First, let us start with some important facts:
Work Boots: The Fundamental Facts
Work boots are specially made to provide your feet with complete protection from any damage that can be caused by heavy lifting, constant walking, or running. They are sturdy enough to help your body withstand an incredible amount of pressure. These boots keep the feet from getting too warm or too cold and prevent water from getting inside.
Government guidelines also require all workers whose work line has the potential to harm their feet to wear footwear suitable for hard labor. Usually, shoes worn on the job are made of leather or nylon; these materials offer durability and keep the boots waterproof. Most types of these shoes are lace-ups and rise beyond the ankles, so they remain protected as well. Rubber soles give the boots their anti-slip and anti-abrasion features. In addition to this, you can opt for options that provide added safety characteristics, like toe protection. You can get ones with a steel covering over the toe area, so they do not get crushed or stubbed in case of an accident or mishap.
Made with sturdy materials and recommended by experts, it seems that wearing such footwear are a no brainer when it comes to work-related safety measures. However, there are certain things you must keep in mind when putting on the pair you own or when you go shopping for a pair the next time round.
Can your Work Boots be Actually Harming You?
It may sound counter-intuitive and surprising, yet boots worn during work can actually be injurious. If you do not select a suitable pair or do not take certain precautions, shoes for work can end up harming yourself. They are designed to provide your feet with safety under extreme conditions. However, if you do not get a pair that fits you correctly, you can suffer.
The general make-up of the work boots is tough so that it can be used in rough conditions. If you get a pair that does not fit correctly, then that toughness can prove damaging to your own body. High rise boots that finish off at the wrong place on the shin can cut into the skin and bruise you, or a boot that is too narrow at the tip can cause your joints and bones to hurt over time.
A regular work shift can last up to 8 to 10 hours, and that is a long time you spend standing and walking in shoes that are as tough as nails. A series of studies conducted by the researcher Terje Haugaa found out that around 305 of the workers who wore boots specifically designed for safety purposes ended up contracting foot-related health issues.
Aside from the fit, the shoe’s overall shape can play a huge part in causing discomfort. Shoes that are shaped to follow the natural curves of the feet are much better. In contrast, banana-shaped ones actually cause more strain to the foot, and continuous use can result in long-term damage. Just like a bad posture can lead to chronic pain issues, using a bad work boot for an extended period of time can lead to permanent damage to the bone structure. This means that while the shoes may be protecting your feet from the outside forces, they are causing damage on the inside.
Another huge issue that should ring alarm bells is the flexibility of the shoes. These shoes are known for being hard, but durable does not have to mean stiff. The shape of our feet changes depending upon the movement, posture, and position that they are in. If the shoes do not bend and conform to the shape of your foot that they can seriously restrict your movement, and you can end up straining your joints and muscles in the process.
It is important to know how to get just the right pair for yourself and tips you can follow to ascertain that the boots you wear are not detrimental to your health.
Selecting the Best Work Boots that Deliver Comfort and Safety
Ideally speaking, work boots that are fully customized to fit your specific feet are the best. They are tailored to the specific shape of your anatomy so they will fit like and glove and prevent issues that arise as a consequence of the shoe not fitting properly. But due fto the high cost of getting custom-made ones, the idea is not a realistic option.
Worry not, though, because you can get a great fit if you keep a few key points in mind:
Measure yourself accurately
This is the initial step. Most of us already know our shoe size and tend to buy shoes in that one size. In reality, shoe sizes that truly fit can vary slightly depending upon the shoe’s style. You may need to go a size up when it comes to shoes that are more closed up, especially at the front. So, it is always best to know your exact measurements for both feet. This is because the sizes can vary from left to right.
Trying on is key
You can only determine whether a pair of shoes fits perfectly if you try it on like how you would normally wear it. This means trying on both sides and wearing the socks you would wear to work. You should look for a snug fit, not too tight that you feel undue pressure down there, and not too loose that your feet come out of the boot.
Test the shoes for mobility
Once you find a pair that seemingly fits well, test it out. Walk in it, run in it, jump in it, basically do whatever you want to see if it feels comfortable if you move around. Even stand in them for a long period of time to make sure they do not start hurting you. Good footwear designed for manual labor should not hinder your mobility and, if anything, assist you in your daily tasks.
Check for chafing
Even when you think a boot fits on the first wear, it might not be the most comfortable thing to wear for long periods. This is why you should pay close attention to any kind of pressure or chafing that might arise. Take the shoes off a few times to make sure they do not graze and feel the interiors as well. If the boot’s tongue is cutting your foot when you have laced it in place, then be wary of that.
