Have you ever wondered what are metatarsal boots and metatarsal guards? Why is it always recommended to wear metatarsal boots or metatarsal guards at the workplace? How they protect your feet from injuries? Well, in this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about metatarsal boots and metatarsal guards.
Since the metatarsal bones are located in the forefoot, they are vulnerable to injuries due to direct trauma, slips, or falls. However, the metatarsal boots and guard protect your feet from injuries. Moreover, if something falls on your foot at the workplace and leads to a metatarsal fracture, these boots can help you reduce the pain and inflammation and aid in the steady recovery.
That is why OSHA recommends the employees either use metatarsal guards or footwear with in-built metatarsal protection at the workplace. However, you may want to know what is so special about these boots. What are the benefits of wearing these boots? Carry on reading to clear all your doubts!
What Are Metatarsal Boots?
Metatarsal boots are actually the work boots that feature met guards to reduce the risk of metatarsal bone getting damaged or injured. The met boots are mainly used in industries, such as manufacturing, transportation, construction, production, mining, etc.
These metatarsal boots are of two types – one with external guards & another with internal guards. You can choose the kind of metatarsal boot depending on your requirements. But, no matter the type you select, all the metatarsal work boots need to be ASTM-certified. They must meet the specific parameters for approval.
What Is A Metatarsal Guard?
A metatarsal guard is a cover that offers protection from the toe to the joint of the ankle. With the aid of the metatarsal guard, the area between toes and ankles remain protected. Thus, it reduces the risk of serious foot injury such as fractures from the impact of falling objects or rolling over of heavy equipment.
However, the choice of the metatarsal guard for the shoe depends on the work environment. For instance, if you work at a place where there are high risks of falling objects injuring your metatarsals, you will need boots fitted with internal metatarsal guards. On the other hand, if you work with heavy equipment that has high chances of rolling over, boots with external met guards are the ideal choice.
Why Is Metatarsal Protection Required?
There are five metatarsal bones in each foot. These are actually the long thin bones that connect the ankle to the toe. These bones are much more sensitive to injuries and can encounter fractures easily during an impact.
For instance, if an object drops from a certain height, it can shatter the metatarsal bones. Now, it can take months or even years for the injury to heal properly. Treatments generally include the usage of casts, medicines, etc. Some patients might also have to opt for physical therapy or surgery.
Despite being a safety work shoe, steel toe boots do not offer adequate protection to the metatarsals as the steel toe shoes are designed to give more importance to the toes. Thus, it leaves the metatarsal area unprotected.
However, the Metatarsal guard safeguards the feet from hazardous embers, molten metal, etc. As a result, they are considered as part of the PPE for welders. It is for enhanced protection of their feet.
According to an OSHA report, a standard foot injury is generally due to metal objects that have an average weight of 65 pounds and drops from a height of four feet. As per legislation, weights of 30 pounds when dropped from a distance can cause a substantial risk for a foot injury.
For this, metatarsal protection is a must. Also, in the case of rolling objects, the weight must be more than fifty pounds to get metatarsal protection.
Roles and Benefits of Metatarsal Guards
Following are the numerous benefits you can get by wearing metatarsal guards, take a look at some of them listed here.
Protection From Impact
One of the most vital benefits of using a metatarsal guard is that it offers protection from impacts. The impact can be from objects falling from a great height, heavy blows, or any other forces from any direction.
The ability to protect the metatarsals from impact makes it perfect for work environments such as construction sites. If something hits your metatarsals, you can trust the met guard to absorb the shock impact. Moreover, it will also prevent the occurrence of strains, fractures, and any other foot injuries. Most of the met boots are tested for high impact before getting ATSM approval.
Safety Against Foot Severing
If you work in industries that require working with power saws, sharp blades, and other cutting tools, wearing metatarsal guards is the only choice left. That is why it is included in the PPE for several industries.
Can you imagine the kind of trauma you would have to go through if a saw amputates your foot? With these metatarsal guards, you have maximum protection from gashes, cuts, and other massive injuries from angle grinders and other powerful cutting equipment pieces.
Protection From Burns & Harmful Chemicals
There are numerous industries where workers have to tackle extreme heat, harmful chemicals, and dangerous situations. In that case, wearing metatarsal guards is of paramount importance.
For instance, welders work with molten metal and have a high risk of a foot injury. They must wear met guards and metatarsal boots to provide proper protection against molten substances without any issue.
Likewise, people working in the chemical industries must also wear met guards. The need for robust met boots is required to handle acids, fuels, and other hazardous chemicals.
Safeguard Against Penetration
Apart from protecting your foot from piercing objects, the metatarsal guards safeguard your foot from threats that come from above. If you work around nail guns, ram sets, or other powerful firing tools, met guards offer a great deal of protection.
Now, you do not have to worry about the high-velocity nails hitting your foot. They will bounce off, and your metatarsals will be free from strains and fractures.
Types of Metatarsal Work Boots
External Metatarsal Protection
The external metatarsal guards provide great security and cover the outside of the work boots. Usually, they are placed on the top part of the shoes as these offer the primary protection against harmful and sharp objects.
But, without the met guards in place, these objects could cause serious injury to your feet. Due to their placement, it can be thick in design without compromising the comfort of the user. They also offer protection against corrosives and other debris.
However, there are some disadvantages associated with the external met guards. One of the most vital ones is the reduction in flexibility while moving. It means that you will feel a certain level of discomfort during the movements.
Another drawback of the met guard is the external protrusion. It can actually cause issues, especially for workers who use ladders at their work. But, with the invention of modern designs, these limitations are soon expected to be eliminated.
Internal Metatarsal Guards
The internal metatarsal guards are placed inside the boots and offer protection to the wearer. Inner guards provide extended protection from inside the shoe. There are two types of materials, which can be used to design the internal guards.
Firstly, absorptive, soft materials can be used. And secondly, flexible and maneuverable scales covered in padding, which is soft, can also be used. Both of them offer a certain level of flexibility.
Now, the internal guard offers the same protection level as the external met guard on sudden impacts. However, on the parameter of slow compression, it lags behind. The integral met guards offer a far more aesthetically pleasing appearance.
However, they were previously not really popular due to the discomfort factor. The thickness of the internal met guards made the wearers extremely uncomfortable while moving, but with the latest advancements, flexibility is not an issue anymore.
There are numerous causes that can lead to pain, inflammation, and even fracture of the metatarsal bones. If not careful, you will have to encounter a lengthy recovery period. However, you can use metatarsal boots and guards for extra protection. These cover the metatarsal area and ensure that it is protected from potential foot injuries.
- Metatarsal boots are equipped with metatarsal guards.
- There are two types of met guards – external and internal.
- The type of metatarsal guard that you need depends on the specific working conditions.
- There are multiple benefits of metatarsal guards. These include safety from impacts, penetration, harmful chemicals, and severing.