Achilles tendon rubs

I have new La Mundial boots that I am in the process of breaking in. It’s a long saga, but these particular boots have had to be remade four times (big sigh) . This last attempt by La Mundial to get them right has everything okay except that the calf is a bit tight (not throbbing tight, just tight). I wore the boots a few times, then took them to my cobbler to have the calves stretched. This seemed to help but then, based on a recommendation from my trainer, I sprayed alcohol on the inside of the boots before wearing them for a lesson. All was good, but when I put them on next (at a show) they were back to being tight.

I decided to suck it up and just wear them as long as possible each day at the show and this seemed fine until the fourth day when I started to get a rub on my left achilles tendon. I put a bandaid on the rub as well as some padded tape and wore them the next (final) day and could barely walk because of the pain from the rubs. Riding was fine. When I was able to take the boots off and look at the damage, there’s a sizeable very raw area. Ouch!

I’m still trying to get the rubs to heal but I have another show next week and could use the COTH wisdom for what to do to fix this problem. Will getting them stretched again help? Do I attempt the bathtub method (I’ve never done this and it makes me really nervous)? I’m not sure I can fit gel bands around my ankles and still get the boots on, so I don’t think that’s a viable option.

The rubs are only on my left foot and I’ve noticed that the left boot is tighter than the right. My previous pair of show boots were La Mundials and I had zero problems with them – they’ve simply reached the end of their useful (and much-appreciated!) life.


Try Equifit Gel Bands ( until they’re a big more broken in. Assume the boots have a zipper?

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For short term/low profile protection you could try tegaderm patches. Sometimes I get nasty chafes behind my knees when I ride in my trainer’s new saddle and they do help considerably, although YMMV if the skin is already torn. It doesn’t really reduce the pain in the moment so much, but it will help keep your skin intact so it doesn’t turn into a giant bloody blister. Ideally you would get the rubs to heal as much as possible this week, and then use tegaderm patches at the show.

Also make sure the zipper cover (on the inside of the boot) gets pulled across without any wrinkles when you put them on before you zip them up - that’s nearly always the culprit for me when my achilles starts getting rubs.

I think this was probably the biggest issue. Breaking in boots (especially snug ones) is just a time consuming process. I’d wear them as little as possible at the show, and worry about breaking them in at home when you can take them off before you rub your heels raw. I’d recommend wearing tennis shoes/paddock boots/other barn-appropriate footwear and only putting boots on before you get on the horse.

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I’ll look into the tegederm patches. (I’ve had great success with padded tape for behind the knee rubs.)

The zippers on these boots start on the inside, forward of the ankle, and then wrap around to the back above the ankle. So there is no inner flap. But I can see wrinkling, which must be the culprit. (This was the design on my previous boots and I requested the same on these boots since it means I can keep my dual custom spur rest on the very back of the boot. I have small feet and narrow ankles and it’s really difficult for me to keep spurs in place.)

I’ve ordered the long gel bands that Words_of_Wisdom recommended and I’m going to have my cobbler do one more stretch session.

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Ah yeah. While you’re riding that leather along the back gets stretched because you’re pushing your heels down and breaking the boots in. But when you’re just standing on the ground, there’s now “extra” leather that has to go somewhere and it’s wrinkling without any stability from a zipper to keep it more upright (not that zippers won’t wrinkle either!). I imagine walking in them makes those wrinkles even deeper because your ankle has to extend beyond the neutral standing position.

I guess your long-term options would be to 1) only wear the boots when you’re riding and not walking around in them to try and preserve the stability on the back or 2) take the “only way out is through” approach and try to get all the leather along the heel to be so soft/supple that the wrinkles no longer cause any pain. The latter may be expedited with a small amount of leather balm on the inside of the boot in that area.

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I wouldn’t stretch them more, that’s ultimately going to make the calf looser and the boots drop further, which will create more wrinkles.

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Ditto on the gel bands. They are long enough that, for most issues, you can cut them in half to make two shorter ones. This is helpful if you have more than one rubbed area. You can put them against your skin or over socks. They do add a bit of bulk which helps somewhat if the area you’re trying to protect is one where the boots are too tight as it will stretch them slightly.

And you can save a bit of money by buying a non-Equifit version. I found one a few years ago when bring tortured by new boots which appeared to be identical to Equifit’s version based on a direct comparison. This is apparently a big problem in ice skating.

[Gel band from Amazon.](Silipos 10845 Gel Tubing Ankle Sleeve, 3 Inch x 10 Inch (1/Bag)

I can’t remember what they’re called and I think they’re at the barn but I got a cool pair of little heel protectors at Valencia Sport Saddlery. They’re like a half-sock with an open heel, made of a very thin scuba-type material to reduce friction. Worked great. I found the gel bands made my boots painfully tight. They were maybe $25, if you call them I’m sure they will ship them to you.

I must say, I’d be pretty peeved at La Mundial, having to go through so much torture just to break in a pair of expensive (and much remade) custom boots! Rubs on the Achilles tendons aren’t just achy and sore, but can be dangerous if they go too deep. I’m honestly not sure if I’d have the patience to go through a trial-by-fire, especially if the other pair you owned didn’t require this.

Kentucky brand makes thin riding socks that have a layer of gel built in over the back of the Achilles. I have two pair and they are money.

I saw somewhere that there are socks with built in gel protection. I’m not sure if this would be enough in this situation, but might be worth doing a little digging to see if you can find them for future use. The equifit gel bands work great, but are sometimes a little too bulky for tight-fitting custom boot ankles.

Moleskin works great to reduce the friction. There will still be some pain due to the pressure from your boot contacting the area. But it will stop the blood shed.

I second gel bands if they’ll fit. The gel socks mentioned above are interesting. Though $40+ a pair is a bit off putting when one needs several pair to get through a bloody break-in situation.