POV: You Don't Pay Much Attention to Your Feet, Until They Start Hurting
Your life doesn't slow down or stop when you have pain. And if you work on your feet all day, you know that trying to just work through foot pain is next to impossible. If you work in the trades, from construction to sanitation and everything in between, odds are you have to wear work boots, often with a steel toe or composite toe.
When the boots you wear are so important, how can you be sure you're choosing the right pair?
The best work boots are those with a high-quality tread to prevent falls, a strong toe made from steel or composite material, water-resistant and durable construction, and proper support in the arch and heel. Adding shoe inserts or orthotics to your boots can increase comfort and support.
By starting with the qualities listed above, you can ensure that your feet are adequately supported and protected from workplace dangers. With work boots costing up to $300 at certain retailers, your wallet is begging you to choose wisely. Keep reading to learn how.
Types of Workboots
While steel-toe and composite-toe work boots are the most common, there are a few other varieties to choose from. The type of workboots you need depends on your job.
- Soft-Toe Work Boots. These lightweight, comfortable boots are ideal for jobs without a safety-toe requirement. Luckily for anyone in these trades, like security, fishing, and food service, soft-toe work boots are the most inexpensive option. You should still be certain that the boots have good tread for optimal non-slipablity.
- Alloy-Toe and Alluminum-Toe Work Boots. These two varieties of safety-toe boots are not as common. Alloy-toed boots are made of mixed metals, and both types are exceedingly more lightweight than steel. Because they use more high-quality materials, the price tag is a little more significant than their steel and composite counterparts.
- Met-Guard Work Boots. With a guard that extends over the top of your foot, met-guard work boots protect more than just your toes. These boots are typically favored by those in welding trades because the guard protects from fly-away sparks catching your laces. They aren't necessary for every trade, but the price is comparable to traditional steel. More often than not, they include a steel toe.
What Work Boot Style Should I Buy?
Aside from the general variety of your work boots, your should make sure the pair of safety shoes you buy fit your profession. For example, those who work in wet conditions where they may be ankle-deep in flood water should wear a Wellington-style boot. This style is tall and free from laces to prevent water from leaking inside the shoe. Damp, cramped conditions inside your shoe can lead to athlete's foot, fungal toenails, and foot odor. If you're tired of your family asking you to leave your work boots outside on the porch, this article will teach you how to get rid of your stinky feet at home.
Electricians and journeymen should focus on keeping their footwear lightweight and comfortable to make it easier to climb telephone poles and ladders. Those in electrical trades can also look for boots that are stamped with an EH (Electrical Hazard). This stamp of approval means the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has tested and proven the boot's ability to protect workers from electrical shock.
Construction workers benefit from high-quality boots with good materials that can withstand dust and debris. OSHA requires steel-toe, puncture-resistant boots for construction workers. Traction is also important on uneven ground, so make sure to look for boots with good treads, and replace the boots (or just the soles) when the treads become worn.
What is the Difference Between Work Boots and Regular Boots
Work boots serve the purpose of keeping your feet safe on dangerous job sites where there is a high risk of impact injuries. Many jobs require employees to wear work boots or safety shoes, while regular boots are typically worn for warmth in the winter or just for fashion.
Should You Size Up or Down for Work Boots and Safety Shoes?
When it comes to the boots you are wearing for work, it is essential that you try them on, walk around in them, and make sure the store allows returns or exchanges. Just like when your purchase gym shoes, running shoes, dress shoes, and everyday shoes, you should focus on the fit over the size. Never try to make a certain size work because it's all the store carries or it's the size you usually wear.
It is better to have work boots that are slightly larger rather than boots that are too tight. Your toes should not rub on the inside of the shoe, but your feet shouldn't slide around in your boots either. If your boots are a little too roomy, you can add a shoe insert to take up a little space. The added support is just a bonus.
Going to a store that specializes in work boots is a great option. Staff at specialty stores are trained to help you pick a pair of boots that will work with your job and work with your feet. Another benefit to purchasing work boots from a specialty retailer is going back when they need to be cleaned, oiled, or re-soled. Companies like Red Wing Shoes offer re-soling for a very reasonable price; that way, you can extend the life of your boots and get more bang for your buck.
Why Do My Feet Hurt From Standing on Concrete All Day?
Okay, so you've bought nice, high-quality work boots, but your feet still hurt. What gives? Well, certainly not concrete. Because concrete is so solid, the impact of your feet hitting the floor is more intense. This can often result in pain, even sharp, severe pain.
If you stand on concrete all day, you need to wear comfortable, supportive shoes with high-quality inserts that offer the right balance of cushion and support.
At the end of the day, work boots have come a long way in terms of comfort. Many brands have reinvented their own wheels by offering more supportive styles and even their own lines of shoe inserts. I highly recommend supportive shoe inserts or custom orthotics for anyone who stands on concrete all day. Prolonged overuse without proper support can lead to plantar fasciitis and other forms of heel pain.
Should I Wear Gel Inserts?
Gel inserts may look cool and they might even feel good for a day or two. The truth is, gel or other novelty inserts (often found at the drugstore) don't have enough structure to offer any real, consistent support. Look for high-quality inserts (perfect for your high-quality boots, right?). Pure Stride Shoe Inserts use memory foam and legendary support to keep your feet comfortable while your boots keep them protected.
Can I Wear Orthotics in Work Boots?
Custom inserts are always the best option. By taking an exact, precise scan of your feet and analyzing your gait, we can determine what kind of support you need, how much support you need, and where you need it. A little extra cushion and offloading will keep your feet happy during every hour of every shift. If you stand on concrete all day, shoe inserts are highly recommended.
Your custom inserts should fit perfectly into your work boots. You can even bring your boots with you to your appointment so that your perfect inserts can be designed with every aspect of your life in mind. A shorter, three-quarter length insert may be a good option if you wear tall, snug boots with no laces. Here's an article detailing the best shoes to wear with orthotics.