Skip to Content
The Pitch is Ours is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read more

Why Do Soccer Cleats Cause Blisters?

Why Do Soccer Cleats Cause Blisters?

Since the evolution into what is known as modern soccer, cleats have been an important piece of equipment. However, before modern soccer officially began in the late 1800s, footwear was worn to protect the feet from injuries as the sport gained popularity.

Consequently, its necessity and continued importance have seen soccer footwear evolve over the years. Although this has helped reduce possible injuries to the feet from ball contact, some players are often plagued with discomfort.

Such discomfort could be a result of injuries like blisters. Blisters generally occur when skin is exposed to heat and/or friction. More often than not, it is a painful swelling filled with trapped fluid between layers of the skin.

The article takes an in-depth look at several possible reasons why soccer cleats cause blisters.

Why do soccer cleats cause blisters?

If you have played soccer for at least 3 to 5 years, there are chances you have experienced these painful blisters. Even professional soccer players playing at the biggest competitions can still experience the discomfort of blisters.

Although cleat manufacturers are continuously researching and incorporating modern technology into the designs, different foot shapes and sizes can make a cleat that’s perfectly comfortable for one player to be entirely discomforting to another.

For instance, soccer fans and onlookers were shocked to see Philippe Coutinho’s cut cleat as the camera zoomed in on his legs. He had a rectangular hole on the heel of his right leg. This was done to reduce discomfort on the cleat.

With time, this no longer became an isolated example. Some other professional soccer players like Mats Hummels and Francesco Vicari have also made cuts on their boots.

As a soccer player, blisters and their associated pains can affect your overall performance. It is not normal, and you should seek out solutions to reduce and avoid it.

One of the ways of finding solutions is to understand the cause of the problem. Here are the common reasons why soccer cleats can cause blisters.

Are they new cleats?

There’s always that excitement when it comes to playing with new cleats. Top professional soccer players may not care much because their sponsors regularly provide them with new cleats.

Before using new cleats, you have to break in the shoes. It is one of the recommended ways to avoid blisters early on.

To break in your new cleats, you have to wear them before the actual game. After that, you can use them in training sessions to get your feet accustomed to the cleats.

man wearing new soccer cleats on grass

It’s especially important for leather cleats as it helps mold the cleats better to the size and shape of your feet. Depending on the material, you may get some stretch in the upper part of the cleats.

You can also immerse them in warm water or wear them and take a warm shower. It’s another good way to loosen the material.

Get them to dry slowly on your feet to get a better mold. Another way is to stuff the insides with old newspapers to soak up the moisture while you let it dry out naturally away from sunlight.

A good way to prevent blisters is to hold on to your old cleats. Then, as your feet begin to mold into the new cleat, you can alternate it with the old one until the break-in process is complete.

Old or low-quality soccer cleats

Let’s assume you drew out a reasonable budget and got yourself some high-quality cleats. Like most things, soccer cleats have a lifespan after taking serious beatings from all that gameplays.

Over time, the material (whether leather or synthetic) begins to wear out. This can cause unnecessary friction between your sock feet and the insides of the cleat.

Since blisters can occur from excessive friction, soon, you begin to have pains on your feet. Most people tend to use the appearance of the cleats to tell if it is old or not.

soccer players wearing old soccer cleats

While this is one way to know, it can sometimes be misleading, especially if you take good care of the cleat. The best way to know it’s time to change cleats is when they suddenly become uncomfortable during gameplays.

Have you always used this particular cleat but started feeling discomfort recently? If your answer is in the affirmative, it’s probably time to have the cleats replaced (assuming all other factors remain constant).

Just like with old quality cleats, you get the same experience with low-quality soccer cleats. You may have saved up some money from buying low-quality cleats, but at what expense?

Minus the occasional wear and tear of the low-quality cleat material, you may start to get some irritation on the skin. Add that to the heat build-up and friction in the cleat, and you have got yourself the perfect recipe for blisters.

Also, try to invest in more than one soccer cleat. Relying on a single cleat can cause it to age quicker than it was designed to.

DREAM PAIRS Mens Superflight-1 Firm Ground Soccer Cleats Soccer Shoes, Royal/Orange - 13 (Cleats)
  • Synthetic Leather upper offers lightweight,durable and comfortabl fit with a soft touch on the ball.
  • Firm ground cleats is designed for natural grass surfaces.They’ll give you extra traction on firm,...
  • TPU firm ground outsole offers plenty of traction and a comfortable fit under the foot.

Last update on 2023-11-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Low-quality soccer socks

Socks are part of the compulsory piece of equipment in soccer. Since you cannot play without them, it’s best to invest in high-quality socks.

It may seem logical to blame your soccer cleats for blister formation and discomfort, but what if there’s another culprit?

While socks primarily help hold shin guards in place, they also help reduce slippage in cleats. This is because as you run around the pitch, like other parts of your body, your feet begin to sweat.

soccer players wearing white and black soccer socks with cleats in a match

Part of the job of good-quality socks is to help absorb the moisture while also preventing slippage. Depending on the amount of sweat, even high-quality socks sometimes cannot handle the moisture; hence, Trusox/grip socks became a thing.

Now, imagine how effective low-quality socks are in such a situation. With the accumulated heat and moisture within the cleat, low-quality socks immediately cause slippage.

