Your work boots, or more accurately, your steel toe boots, are designed to protect your toes from being crushed under any industrial weight or liquid that could accidentally drop on you. While some manufacturers keep in mind the comfort factor, most of them forget this essential segment and focus specifically on safety.
If your feet have been killing you after long hours of wearing the steel toe, make sure you consider the tips that we are going to provide below to add a bit of comfort for your feet. So, without further ado, let us ease your suffering for that eternal comfort.
Consider the Basics
- Your steel toe boots are designed to be rugged and durable. Even when they are designed for the protection of your feet, they can make you cry in agony while you take them off after you reach home.
- Unless you opt for a custom steel toe boot, your work boot might not provide the right kind of arch support needed by your feet. It can induce a lot of pain and abrasion for your feet. The key is to seek shoes with proper arch support to add insoles that could ensure proper fit and pick off any pain that might ail you.
- You can select from the firm or soft soles depending on your feet’ design or the hours you work for.
Things You Must Know About Steel Toe Work Boots
The OSHA & the US Labor Department requires employers to ensure that their employees wear protective footwear, especially if their job tends to pose a threat to the feet. Now, there are rules outlined for the structure on the outer of your steel toe boot, but there are no guidelines for the inner material.
That is why most steel toe boots or work boots would leave you with pain and swelling as if someone had been strongly gripping your feet for long hours. There are several ways by which you can make the work boots pretty comfortable as you focus on your work.
Steel Toe Boots: How Should They Fit You?
You must take some time to locate the best and most comfortable work boot that could ease any painful experience while taking a lot of pressure off your feet. Boots that have been designed too narrow or short will crowd the feet while making them constricting and unbreathable.
On the other hand, boots that fit you too big would lead to haphazard movements on different sides while causing hot spots or blisters every now and then.
In case you are looking for the right steel toe boot, make sure you consider these steps in the process:
1-Wear your work socks:
Wool/synthetic or polyester blends tend to keep the feet comfortable as compared to cotton. The cushioning present in the bottom area tends to amplify the comfort. So, make sure you wear the socks that you wear for your work so that you can understand whether the boot fits you well.
To do this, you need to slide the foot in the forward direction until the toes start touching the boot’s front area. Now, bend the knee in the forward direction. If the index finger’s width fits exactly between your foot’s heel &the shoe’s back area, you can definitely buy this work boot.
Make sure you test out both shoes in the pair to check whether the length is right for you.
3-Check if the laces are secure:
Another factor you need to check is whether the boot fits your foot comfortably with the help of the laces. If the laces tend to feel uncomfortably tight, free yourself from the grasp of these shoes. Your work boot should have laces that prevent the foot from coming off the shoe or sliding all the way to the toe area.
4-Check for boot flex in the foot’s ball area:
Make sure you avoid boots or steel-toe shoes that tend to bend in the arch area. These boots do not provide adequate support.
5-Consider the Swelling:
Even if you have the most comfortable shoes on your feet, wearing one all day long would definitely cause a bit of swelling. It is especially true if you work in a hot environment. Make sure you try out the work boots only after your work hours when your foot is at its largest.
How Can I Avoid Hurting My Feet with Steel Toe Boots?
Consider this fact that every day, the total impact that affects your feet tends to be close to the pressure being put by a completely loaded truck with cement on it. That is why your arches require firm support to tackle all this pressure, especially when you have arthritis or flat feet.
Insoles that are added to your steel toe boots can give you the right kind of support while keeping your feet pain-free and comfortable.
Lack of adequate arch support tends to carve the way for different types of foot ailments such as tendinitis, metatarsalgia, or plantar fasciitis.
Here is how insoles for arch support aid your work boots and your feet:
- Relieve pressure from the ligament connecting your toe to the heel:
Insoles help your feet be just as comfortable by the end of the day as they felt in the morning. It also helps prevent any acute or chronic heel pain due to plantar fasciitis.
- Even pressure distribution:
Insoles for arch support aid with even distribution of impact on the entirety of the foot surface. It helps reduce the pressure that has been troubling your heel or ball of the feet.
- Correct any misalignment:
Misalignment in your feet could cause lingering pain in the hips, back, as well as knee. With an insole in place, you get access to a stable and rigid foundation that pays up huge dividends that cough up nothing else but comfort.
However, the insoles already added to the steel toe work boots aren’t as adequate as you would want them to be, even the expensive ones. Assuming that you have selected the best work boots for your safety needs, you must bring along an insert that can amp up your feet’ comfort.
When hunting for the right insoles, here are some things that you need to consider:
Place the insoles atop a table. In case you can deflect its arch with respect to the table, these insoles aren’t right for you. A foamy-soft insole might feel amazing in the beginning, but it might not be perfect for correcting foot problems or biomechanical issues like overpronation.
Like the way your boot must fit you right, the insoles have to fit in perfectly. Make sure you select insoles that are a perfect match to the arch contours of your feet. A flawlessly fitting insole is like a glove that gives you strong support all day long.
Investing in high-quality insoles would definitely be a pricier affair, but they won’t have to be replaced every now and then while lasting longer than normal.
How can you select the best steel toe boots?
In the professional world, there are different variants of steel toe boots available in the market. A smokejumper or a postman might have very different requirements. However, some of the important features that you must consider when choosing the steel toe boot for comfort are weight, height, safety toes, boot construct, water resistance, style, and safety toes.
