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Sore ankles from boots when hiking down hill


Im new to hiking and took my new boots out for a hike, they were great up hill but on the descent the back of my boots kept biting into the back of my legs above my ankles. Any lacing techniques to prevent this? The area is bruised still a week later. 

Do your socks come up above the tops of your boots?  They should and that would help.  When I wore high top boots, I finally tied them off tightly just above the ankle and left the upper portion relatively loose.

High tops make good sense if you are fire fighting or working construction, but if you are hiking, lower shoes are just as good or possibly even much better.  I can't cite the studies, but i understand that high tops don't provide better ankle support.  That has certainly been my experience.

No idea Alexia. If they are a heavier style of boot they may just need a break in period. If you post what brand and model they are someone might have an idea that will help.

I'm guessing the key phrase is 'new boots.'  to the extent lacing boots has an impact, you generally want the laces tighter from the middle up to the ankle on downhills, the goal being to avoid your toes bumping against the front of the boot.  that necessarily pulls the collar of the boot tighter against your leg.  if boot is reasonably stiff b/c it's new, the upper edge of the collar will tend to angle into the back of your leg on downhills.

you could go back to the place where you bought them and ask whether they have any thoughts.  some places have a boot forming tool, a large metal "S" basically, that can be used to work or stretch areas of a boot.  also, I would let the bruise heal before wearing them again.  my winter boots (scarpa invernos) are notorious for hammering one's shins. I spent the better part of my first season in those boots with bruises on my shins, and I made it worse by continuing to wear them with existing bruises.  

Alexia, I'm not trying to be funny but if you are hiking on trails I'd switch to trail runners. 

I hike exclusively in them (except for mountaineering trips of course) and I am a firm believer. 

Light weight and dexterity are great things to have an excess of.  As for the tiredness, I admit that my ankles get tired in the Spring when I start venturing out more but more trail running for fitness, weight training and just hiking more always cure this. 

It can be numerous things. As others have pointed out, socks, lacing style, and break in of the boots can all play a major role. If its purely a break in thing, if they are leather its an easy fix with some conditioner of some fashion massaged in a few times.

Another thing that can help a great deal is the use of trekking poles.

I was a kinesiologist and a sports nutritionist before I retired.  I believe you may be dealing with typical women ankles, which means you need more mobility in the cut of your boot.

have you tried medium cut boots, like Oboz Sawtooth?  

I used Zamberlan Vioz boots, I loved them for the support but they did not allow for much mobility or range of motion.  I discovered Oboz and bam: problem solved. 

There is a notch on the back, and the boot sits lower on the ankle/calf area, allowing my ankle full range of motion downhill, sideways, on rocks.  

Basically, women's ankles can be very much like the pelvis:  shallow and with a slightly higher % of soft (cartilage) tissue, as opposed to men's straight and deeper joints.  

If your boots, even touted as "women's boots" are too high in the back, You will keep on fighting them with every step.  

This does not apply to all women, btw, and it's usually an issue I see with women who've had children or who are past middle age, so I may be completely wrong since I haven't seen your feet, But Your issue seems similar to mine before I switched boots.  

Lilia, I think you're describing the problem with my boots. I was about to post a new topic on it. These boots cut into the back of my calves even when I'm just standing straight up, whether the boots are laced or not. I have to bend my knees at a 45 degree angle (ski pose!) before they stop cutting, which is, um, not feasible for walking.

Is there anything I can do to break these boots in? Or am I just stuck with ill fitting boots? I can't really afford to buy new ones (these were gifted) right now.

I'm 5'3" so I'm guessing my calves are also shorter than average.

If you had chaffing, then I'd say get socks that extend beyond the boot cuff.  But you ladies are describing a biting-like action.  Getting thicker socks will only make the fit tighter. 

I know it hits hard in the wallet when you are faced with this sort of dilemma.  Gifted boots sometimes are a wind fall, but often the fit is off, because you were not present to test ride the foot ware.  As for the OP's new boots, you may be able to exchange them - inquire the store.  Whatever you gals do, don't continue exposing your heel tendon to this abuse, it can cause an injury. 

I am afraid you all may have the wrong boots!  Get something with a lower cuff, and less heel cant.   Wear it around the store for as long as possible.  If there are stairs do some laps to push the fit.  Wear the socks you hike in.

Fitting 101 hint:
A lot of folks over tighten the laces.  When a boot fits me, the laces over the toe box  up to the high ankle are just barely tensioned.  I can slip in and out of that lace up when the uppers are unlaced.  I tie it off permanently with a square knot. The laces above the high ankle are laced tighter with nominal effort.  Over tightening laces will make your feet ache for lack of fresh blood.  Boots fitted too narrow in the toe box will ache similar to tight laces.   Boots too tight in the ankle will squirt the foot forward, toe jamming the front of the toe box.  I have never purchased boots that were too wide or large, but have erred too small or narrow more than a couple of times.  People I know have similar tendencies, to err to the small side.


There are definitely lots of boot lacing techniques.  there are websites that show many variations.  A common one for downhill is an overhand knot at the ankle, to keep your foot from sliding forward and injuring your toes.  For breaking in boots, supposing they fit well to begin with, just takes time.  Try wearing them a half hour or hour every day during your normal routine.  

October 24, 2020
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