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This article is for anyone who has ever worn safety shoes. You know those things that are designed to keep your toes from getting smashed but end up hurting your feet? Have you noticed that sometimes it’s really hard to get in? Read this guide to fix this problem and feel good at work.
Can steel toe safety shoes hurt your feet? Yes, safety shoes can hurt your feet in some way. There are two main causes of pain when wearing these shoes: tightness and weight. The tightness can be caused by having too much room in the toe, heel, or arch area, and a shoe that is not the right size or fit. The weight may be caused by a durable sole with more material, making it difficult to walk on.
Can Safety Shoes Cause Foot Problems?
Safety shoes or work boots can cause foot problems, including chafing, numb toes, blisters, calluses, and leg pain. You can prevent these problems by wearing modern lightweight safety shoes with comfortable insoles and plush padding.
The human foot is a complex natural engineering marvel. Bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves are all intricately intertwined to form the foot. These bones and cartilage support the weight imposed by each person’s gait, while also providing us with enough flexibility to stride fearlessly.
Anyone who has to wear safety boots knows the benefits of this sturdy shoe when injured in a fall or other accident.
However, there’s also a big downside: there’s often no room for extra insole; this reduces comfort and can lead to fatigue, leading to potential accidents that don’t just affect your feet – back pain, knee injuries, and other similar issues can become a serious health hazard.
Lack of buffering is a problem. Another problem was the steel toe cap itself, which was sometimes pressed against the foot when walking.
How Can Safety Shoes Cause Foot Problems?
Factories or industrial areas are very dangerous. There are several potential hazards such as falls, falling heavy objects, and sharp objects.
In one study, 91% of workers said foot problems affected their safety shoes. Studies have found that most foot problems are caused by the following unfavorable properties of embedded safety boots to address potential hazards in the industry:
- Inflexible sole
- Pressure from the toe cap
The aforementioned safety features contained in safety work boots compromise their flexibility and bulk, which adversely affects worker comfort and gait.
In safety shoes, steel or composite panels run along the bottom of the safety shoe. These are stiffer boards that provide arch protection if the sole is damaged or if you step on a sharp object in the factor area. Due to the stiffness of these panels, your feet can start to hurt if you stand for more than 8 hours during a shift in an industrial area.
Since the safety shoe is completely closed with sturdy leather material, it affects breathability and can cause various foot problems.
Some Common Foot Problems that Safety Shoes Can Cause
Below are the following common foot problems that can be caused by heavier or stiffer safety shoes or work boots.
#1 Plantar fasciitis
The main problem with wearing safety shoes every day is that they usually have poor insoles. This means little or no support to ensure even pressure distribution.
Additionally, safety shoes that are too stiff can cause the arch of the foot to bend unnaturally, which can lead to plantar fasciitis. This is an inflammation of the ligaments that support the arch of the foot and can cause severe pain.
A chafing occurs when two moving areas of the body rub against each other, causing irritation and possible bleeding. The front of the safety shoe is where most blisters and skin irritations occur because it contains the steel toe cap and other elements that rub against the foot.
Because safety shoes have minimal breathability, sweating feet can also increase friction, increasing the likelihood of chafing.
If the safety shoes are too tight and the steel plate starts to cut into your foot, they are most likely to cause chafing. Safety work shoes that are too tight can cause toe cramps, pressing them hard against the stiffer toe of the work shoe. This causes wear and tear on the feet and makes every step painful.
#3 Sore legs
Problems with leg injuries and pain are caused by wearing safety shoes for a long time. Steel-toed safety shoes are made of heavy materials that can put excessive stress on the legs when standing for long periods of time. This problem occurs due to the stiffer sole of the safety shoe, with negligible arch support.
#4 Numbness, calluses, and corns
Numbness, corns, and calluses are all caused by wearing safety shoes that are too tight. If you’re having these problems, it means your safety boots aren’t threaded in properly or the shoes are too tight.
Corns and calluses are also caused by the pressure of the boots. Not having enough freedom of movement can lead to blisters or corns on the toes.
Numbness occurs when steel toes repeatedly apply pressure to the top of the foot. This is due to the hard material and tight fit of the safety shoe.
Studies were also conducted to examine the correlation between foot load and safety shoe fit. In this study, it was found that the dimensions of different regions of the foot responded differently to static and dynamic loads.