Slippage results in friction. This means your heels and toes are rubbing against the inside of the cleats as you run around the pitch. Low-quality socks become counterproductive in such a situation.

Not only will you struggle with all that movement, but it’ll also drastically affect your playing performance. To avoid blisters, you can start by buying new quality socks or grip socks to see if there’s any noticeable difference in comfort.

Amazon Essentials Men's Performance Cotton Cushioned Athletic Ankle Socks, 6 Pairs, White, 6-12
  • COMFORT AND FIT: These ankle socks fit just above the ankle, have a smooth toe construction that...
  • MATERIAL: Amazon Essentials socks are made from high-quality and durable materials. These socks are...
  • STYLE: Available in multiple colors.

Last update on 2023-11-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Size and shape of the cleats

These are some of the top factors to consider when buying new soccer cleats. However, it’s surprising to note that not everyone gets it right.

When it comes to soccer cleats, under and oversized cleats are extremes you do not want to gamble with. Both extremes can cause blister formation for obvious reasons.

An undersized cleat can cramp up your toes, heels, and entire feet. This can quickly result in heat build-up. With all of that pressure on the feet as you move around, it’s only a matter of time before your feet are decorated with painful blisters.

On the other hand, oversized cleats allow for foot slippage and movement. In addition, the heels and toes hitting the insides of the cleats cause friction.

This leaves us with the recommended perfect fit size. What is a perfect fit size? This is the size that gives you the best comfort when playing soccer. It is more of an individualistic recommendation than a general size.

Soccer cleat manufacturers design cleat sizes for specific feet to meet a general audience. So finding your cleat size should be easy if the shape of your feet falls within what’s termed normal for that size.

a team with different types of soccer cleats

This is where some soccer players get it wrong and outright blame the cleats for causing blisters. To help prevent this, a perfect fit size should allow for half a thumb or a full thumb’s width space between the toes and the tip of the cleats.

Another thing to consider when choosing a perfect fit cleat is the type of material. For example, a material like leather may get some stretch in the upper part of the cleat.

While this feature is good for accommodating feet with a unique shape, it can cause extra slippage when a wrong cleat size is chosen.

What is the weather condition of the pitch?

Although often overlooked, another major cause of blisters on the feet is the prevailing weather condition of the soccer pitch. Since soccer games are played almost all year round, there’s the tendency of playing in both extreme weather conditions.

Playing soccer in cold weather would naturally eliminate the heat and moisture build-up in the cleat. However, players would wear thicker socks or double the socks to keep their feet warm.

Also, the cleat material (especially those made from leather) is susceptible to shrinking in cold weather. This makes the cleats feel tighter, thereby increasing the pressure points. This could also cause blisters over time.

All the necessary factors for blister formation are present in hot weather conditions. In addition, perspiration is at its highest during this condition. This results in extra heat, sweat, and resulting friction.

soccer teams playing soccer at noon

The accumulating moisture in the cleat creates an environment for blisters to occur. A good way to minimize or eliminate blisters is to wear breathable grip socks.

Yufree Men's Soccer Socks Anti Slip Grip Pads for Football Basketball, 4 Pair (White)
  • [Anti Slip Silicone] The bottom of this grip socks is equipped with anti-skid silica gel. The stripe...
  • [Thicken the Bottom] In order to create a more excellent mens athletic socks, the bottom of the...
  • [Golden Ratio of Fabric] Prohibit proportion, smooth fabric, fine and soft, more wear-resistant and...

Last update on 2023-11-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

While the breathable material allows for good airflow, the grip feature prevents slippage. Both of these actions reduce blister formation.

In addition, if your feet produce lots of sweat, you can have an extra pair of socks to change at half-time or during any long break period during the game.

Design and integrity of the cleat studs

Blisters can be formed on the feet as a result of stud pressure. At first, this might not make a lot of sense but understanding the design and functionality of studs makes things clearer.

Studs are included in cleats to help increase the cleat’s grip on the field surface. They come in different sizes and number arrangements, depending on the surface of the pitch.

The three main types are the Firm Ground (FG), Soft Ground (SG), and Hard Ground (HG) cleats. Others are turf shoes, indoor shoes, and sandals. As you move around the pitch, your feet exert your body pressure directly on the studs.

soccer cleats with old studs

Pain and blisters from stud pressure are usually caused by using the wrong cleat on the wrong field surface. Think of it this way, using a cleat with longer studs to dig into a soft ground pitch on a firm ground pitch would mean a greater percentage of the studs do not penetrate the ground.

This means your body’s weight is significantly held by the individual stud spots underneath the cleat. This becomes a breeding ground for blister formation.

Studs are also mostly made from plastic materials. Over time, with all the running and stampede it receives, the integrity diminishes.

This can cause a slight, unnoticeable imbalance on your feet, especially in the heel area. As more friction is caused, the stud pressure area where the feet stand can develop blisters.


There are several reasons or a combination of why soccer cleats may cause blisters. The first step to finding any meaningful solution is to examine the root cause of the problem. Then, be realistic with yourself and try to self-diagnose potential causes of discomfort.

There is no one way to solve this problem. No matter how fond you are of a particular cleat, you would have to replace it over time.

Take note of changes that occur before you begin to notice the discomfort. For example, experiencing blisters with new cleats can result from an improper break-in or wrong size.

For much older cleats, a change in socks, weather conditions, or age could be possible reasons for the sudden discomfort and blisters.