularly in the summer as the moisture will find it difficult to escape.
Too much moisture in your footwear can lead to blisters and shoe bites as well as fungal infections such as athlete’s foot.
The Traction Could Be Better
I personally didn’t mind the AirWair soles on my Doc Martens. I found that they didn’t really slip too much in the rain and gave me ok traction when I was walking about in them.
However, if you are planning to walk in more slippery terrain or uneven wet surfaces you may need to buy a pair of shoes or boots that has better traction for your needs.
Another annoyance with Doc Martens is that the brand doesn’t offer half sizes.
Half sizes mean that you are more likely to get a pair of shoes or boots that fits properly and gives you the right amount of room for your feet.
Brands that don’t offer half sizes suggest sizing up or down instead but that can leave you with boots and shoes that are either too tight or too big.
Advantages of Dr Martens Shoes
Are Doc Martens good for your feet? Well I’ve talked about some of the reasons why they aren’t the perfect shoes when it comes to foot health however they are not all bad by any means.
Doc Martens have some great positive attributes as well which you need to take into account if you are looking to buy any of their shoe styles.
They Are Supportive
The way that Doc Martens are constructed makes them relatively supportive for your feet. The brand doesn’t make flimsy footwear so when you are putting on a pair of their boots and shoes you know that your foot is going to be held properly in place as you walk.
Shock Absorbing Insole
Most Doc Martens come with insoles that help with shock absorption. This means that when you are walking or standing for significant periods the footwear is putting less pressure on your joints
Their Boots and Shoes are Durable
One thing that nobody can deny about their leather boots and shoes it that they are incredibly durable. My Doc Martens seemed to last forever and I work them for years.
The thick leather and quality of the materials and stitching mean that this is footwear that is built to last. If you use the Dr Marten Wonder Balsam to take care of them they continue to look good as well.
They have Good Ankle Support
If you are buying Doc Martens boots then you are getting great ankle support as well.
This is great if you have weak ankles as when they are laced up you are going to find it hard to twist or move the area which means less chance of an injury or sprain.
They Have a Wide Toe Box
Doc Martens’s shoes and boots are the opposite of narrow pointy footwear. They have a very generous roomy toe box area which gives your feet loads of room to spread out.
This wide toe area means that your feet are not forced into unnatural positions and that helps with preventing foot deformities such as hammer toes and bunions.
The Footwear is Water Resistant
I happily wore my Doc Martens in the UK which is known for being wet and rainy, especially in wintertime. I never had a problem with water coming into my shoes.
The fact is that Doc Martens offers really good water resistance and that means your feet are generally well protected from the elements.
Obviously, I didn’t stand in water or wear them in torrential downpours for long periods of time. If that is what you want then you are going to need a waterproof shoe or boot but they are great for average weather conditions.
Are Doc Martens Good As An Everyday Shoe?
Knowing those advantages and disadvantages what does that mean for using Doc Martens as an everyday shoe or boot? Are Doc Martens comfortable enough and good for your feet or should you wear something else?
Well, the reality is that if you want footwear that is really good for your feet then Doc Martens wouldn’t be my number one choice especially if you have flat feet and need extra arch support. At the very least you would need an orthotic insole to give you the arch support and comfort you need.
The fact is there are plenty of better shoes and boots on the market that have been made with foot health in mind however many of them simply don’t have the style factor that Docs do. Plus just because they aren’t rated as being specifically for foot health doesn’t mean they are all bad. There are plenty of worse shoes you could buy.
My view is that if you have broken in your Doc Martens and found that they are comfy and don’t give you any foot pain or discomfort they are fine for everyday use.
Would I use them for long walks? Well no I believe that there are better sneakers and shoes for that but for wearing for short walks and around the neighborhood they are fine. Just make a mental note to change them when you need to wear them for longer.
Doc Martens Arch Support Issues
Many people have suggested that Doc Martens have good arch support but they are confusing the air-cushioned sole with an arch insert.
If you look at the video below you can see what a pair of Doc Marten boots looks like when they are cut open and you can see that there is plenty of foam cushioning but no raised arch support inside the boots to support your foot and align it in a particular position.
Arch support is something that you are going to need if you suffer from pronation or flat feet to make sure your feet are placed in the correct position when you walk.
If you need arch support then you will probably need to buy an orthotic insole and place it inside your Doc Martens (providing there is enough room) to align your foot. Read my article on using these devices to find out if you need bigger shoes for insoles to fit properly.
To see what a good orthotic arch support insole looks like then take a look at these Powerstep Pinnacle Maxx Insoles and you can see the difference from the Doc Martens air-cushioned soles. When you wear these you will get good arch support and help to keep your feet in a stable position when walking.
How to Remove Doc Martens Insoles
If you do want to add insoles or orthotics to make your Doc Martens comfortable for you then it is worth noting that some of the soles are glued down.
Whilst some Doc Martens have removable insoles others are glued on the inside which means that it is difficult to remove them without potentially damaging the shoe or boot.
I typically have arch support insoles that are either part of the shoe already or that slip in on top of the existing insole. If that doesn’t suit you and you want to take the original insoles out then you will need to buy Docs with removable insoles.
Are Doc Martens Good For Flat Feet?
As flat feet need good arch support you can probably guess from my earlier comments that Doc Martens won’t be great for the condition unless you add an orthotic into the shoe or boot.
This shouldn’t be a huge problem for most people as people who need orthotics are used to buying shoes that don’t have the exact features they need. Wearing orthotic insoles isn’t that unusual and as you don’t even need to buy custom orthotics now and can get them off the shelf they can be easily popped inside your shoes without too much of a problem.
The only issue is if your orthotics are too large or bulky so bring them along when trying on any Doc Martens before you make a purchase.
Are Doc Martens Good for Plantar Fasciitis?
When it comes to plantar fasciitis then you will need shoes that are not going to make your problem worse. So you will need footwear that:
- Supports your arch
- Has good cushioning
- That has a stable heel section
- That is comfortable and padded
- That has a flexible outsole
As you can probably guess from what I have written already Doc Martens’s styles don’t really fit the brief at all. They don’t have really good arch support or cushioning and the outsole is not particularly flexible at all.
Having suffered from plantar fasciitis myself I tend to stick with orthopedic shoes to stop the problem and in particular I usually end up wearing Vionic shoes and boots.
Whilst they obviously are not going to look exactly the same the Vionic Charm Lani boot is similar in style but is from a brand that specializes in helping people who need excellent arch support and help for plantar fasciitis.
Are Doc Martens Good for Bunions?
Are Doc Martens good for your feet if you have bunions?
Well, the answer in this case is it depends. Docs tend to have a reasonably wide toe box in comparison to some shoes and boots which means they can probably accommodate a bunion that is still relatively small without too much issue.
My mother however had horrendous bunions at one point and before her surgery there was absolutely no way that she would have been able to fit her feet in ordinary shoes or boots.
It isn’t just that large bunions need shoes that can fit wide feet the leather also needs to be soft otherwise the bony part of the bunion starts to rub against your footwear causing pain.
Whithin Women’s Minimalist Barefoot Shoes are an example of a shoe that would have probably worked for her however they don’t have the same fashionable style as Docs do.
Are Doc Martens good for your feet? Well as you can see my answer is not straightforward.
Whilst Docs are not an orthopedic shoe or boot designed for foot health they are an ok everyday shoe provided you don’t have any major foot problems and they feel comfortable. They are not designed as long-distance walking shoes but they are ok for wearing around the neighborhood.
Add inserts or orthotics if you need to to help with stability, comfort, and arch support, and make sure you take the time to break them in properly before wearing them for long periods.
Learn More About Doc Martens
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