If you work in safety shoes all day, you probably stand or walk on your feet for long hours in the day. To keep your feet comfortable and pain free by the end of the day, here are some tips to get you through!
Look for a shoe that fits in the length and the width. A proper fitting shoe will prevent excessive pressure on specific areas of the foot, such as the sides of the foot and at the toes.
The proper fit is especially important in safety shoes because of the narrowing at the toe due to the steel toe. The steel toe is not forgiving when there is a small pressure point, causing a large irritation for a smaller area.
Take the insole out and stand on it. If there is any part of the foot hanging over, it is too narrow. It is especially important to look at the toes! If there is too much room along the sides, the shoe is too wide. Look at the shape of the insole and the shape of your foot. Make sure that they match up. When trying on the safety shoe, wear the type of socks you will be wearing at work. Thickness of socks is an important factor here because they can change how the boot fits at the front.
A shoe suited for the work
Work on wet or slippery floors need a shoe that is slip resistant and possibly water resistant. The style of shoe needs to fit in with the work environment. A higher boot may be necessary if the environment calls for it, such preventing liquids from entering in your boot. A higher boot will not prevent you from rolling an ankle, but it may help remind you to readjust if your foot is on a slight angle.
Some work boots do not afford enough grip in winter on ice and a person may slip on icy surfaces. Steel toed work boots are colder in the winter and hotter in the summer. Having a composite toed boot may be more comfortable in extreme seasons.
Most safety shoes will have a rocker sole. A rocker sole is a curved sole at the toe to help when pushing off the back leg. If a larger rocker sole is needed for a specific condition, it can be added to the existing work boot.
A rocker sole can also be added to the heel when necessary. This becomes helpful to reduce stress when the heel contacts the floor for conditions such as ankle arthritis.
Add support when necessary
Because of the features required to make a safety shoe safe, it can lack in support and cushioning. A custom foot orthotic or over the counter insert may be necessary to prevent pain from foot mechanics or lack of shock absorption.
Replace when needed
When your safety shoes wear out over time, it can affect your comfort as well as safety. When the shoe wears out, it doesn’t absorb as much shock, which can cause pain in joints and other structures. A worn-out shoe can also exaggerate motions in your foot. The shoe can push your foot one way or the other and create stress and strain to your foot and leg structures. When working in environments with oils and other liquids, the boot can absorb this over time and become heavy. A heavier boot can tire you out more quickly.
The shoe can also loose its grip, causing a smooth surface, and increasing the likelihood of a slip and fall.
Be aware that your safety shoes may not last as long as your everyday shoes. You may walk many more kilometers and bend the shoe many more times than your everyday shoe.
If you need more information about getting shoes that will work for you if you are on your feet all day, consult your local Canadian Certified Pedorthist.
Written by Jim Pattison, C. Ped (C)