Examine feet after trying
Sometimes you might not feel that your feet have been under pressure or endured any damage after wearing them around for a few minutes. However, you can still spot some redness on certain areas caused by discomfort. After trying on the pair, carefully examine your feet for any signs that may indicate potential damage.
Always get a pair that is refundable
Finally, even if you get a pair you test out thoroughly, there is no guarantee that your feet will not hurt while wearing them during work. The real test comes when you go about your work in them and, as a result, wear them for long periods of time and in trying conditions. You can never be too sure, which is why it is always recommended that you get a pair that is refundable so you can get your money back in case you need to have them exchanged. It is always better to be a smart shopper, and you must consider all aspects of the product, including the after-sales service.
Top Tips to Maximize Comfort while Wearing Work Boots
Even if you get the shoes that perfectly fit you, some discomfort is always present. My working boots are killing me! This is the nature of enclosed shoes, even customized ones, when worn for long periods of time, which is why you need to know the tips and tricks to prevent discomfort while you go about your work.
Ways to maximize comfort while wearing your shoes to work include:
Practice makes perfect
As already mentioned, you can get a general feel for a shoe when you try it, but when you wear them at work, you can judge their real performance. The reality is that all shoes are initially stiff since they are brand new. Shoes eventually get more flexible and conform to the contours of your feet. So, it would be best if you gave new shoes some time. It would help if you practiced wearing them for short periods of time to run errands or around the house before wearing them to work. This will give you time to get used to the boots. This is especially the case with steel-toed shoes, which usually feel awkward and uncomfortable at first.
Invest in good quality socks
Good quality socks are really important too. They can prevent your feet from feeling the pressure of the boots when they are all laced up. Thick and soft socks are the best as they act as padding between your skin and the footwear’s actual interior. You can even get socks explicitly made to be worn with steel toe boots.
Insoles come in many different shapes and sizes. Whether you want to insoles for the toe area or the arch of your feet, or perhaps the entire length of the feet, you can find an insole that fits your need. They can be made from several different materials, including gel and memory foam. The ultimate purpose is to provide support to your feet’ structure and keep the soles from feeling too much pressure.
Wrap bandage if necessary
While socks do offer a lot of protection, if you still find your feet are bruised after a long workday, it may be time to wrap them in bandages. Bandages offer an added layer of protection and provide a snug compression to relieve pain. Bandages are not a substitute for socks- the two should be used together. It is also not safe to continuously wear support bandages for more than a few hours as they restrict blood flow to and from the feet. Remember to wear them only when necessary.
Keep your work boots in good condition
To get the best results you need to maintain your shoes. Just like a car, your footwear also needs to be taken care of to make sure they remain comfortable and last you for years to come. It is always best to have more than a single pair so you can switch in between and reduce the wear and tear on each pair. Check our guide about cleaning work boots to learn how to do it the right way and keep your investment working for a long time in better conditions.
Always keep your boots clean and dry. It is hard to avoid the grime and dust that comes with the daily toil, but you must clean your shoes once the day is over. It is also important to have your boots dry, inside and out, to prevent damage to the leather. Boots need to be kept dry to avoid issues of the foot like Athlete’s Feet as well.
You may be in a line of work that requires a lot of hard labor and toil, and safety gear like helmets, gloves, and work boots are a necessity for you to prevent on-job injuries and health hazards. However, a uniform that provides safety may not always maximize comfort. This, in turn, may give rise to health problems.
One of the most frequent complaints is the discomfort felt while wearing a pair of these on the job. These shoes are extremely tough and made to perform well in rugged conditions; however, they can be tough on your feet as well. Over time your feet can become blistered and damaged due to the prolonged amount of time you wear enclosed shoes. Your feet may become swollen and painful, which can distract you from your work and make you even more prone to work-related injuries.
The first step of preventing or, in the very least, reducing the possibility of discomfort caused by such boots is selecting the right pair. Make your decision carefully, get the shoe that fits, maintain comfort levels for long periods, and offer full mobility. In addition to this, you can make wearing them a more pleasant experience by getting the right type of socks and insoles. Try to wear them and practice walking in them so you can ease into them. Finally, use bandages if and when need be.
Boots meant for work can be a huge discomfort as they are made to offer protection from outside forces, but you need not suffer through it. Just follow the tips mentioned, and you will have a happy, healthy pair of feet.