Safety Boots – Help or Hurt?

OH my SAFETY BOOTS are killing me, but they are top of the line !

The majority of workplace safety boots and shoe knowledge I have learned from ladies in high heels, stop laughing its true think about it!

The majority of new boots will not perfectly fit your feet straight out of the box, but you can get the perfect fit by following a few best practices.

On a job site, everyone seems to swear by their own technique to break in new work boots. We’ve heard everything from wearing new boots in the shower to baking them in an oven.

According to foot specialists (podiatrists and chiropodists), people usually seek help when their foot pain is so bothersome that it affects their lifestyle or work.

Our feet are often swaddled in socks and shoes, especially during the winter months, so we tend to ignore them. When foot pain does occur, we expect it will be temporary.

The foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, so there’s a lot that can go wrong. But when it comes to heel pain, there is usually one culprit: plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis happens when the connective tissue within the arch of the foot—the plantar fascia—becomes painfully inflamed.

“When you stand on your foot and the arch drops down, it stretches it,”. “And where it attaches onto the heel bone it causes micro-tears. So the plantar fascia is being pulled against the bone and that sets up an inflammatory process.”

Plantar fasciitis is a type of repetitive strain injury, one that is common with people who do a lot of walking or standing for long periods of time. Shop workers, factory workers and athletes are particularly susceptible to this condition.

If you have plantar fasciitis you might want to try putting your foot on a bag of frozen peas to take the swelling down. Another home remedy is to take a golf ball or tennis ball and roll your foot on it to massage the arch of your foot.

Pain in the ball of the foot ( metatarsalgia) is often caused by excess pressure on this part of the foot, and footwear is often to blame. High heel shoes are the chief culprit. They tip the bodyweight onto a small area of the foot and, to make matters worse, they constrict the front of the foot so the weight can’t spread evenly over the ball of the foot.

Metatarsalgia is also quite common among athletes as it can be caused by high impact of the foot. “Sports people who have pain in the ball of the foot often, tend to rotate their foot in the push-off phase when running,”. “Often, what we’ll see on the bottom of the shoe are little swirl patterns and that rotational element will start to compress the nerves through the metatarsal heads.”

And not forgetting the toes

Toes can also be painful when the big toe joints stiffen or start to form a bunion (a protruding nub at the base of the big toe). “If you can get a support into the foot sooner rather than later it can be really beneficial to stop the progression of that,” says Mr Papworth.

“If the foot is pronating—rolling in too much—it affects the function of the big toe joint — it’s not able to bend as effectively as it should do. And if you put pressure on the other side of your foot, then the big toe joint will gradually stiffen over time if it’s not being used.”

If this happens to your big toe, you might get a bunion or a nodule forming on the top of the joint, and it can be quite painful.

Lesser toes—any toe that isn’t the big toe—are also susceptible to becoming bent out of shape. Common lesser toe conditions are claw toes, hammer toes, and mallet toes. Because the toe is not lying flat in the shoe, it rubs against the inside of the shoe and forms calluses, corns and blisters, which can be very painful.

Toe deformities aren’t always preventable—our genes are often to blame — but good foot care can stop the problem from becoming worse.

If you’re searching for the most comfortable work boot you can find, check out the tips below:

The Fit. If you want comfortable working boots, it starts with the fit. Everyone’s feet are different, so make sure your work boots fit your feet.

Cushioning. Standing on your feet all day? A cushiony midsole and insole will help to soften the weight of gravity on your feet. Thick socks help with this. too

Weight. High tops tend to be heavier than low tops. If you’re doing a lot of running on the job, you’ll be able to run more comfortably in athletic low tops.

Waterproofing. There’s nothing comfortable about wet feet. Look for boots with a gusseted tongue to prevent both water and debris from getting inside your boots

Comfort may seem like a luxury, but if you actually feel uncomfortable, it means your body is trying to tell you something. A pair of boots that leaves your feet aching after kicking them off could possibly be damaging your feet. And, in a worst case scenario, it means this pain can be a possible source of health problems down the road. There’s a laundry list of health problems that can be caused by improper footwear, from chronic back complications to painful corns.

Put simply: yes.

Although leather is durable, it has its limits. Do you want your boots to fit snug at work? Do you want to prevent the leather from warping before you even lace them up? Check out these dos and don’ts for breaking in new work boots:

Do: Test The Fit

Before you begin to break in a new pair of boots, make sure the boots really fit. Don’t settle on a pair that didn’t fit snug in the first place.

