Last Updated on November 14, 2023 by Martina McKeough
Doc Martens are super popular but they do have their downsides. They are known to hurt if you haven’t broken them in properly and also Doc Martens make your toes numb in certain circumstances which can be a problem.
Wearing shoes that cause numbness and tingling isn’t ideal of course so what can you do to prevent the problem?
Here are some of the reasons why your toes go numb when you are wearing Doc Martens boots and shoes and what you can do to make them wearable (provided you have bought the right size).
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Why You Might Get Numbness From Toes in Shoes
There are a whole host of reasons why you can get numb toes when you are wearing shoes and boots. I’m going to talk about the most common problems that cause the odd sensation and what you can do to resolve them.
Sometimes finding the reasons why you have an issue is a process of trial and error so go through my list and pick the most likely issues first to see if my solutions help.
The biggest problems I find with Doc Martens and foot numbness are:
- Wearing the wrong-sized footwear.
- The style is not right for your foot shape.
- You need to break them in.
- The stiff leather is constraining your feet.
- Your shoelaces are too tight.
- You don’t have enough cushioning.
- You need orthotics.
- You have an existing foot condition.
- You have been wearing them for too long.
Wearing The Wrong Size Doc Martens
Doc Martens shoes and boots are not made in half sizes. That means if you are between two sizes you are forced to size up or down.
If you have sized down you might find that you have bought Docs that are too small which can mean that your toes have no room at the front of your shoes.
Whilst shoes do tend to stretch with wear it may not be enough to solve your problem so you are faced with two choices. Return your shoes and buy the size up or use a shoe or boot stretcher to give you extra room.
A boot stretcher should be able to increase the sizing by at least half to one whole size.
The Style Doesn’t Suit Your Feet
Are Doc Martens good for your feet? Well, sometimes Doc Martens make your toes numb because they are not wide enough for your feet or the style isn’t right for your foot shape.
If you have bought a style with a narrow toe box the shape of the front of your shoes or boots can compress your toes together.
Doc Martens doesn’t make many boots in a wide style so your best solution is to either try a stretcher again or alternatively buy a different brand of shoes that can accommodate the width of your feet.
You Need To Break In Your Doc Martens
If Doc Martens make your toes numb and they are new shoes or books then it could be because you need to break them in.
Loads of Dr Martens customers think they can just buy a pair of Docs and put them on straight away and everything will be fine but that is far from the case.
Docs are mostly made from stiff leather that lacks flexibility when shoes are brand new. It will however begin to loosen up as you wear the footwear.
Usually, you should think about breaking in your boots by wearing them for short periods of time at first and then building up the time worn over 3-6 weeks. Wearing thick socks can help this process as it makes them stretch slightly and protects your feet.
Your Docs Leather is Stiff
Wearing your Doc Martens can be uncomfortable until the leather in your shoes and boots starts to soften.
Whilst breaking in your Docs is eventually going to help this problem you can start to speed up the process by softening it yourself.
In fact, Doc Martens is well aware that it is an issue which is why they have created their Wonder Balsam to help. Just apply this to your new Docs to soften the leather and it should make your Doc Martens comfortable more quickly.
Your Laces are Too Tight
If your Doc Martens hurt the top of your foot and toes then you might want to look at how you have laced your shoes or boots.
If you have tied your Doc Martens laces too tightly it can put pressure on your instep as well as your toes. Problems with lacing and rubbing because you have tightened them too much are easily solvable and probably one of the quickest fixes.
All you need to do is give yourself a little more slack in your shoes or boots and you should be able to wear them without any pain or tingling.
How Do You Fix Numb Toes In Shoes? Solve Cushioning Issues
One of the bigger reasons why Doc Martens caused me a problem was because they are not particularly cushioned and that played havoc with my feet and toes.
Dr Martens talks about soft and air-cushioned insoles that mold into the shape of your feet. What I actually found was that the cushioning was minimal so it felt like I was walking around on concrete all day.
Whilst some people can handle the hard insoles I couldn’t without making major adjustments to stop the pain and numbness.
I found the easiest way was to add an extra cushioned insole on top of the existing one to make it possible to wear their classic boots. Alternatively removing the insole and replacing it with something better could also work. It will depend on how much room you have in your shoes.
If you have less room you could just add the cushioning pads to the toe section of your Doc Martens shoe or boot to make them more comfortable.
I should point out that Doc Martens isn’t the only pair of shoes that have caused me this problem and I have often added or swapped around an insole in other brands’ shoes as well.
Wearing Doc Martens and Orthotics
Doc Martens can make your toes numb because of their lack of arch support in addition to the problem with cushioning.
This lack of arch support can cause foot misalignment which can also impact your toes as well causing the numb feeling.
The easiest way to solve this is by adding an orthotic to the shoe to give you the extra support that you need. There are plenty of orthotics that you can buy off the shelf that will fix the problem or alternatively get a pair custom-made if you want to use it in other footwear as well.
Existing Foot Conditions
Numbness in your toes when you wear your Doc Martens may sometimes be linked with existing foot problems that are being aggravated by your Docs.
Bunions, neuromas, and corns for example can rub or be pushed against the inside of a pair of Doc Martens leading to numbness in your toes.
Cushioning devices may be able to help to resolve this in some cases or buying Docs that are slightly bigger. You could also consult with a podiatrist to see if they have any suggestions to help the problem.
You Have Worn Your Doc Martens For Too Long
I’ve already talked about Doc Martens’s lack of cushioning and arch support which can cause some people numbness and foot problems but there are other issues as well:
- The length of time you wear your Docs For.
- Wearing them for long periods standing up.
- Standing up for significant periods of time in your Docs on hard surfaces.
Even after you have broken in your Docs it doesn’t mean that they are suitable for every type of activity. Sometimes we need shoes with more cushioning instead of Doc Martens to be comfortable.
As an example wearing Doc Martens hiking isn’t really a sensible option. Equally, you shouldn’t really think about wearing them all day if you are standing up, especially on hard surfaces.
If you want footwear that can keep you comfortable doing these sorts of activities think about buying shoes that are built for the job in hand. So hiking boots or walking shoes for long walks or cushioned trainers like Hoka’s for standing for long periods.
Ignoring this and wearing your Docs for everything and for prolonged periods of time is going to cause constant pressure on your feet which can reduce your circulation.
Think About Getting Medical Care
Doc Martens make your feet numb for a number of different reasons as you can see but if you follow my tips you should find that the problem stops.
If however the numbness continues for any significant period of time and you feel a loss of sensation in your feet it is well worth seeing your doctor or podiatrist for additional help.
Long-term numbness could be caused by nerve compression or other health issues so it makes sense to see an expert for their opinion.
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