1-Height of the Boot:
If you are linesmen, safety boots must be taller to ensure protection as you tread in deeper woods. However, you need to keep in mind that taller boots could be just as hard to wear as well as heavy on your feet. Shorter boots tend to be cooler, lighter, & better to ensure day-long usage.
The best quality boots are damn strong but could be very heavy as well. Keep in mind that the heavier your boots, the higher the pressure on your feet. Back in the days, heavy boots were known to provide better support. However, with better materials & optimum understanding associated with arch support, we get lightweight boots that render optimum support throughout the day.
Certain boots pack in waterproof leathers while others pack in waterproof membranes such as Gore-Tex. There are some available in the market that is decked with breathable materials. Your steel toe boot with waterproof material could be perfect for helping you deal with any water spillage throughout the day.
However, they might not let any moisture, or in this case, the sweat to evaporate out of your boots. It eventually leads to a wetter and hotter feeling as you work. They are also hard to dry after your work hour is over.
You can select from different types of safety toes. While a steel toe is a classic choice, you can consider other composite work toe boot options. It ensures that you can customize the comfort level as needed.
As the temperature drops, you need work boots that are properly insulated for outdoor usage. However, you also need to keep in mind the fact that these boots will feel just as hot in the summer months. For those hotter months, make sure you consider steel toe boots that come with mesh or fabric uppers.
Stitch down or welted boots are designed to last & can be easily resoled several times. Direct construction or cement where the boot’s outsole is attached with the upper can be resolved. However, it would depend on the quality and condition of the boot.
Safety doesn’t mean you have to compromise with style. You can easily pick up some stylish options from the market without risking the safety of your toes.
Socks for Comfort: Purchasing the Right Material for Work Shoes
When shopping for steel toe boots, people often forget the need for socks and the role of the play in providing you with added comfort.
Here is the right way to select socks that would enhance your steel toe boots’ comfort factor.
While you might assume that cotton is the best material available thus far with a natural origin, they might not be a great fit for your steel toe boots. Cotton tends to absorb moisture while holding it within the shoe.
Moreover, wet cotton tends to lose all its cushioning ability while making you feel horrible during your work hour.
Cotton is a synthetic fiber that doesn’t absorb moisture. This fabric material actually drives away the moisture with the help of the heat being radiated by the foot. Moreover, the cushioning provided by polyester socks are far better as compared to cotton.
3-Wool & Woolen Blends:
This fabric is the best for your steel toe boot socks as it is naturally anti-microbial and keeps your feet comfortable and dry. High-quality designs offer ample cushioning in the arch and bottom area with ventilated weaving on the top.
Maintain Your Boots to Enhance the Comfort
In order to work your boot the right way, you need to maintain them. Here are some ways to do that.
1-Rotate the Boots:
Most professionals tend to stick to that single pair of steel toe boot & keep wearing them till it wears out. Your work boots would last much longer if you rotate them with two or more pairs. Alternating them every now and then allows it to dry out completely between uses.
This way, the work boot would last longer with added comfort.
2-Dry the Boots:
Make sure you allow the boots to dry up after you have worked wearing them all day long. Even if you feel like they are dry, it is quite possible that the material would have absorbed some moisture.
However, make sure that the boots aren’t exposed to direct heat. It can lead to the weakening of the material. In order to dry them faster, make sure you remove the insoles. If your work boots are soaked, you can fill them up with newspaper or pieces of paper to draw out any moisture content.
3-Keep the Boots Clean:
Remove the mud or dirt from the leather to ensure that the work shoe doesn’t dry out. Make sure you use a good wiping brush to clean up the same. If there is salt present in your steel toe work boots, you can get them off using water and vinegar solution.
Workboot, especially the ones made of leather, would benefit from high-quality conditioners. Before you apply the conditioner on the steel toe boot, make sure you clean them up & dry them properly. Oil-based treatments tend to soften the material to ease the break-in period. On the other hand, PTFE or Silicone based treatments add a waterproofing element to the boot.
Additional Methods to Try for Comfort
1-Add Tongue Pads:
As important as an insole is for your steel toe boot’s comfort, you can make it way more comfortable by adding the tongue pads. In case your steel toe work boot feels compressed or sharp in the edge or sidewalls, some extra tongue padding can help ease this discomfort.
2-Wrap Some Bandaids:
When wearing steel toe boots, your little toe & the biggest toe or longest toe can hurt. It is the 5th and 1st toe. To avoid any abrasion, nicks, or bruises, you can wrap band-aids around these two toes before you wear the work boots.
3-Put on Some Vaseline:
Vaseline helps add up a thick and protective coating on the toes while preventing calluses and blisters. Make sure you apply a good amount of this petroleum jelly and avoid the development of any cuts or bruises.
Given the fact that the steel toe work boots protect you from major injuries, they can never be skipped or avoided. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t be comfortable. The key is to follow this comprehensive guide to make your steel toe boots more desirable. These hacks will definitely make you love what you wear without bargaining on the safety.
I am a registered professional nurse with experience of 10+ years under my belt. I graduated from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Since then, I have been beneficial for various rehabilitative and critical medical situations. I work with Feetfitness.com Team with researching foot problems and assists them by providing my expertise in the best footwear for different medical conditions. I am also instrumental to the group by helping in test, compile, and present the best footwear for professionals & everyday uses