Steel toe work boots are an absolute must when it comes to safety but they can be less flexible than other types of footwear leading in some cases to discomfort and foot pain. Knowing how to stop steel-toe boots from hurting your feet is therefore crucial so that you can wear your safety footwear without suffering.
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Why Do Your Feet Hurt When You Wear Steel Toe Boots?
Steel toe boots can hurt either for a number of different reasons. Generally, the discomfort is linked to these common problems:
- You have bought ill-fitting boots
- You haven’t taken the time to break in your boots properly
- The boots are not laced correctly
- The interior of your boots has areas that rub
- The interior of your boots needs adjusting to accommodate your feet or toes
Our tips are going to help you to stop steel toe boots from hurting by helping you to identify what you need to change to enable you to wear your footwear with ease.
How Can You Make Steel Toe Boots More Comfortable?
In order to help you learn how to stop steel-toe boots from hurting and make them more comfortable, we’ll talk about some of the common problems that you are likely to experience with them and what you can do to resolve them.
The key to making your boots fit properly is to address the underlying problems. In some cases, this may involve purchasing a different make of boots but in others, it may be possible to change the inserts, add some padding or soften the boots to make a difference.
We always suggest you look at the areas of the foot which are experiencing the problem first and try a quick fix first as that is always the cheaper option. Sometimes a simple solution can work really well and cost very little.
In other cases, you may have no alternative but to buy a different brand of steel-toe work boots. Whilst this costs more you need boots that not only are safety shoes but comfortable as well. There is no point in continuing to try and wear uncomfortable boots because if they are hurting that can cause other problems such as foot deformities or infections.
Buying The Right Work Safety Footwear
To avoid foot pain from your work boots it makes sense to take some time trying on a number of pairs to get the most comfortable fit. Do not rush this as you will be wearing them all day every day for months so the fit has to be right.
To make sure you do this right the first time think about doing some of the following:
- Do your boot shopping in the afternoon. Your feet will swell as the day progresses which means that when you trying on boots later on your feet will have expanded to their largest size.
- Check the width and length is perfect for your foot size. Make sure that your toes are not cramped and touching the front of the boot. Ensure that you have enough rooms for your feet to spread out in the boot so they aren’t rubbing the sides. Your index finger generally should fit exactly down the back of your shoe.
- Buy a pair of work boots with laces. Laced boots allow you to adjust the tightness of the boot which slip-ons don’t do.
- Buy breathable boots. Breathable steel toe boots allow moisture to escape keeping your feet dry and sweat-free. Sweaty feet can cause friction and rubbing which leads to painful blisters.
- Check the room inside the shoe. Remember that as well as the length and width of your shoe you need to have room for your foot to be comfortable. If it sits too high or low in the shoe it can cause problems. Also, check for arch support if you need it.
- Check for flexibility. Even though you are going to be wearing safety shoes or boots they still need a certain amount of flexibility for walking. If they are too rigid or stiff they are going to hurt.
Choosing a good all-rounder when buying a new pair of boots can make all the difference such as Timberland Men’s Pit Boss 6 Inch Safety Toe Work Boots. These have thousands of positive reviews from satisfied customers who know that they are comfortable but also durable.
Even if you have bought the best brand of steel toe caps on the market it always make sense to break in your boots first. Never get the boots straight out of the box and expect to wear them for 8 to 10 hours immediately.
Most boots and shoes need a little wearing in before you use them. So start by wearing them around your home for short periods at first and then start building up the length of time that you are wearing them for.
Think about wearing thick socks when you are breaking in your boots as that can help to stretch the leather slightly. Some people actually wear two pairs of socks not just to help stretch the boot but to prevent friction as well.
Softening the leather with leather conditioner can also help.
Softening Leather Work Boots
New boots can often be stiff and the leather inflexible. Of course, as you start to wear your boots they will start to soften and mold to your foot shape making them feel more comfortable.
The problem is that this wearing in can often take a little time and in the interim you may find that your work boots are rubbing your toe area, chafing your feet, or hurting your ankles. Softening the leather work boots can speed up this process and save your feet from suffering in the short term.