For example, if you have to walk too much, your feet will not be the same size as when you are standing. Therefore, you should also consider these adjustments, depending on the characteristics of the workstation.
If you don’t put your boots on properly before actually wearing them to work, you could end up with joint pain and even knee problems. The break-in of a safety shoe can soften its material and create more space in the toe box to avoid the aforementioned foot problems.
#5 Knee and back pain
Everyone has a unique foot shape, including the height of the instep, the distance between the heel and the ball of the foot, and the width of the foot. Therefore, a safety shoe with the wrong heel height can interfere with your body standing or walking, resulting in ankle, knee, and back sprains.
Studies have shown that the heel of a safety shoe should not exceed 2.5 inches and be no lower than the ball of the foot.
Is There a Way to Break Steel Toe Shoes?
The steel plate on the safety boots is strong; however, it can cause discomfort to your feet if you don’t put the boots on properly.
There are several ways to break steel toe shoes. I recommend that you use the method below to properly put on your shoes before walking around your house and putting them on to work.
Wear anti-theft shoes with thick socks or double socks (one thin and one thick) to stretch the leather and walk around in them for a few hours a day. The benefit of double-layer socks is that they protect your feet from blisters.
After a lot of research, I found that Dickies socks are the best socks to wear in safety shoes or work boots. You must try it. It’s smooth and thick. The Darn Tough socks are also highly recommended by the workers. These socks are made of merino wool. It is very comfortable and moisture-wicking. Dickies socks are best for breaking in. After that, you can wear damn Tough socks.
Also, to prevent aches and pains during the break-in period of your safety boots, apply lotion or petroleum jelly to your feet before you start wearing steel-toed boots to prevent chafing.
The normal part of a safety boot can break easily. But steel toes are hard to stretch. You just have to get used to how they feel, and if you wear them a lot, you’ll get used to it. If you can afford it, I recommend buying safety shoes with composite toe caps as they are more forgiving than steel toe caps.
A break-in period of a few days can also allow your feet to get used to the roughness of the toe caps before actually putting on safety shoes throughout the long shift.
How Should Safety Shoes Be Worn?
Safety shoes should be fitted in such a way that the forefoot area allows free movement of the toes. As a rule of thumb, buy one size larger than the size that is uncomfortable on your feet.
When shopping for safety shoes, always pay attention to the size of your big feet. Also, measure your feet after getting off work in the afternoon. This is because the feet may swell to their maximum size due to prolonged standing. Therefore, this would be the perfect time to determine the best safety shoe size for your foot shape.
Tip: I always recommend getting your safety shoes half a size up so you can also place the insoles for better arch support.
A steel-toed boot shouldn’t hurt; if it’s causing pain, it probably just doesn’t fit. While most leather shoes can bend and shape slightly, steel shapes your foot first. The RW store advised me to use a wider width to accommodate the toe cap and MT protection, so far so good.
How To Make Safety Shoes Comfortable?
You can make safety shoes more comfortable by doing different things. First, if you buy a pair that’s a little too big, you should put shock-absorbing inserts in it. Insoles are pads that provide extra cushioning and can add an extra layer of protection to your feet. The second thing you can do is wear thick socks to add another layer of protection and make your boots feel more comfortable.
Also, to avoid the steel toe cutting into the toe, I recommend wearing a gel toe. These gel toes are not only comfortable but also prevent toe cramps.
Are Safety Shoes Bad for Your Feet?
Safety shoes can be harmful to your feet if you don’t buy the right shoes and take extra steps to keep you comfortable. Safety shoes are primarily focused on protection rather than comfort.
Safety shoes can be harmful to your feet if you don’t buy the right shoes and take extra steps to keep you comfortable.
First, safety shoes should fit when purchased. If your boots are too tight or too loose, they can cut into your skin and cause blisters or corns on your feet. However, if the fit is not perfect, it is advisable to wear thick socks while breaking at the sides and toe of the safety boot.
Also, some safety boots can injure your heels because they are under too much pressure. Therefore, you should always wear insoles to prevent foot problems. You can also read my guide to the best shoes for factory work. In this guide, I outline the most comfortable safety shoes to provide protection and comfort for your feet.