When trying your new work or army boots on for the first time, there are a couple of key points to look for in determining whether or not it’s a good fit. Remember, you want your boots to be snug but comfortable:

Behind the heel. Before you lace up, push your foot up towards the front of the boot so your toes touch the upper-most part. One finger should be able to fit comfortably behind the heel.

Room in the toes. After lacing up and standing tall, your toes should have just enough room to wiggle. Don’t suffer for fashion like women’s high heels, these work and law enforcement boots are for working safe and comfortably – your toes should not be cramped.

Heel movement. Rock your boot up and down, wiggle your ankles, and do anything else necessary to test movement in the boot. Your heel should stay perfectly secured, never lifting or sliding during movement.

Ankle support. Lean from side to side – your boots should feel flexible and not resist these motions. If your ankle becomes uncomfortable, the boot is not providing you with proper support.

Don’t: Ignore Pinches and Hot Spots

Every boot model runs different in size, depending on design and manufacturer. Pay careful attention to pinches, hot spots, and any other uncomfortable areas when wearing a new pair of boots.

In all likelihood, these pains won’t go away so easily. When you break in leather work boots, you’re stretching the boot around your foot. A sharp pain caused by the boot design is not likely to disappear, so always get a work boot with a great warranty.

Do: Walk Around At Home

Looking to break in work boots fast? Breaking in a new work boot takes time and patience. If you rush the process with home techniques involving extreme water and heat, you risk permanently damaging them.

Instead, lace up your work boots at home. Walk, sit, and do whatever else you might do normally at home with your new work boots on. Start with just 10 minutes a day, and gradually increase the amount of time you spend wearing them. Wearing a pair of non-broken in work boots for a full shift at work can be a very uncomfortable experience. Trust us: if you spend a little time breaking them in, you won’t regret it in the long run.

Don’t: Submerge Boots in Water

Anyone who has asked for advice about breaking boots in has heard some form of this trick. Some say to fully submerge a boot in water. Others will tell you to only fill the boot up to the eyelets. And then there are the people that tell you to saturate new work boots with water and walk around in soggy boots for a day.

Don’t like the sound of your feet sloshing around in waterlogged boots? Neither do your boots! Leather can only handle a certain amount of moisture. After that breaking point, the leather will warp and the original shape will be lost. It’s a gamble at best. You could end up breaking your work boots in quickly or making them unwearable.

Do: Apply Leather Conditioner

What’s the best way to take care of dry, cracking skin? Moisturizer. Since leather is animal skin, the exact same rule applies. If you’re looking to quickly break in work boots, consider picking up a leather conditioner. Conditioners come in creams, oils, liquids, and they will hydrate the leather surfaces of your boots.

When leather is moistened, it bends and moves easier. That’s exactly how the “waterlog your leather boots to break them in quickly” myth originated. Instead of over-saturating the leather, a conditioner will gently moisten the material, allowing it to more easily conform to the shape of your foot.

Don’t: Apply Direct Heat

This is another common myth. Some people suggest baking new boots in an oven, and others say to blast the leather with a hairdryer. No matter how you cut it, applying direct heat to any leather surface is a bad idea.

Why? Heat equals dried out skin. If you apply direct heat to leather, you risk drying the leather out. It’s possible to even crack the leather surface and completely ruin a new pair of boots.

Do: Take Your Boots to Work

Once you’ve spent some time in your boots at home, it’s time to take them to work. Make sure to pay close attention to how they feel at this point. If your boots don’t feel snug and secure after the initial break-in-at-home period, it might be time to take advantage of that warranty.

If you feel like your boots are beginning to conform to your feet, take them for a full shift at work. Through use, the leather will continue to mold to your feet and become more and more comfortable. Boots with good, padded insoles will increase the comfort factor too.

Don’t: Kick Leather Boots Off When You Get Home

When you get home after a long day of work, it can be really tempting to kick off your work boots at the heel. However, this action repeated every day can damage the heel.

Key Points to Take Home

Breaking in your work boots is very important if you want your boots to fit right and last multiple seasons. Remember, many common shortcuts for breaking in boots can lead to ruined leather. DO Make sure any new boot you might buy has a warranty

DO Start breaking in boots by wearing them at home

DO Increase the time you spend wearing them before bringing your work boots to a job site

DON’T Take shortcuts like soaking your boots in water or placing them in front of a heat source


(Originally Senior OH&S and Env. & Reg., Professional, Presenter, Motivational Safety Speaker and Safety Program Development.