Before millions of Americans go to work each day, they lace up their steel toe boots to protect their feet from serious injuries that can occur on the job. But while steel toe boots are safe, they’re not always comfortable.
Fortunately, there are some easy hacks to make those heavy work boots a little more comfortable so you don’t come home with sore, aching feet at the end of a long day’s work. In this article, we’ll share some tips to make your steel toe boots more comfortable.
What Are Steel Toe Boots?
Steel toe boots are commonly worn by workers in warehouses, construction and industrial sites, and manufacturing facilities. They’re durable and rugged and come equipped with a steel capping over the top of the shoe that protects the feet from heavy machinery and falling objects. Although traditionally manufactured with a steel top, the reinforcement can be made of aluminum or thermoplastic polyurethane.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OHSA) requires that work safety boots such as steel toe boots be worn in several industries that present potential hazards to feet.
How to Make Steel-Toe Boots More Comfortable
Who doesn’t love taking off their shoes after a long day, especially if you wear heavy, uncomfortable steel toe boots daily? It may seem like you’re walking on feathers once they’re removed.
But taking them off doesn’t mean the foot pain goes away, especially if you’re suffering from blisters, chafing, or other types of foot pain. With that in mind, here are some simple tips to help make your steel toe boots more comfortable.
Find the Right Shoes
The first step in creating a more comfortable pair of steel toe boots is buying the right pair in the first place. Although many Americans exclusively shop online, consider buying your steel toe work shoes at the store. That way, you can try on a variety of makes and even sizes to ensure you find the most comfortable pair for your feet.
To ensure the best fit possible, wear a pair of socks that you would normally wear to work with your steel toe boots. When trying on the shoes, check that the width, length, and instep of the foot fits snugly and comfortably inside. You should have enough room to move your toes without rubbing against the upper part of the boot.
Some other tips to include when shopping around for steel toe boots include:
Steel toe work boots weigh an average of 2 to 3 pounds but can weigh as much as 4.5 pounds. If there isn’t a particular reason to buy an extra-heavy pair of boots, consider buying a more lightweight model. In regards to height, work boots range in height from 6 to 10 inches. Higher boots provide more support for your ankles and knees but aren’t as comfortable. They are ideal for people who work with heavy machinery on a day-to-day basis. Consider the industry you work in and your specific needs when determining a correct height.
Steel toe boots either come in slip-on or lace-up styles. Although it may be convenient to quickly slip on your work boots each morning before you head off to work, that’s really the only benefit. Many experts recommend only buying work boots with laces because they offer more support and adjust to the size and shape of your feet over time. Because lace-up styles do not truly fit the exact shape of your feet, they can cause more foot pain, which is what you’re trying to avoid. Laces allow you to tighten the boot when needed if you’re dealing with foot or ankle pain or an injury.
Choose a Durable Boot
There are hundreds of different options when shopping for steel toe work boots. Unfortunately, the cheapest models are usually the most uncomfortable, often due to a lack of durability. They also tend to break apart easily, which doesn’t give your foot the protection it needs. This can lead to moisture entering the boot and causing injuries such as blisters. Do your homework and only buy durable steel toe boots.
Speaking of moisture, there’s nothing worse than having wet feet, especially on the job. It’s obviously uncomfortable, but, more importantly, it can cause your feet to develop blisters and fungal infections that may need medical treatment. Look for steel toe boots that are waterproof to protect your feet from the damaging effects of moisture.
You can also increase the comfort of your steel toe boots by adding insoles to the inside of your boots. This extra padding can provide the extra cushion you need to make your steel toe boots more comfortable. Most steel toe boots don’t come with this extra arch support. Since insoles can be thick, consider bringing a couple of different models to the store when you’re shopping for steel toe boots. This can help you decide the appropriate thickness of the insole. You may also decide that a heel or toe pad, or both, is a more comfortable option than an insole.
Choose the Right Socks
Like any formidable duo such as Batman and Robin, a good pair of steel toe boots isn’t complete without the right pair of socks to accompany them. Consider wearing thicker socks with your steel toe boots to absorb the pressure the feet exert. Look for specially made work socks that have extra padding on the bottom to help relieve some of the pain your feet may feel at the end of a workday.
The materials your socks are manufactured with also matter. Cotton is a tried and true material for work socks because it’s a durable, breathable, and lightweight material. Cotton socks can absorb more moisture during a workday, so look for work socks that have moisture-wicking materials blended into them.
Break In Your Steel Toe Boots
It can take a while for you to properly break in to steel toe work boots. It’s a good idea to break your boots in at home before you wear them to work for the first time. This allows the boot to expand slightly and gives your feet more time to acclimate to the material.
A few easy hacks to help expedite the break-in process include:
How to Maintain Your Work Boots
Steel toe work boots can be expensive to buy, so it only makes sense to take good care of them so they’ll last as long as possible. Boots that aren’t properly cared for can become overly worn, which can cause your feet to become uncomfortable.
Conditioning the Boots
It’s recommended to use a conditioner on your work boots about once a month to keep them hydrated and prevent cracking which can shorten their lifespan.
This is a pretty simple task that involves a dry rag and a conditioner specifically designed for leather work boots. First, use a dry rag to remove any dust or dirt that has accumulated on the boots. This should be a daily chore when you return home from work each day.
Next, apply the conditioner to the work boots and use a rag to work in the product in a circular motion. You may need to repeat the process if the boots are excessively dry. Wait 12 hours, and rub the boots with a dry rag before using them again.
Waterproofing the Boots
Although most steel toe work boots are water-resistant, it’s not a bad idea to periodically apply a water-proofing agent to the surface, especially if your boots are older and have lost some of their water-resistant capabilities.
Waterproofing boots are similar to the steps involved in conditioning them, except you’ll use a waterproofing agent. Wet your boots and then apply the agent in circular motions using a cloth. Wipe off any excess agent after a few minutes and let them dry. You can lightly brush the boots to restore the original color evenly across the surface.
If you work in an industry that requires the use of steel toe work boots, we understand that you want to find a pair that is not only safe but also comfortable. There’s nothing worse than standing on your feet for 8 to 10 hours a day with throbbing feet due to uncomfortable steel toe boots. Make sure you take your time when shopping for steel toe work boots to find a pair that fits your individual needs. Be sure to work them in properly and maintain them so they last as long as possible. Your feet will thank you for it.