There are plenty of ways to soften leather as you can see in our post How to Soften Shoes that Hurt. The simplest ways are to use a leather conditioner, use rubbing alcohol, or use shoe and boot stretchers to help stretch pinch points.
Follow the advice in our other post and you should find plenty of ways to make your steel-toe cap boots hurt less.
Padding For Steel Toe Boots
When someone is experiencing blisters, rubbing, or pain from wearing boots it typically happens in a few key areas. On the toes, the heel the top of the foot, and the ball of the foot.
The key to resolving the problem with the boots is to assess the area which has the issue and think about putting padding in the shoe or on the foot to stop the friction.
There are loads of options that you can use for padding and one of the most popular is moleskin pads. These come in all shapes and sizes and can even be cut to the shape you want and stuck to the toe area, heel, or even the insides of your boots.
Dr Scholls moleskin padding is usually robust enough to solve the problem and create a fast pain relief solution.
Thick Socks Can Help
When safety boots are rubbing or hurting you could consider some of the simplest options first and that is to wear a thick pair of socks when wearing the boot to see if that can help.
Thick socks can help as they cushion parts of your foot from the leather and insole and so they act as a barrier of protection.
Just make sure that you have enough room inside your boots so that they are wearable otherwise they can contribute to further pain or discomfort.
Remember to buy breathable socks only as they can help to eliminate moisture hanging around inside the boot which causes friction and blisters. These Wetsox are great work socks and are perfect for inside leather boots.
How to Prevent Blisters From Steel Toe Boots By Wearing Laced Footwear
We mentioned earlier that buying a steel toe cap boot with laces is better than one where your foot just slips inside. This is because laces help to hold your feet in place inside your boots.
Shoe laces make sense because they enable you to tighten or loosen them so that your boots fit snugly to your feet without being excessively tight or loose.
Slip-on safety boots don’t give you this control which means your feet can be more prone to moving around and that causes problems.
Steel Toe Boots Hurt Top of Foot Use Tongue Pads
An often forgotten area of the foot where problems occur is the top of your foot. This can either be because the insole of your shoe is the wrong shape pushing your feet to the top of your boot or because the tongue is rubbing.
We’ll talk about how to resolve insole problems next but there is also a simple solution for the issues with the tongue of the shoe causing problems.
Buy a shoe tongue pad and simply slip it or stick it in the problem area and it should cushion the top of your foot whilst you are wearing the boot. These are relatively inexpensive and offer a simple solution to an annoying problem.
Foot Pain From Steel Toe Boots Due to Insoles
Most steel-toe boots are going to come with an insole that is already inside the boot. Sometimes that insole will cause you no problems but sometimes it can be the source of your foot pain.
Firstly you need to consider whether your boots are giving you adequate support where you need it. If you have flat feet you may need extra arch support in order to support your foot.
Rockrooster Edgewood Work Boots might be more suitable for you if this is the case because they have added arch support that helps to cushion your foot and help with shock absorption.
Sometimes the problem isn’t the support from the insole but the fact that it doesn’t quite suit the shape of your foot or it sits too high inside your boot causing your toes or the top of your foot to rub inside the shoe.
If you have removable inserts this problem can usually be easily solved by buying an alternative insole that gives you the extra room you need.
If the insert is not high enough and causing too much movement inside your steel-toed boots look for a thicker insert or orthotic that can help to stabilize your foot.
Wearing Steel Toe Boots Everyday Means Thinking About The Toe Box
When you are trying on new steel toe boots at the shoe store you need to pay particular attention to the toe box area. Steel toe boxes are harder and more inflexible than standard boot materials which means that you need to think about your toes and where they are in relation to the design of your boot.
Does your big toe have enough room or is it hitting the front of your boot? Does your little toe feel as if it is rubbing the side of the boot making it feel snug or too tight?
Are there any inside seams or joins that could aggravate your feet when you are wearing the safety boots?
If there are any problem areas it makes sense to think about using padding or band-aids on your toes to protect them where possible. Usually, once you have worn your work boots for a while the problem should start to go away unless you have bought footwear that is too small.
Learning how to stop steel-toe boots from hurting doesn’t always have to be difficult as our tips show. You just need to spend a little time investigating where the problems lie and apply some of our quick fixes to make a difference.
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