If you have been to industrial areas, I know you have come across workers with heavy boots on. That type of footwear is what is referred to as metatarsal boots. They are frequent in these types of work environments because they are designed to keep the metatarsals and toes safe from any forms of injuries common in such places. Actually, that’s the whole idea from which these boots derive the name.
To those struggling to comprehend what metatarsals could be, these are the long convex bones that form the foot’s arch area. With your feet properly covered, it will be unlikely of you to experience any crushing-related foot injuries, irrespective of the industry from which you work. These shoes come in different constructions and we have those made from steel, full-grain leather, and fiberglass.
These are the ideal materials because they give the boots the ability to withstand any extreme conditions. For the outer-soles, most manufacturers use rubber to provide maximum friction because of their anti-slip nature. Rubber also makes them good shock absorbers. In this article, we will walk you through all the other basics of metatarsal boots, including their uses and key features.
When should I use metatarsal boots?
When it comes to footwear, every different occasion requires you to have the appropriate shoes on. Failure to do so is known to be the leading cause of foot injuries, whether indoors or outdoors. The whole idea of metatarsal boots being recognized as safety boots is too general, and so there’s a need to know exactly when to use the boots. Here’s a breakdown of the areas that call for these boots:
1. When Mining.
Every workplace needs the right safety boots and mining is not an exemption. Have you ever wondered what could possibly be the best footwear for mining? Well, there are quite a number of options that are available, but my best pick for you is metatarsal boots. Other people may still feel comfortable mining in regular safety boots, and so the comfort also depends on how well you understand the needs of your feet.
However, being a highly risky working environment, you have to look for more than just comfort in work boots. Sometimes miners have to go deeper into the ground while in the line of duty and in such cases, all your attention will naturally shift from everything else to focus on whatever it is that you’re doing.
So, one might even need to make certain compromises on whatever falls on the feet in the name of not making mistakes. This can only be safer if you have invested in metatarsal boots because all you have to do is focus on your work and let the boots do the protection for you.
2. At the construction site.
The areas that fall in this category are the high-stress sites, like commercial buildings. For such sites, you’ll need those boots with extra padding on the top to cover you from the high intensity of construction materials that often fall.
When looking for the perfect pair of boots for you, go for those that look thicker than the rest. These areas are also frequented by water spillage, which might get you uncomfortable, but with the water-proof materials used for making metatarsal boots, you won’t have to worry about getting your feet wet.
3. When welding.
Many times I do see a lot of people welding with their feet exposed and I’m always left wondering if they really have an idea of the danger they are subjecting themselves to. Hot sparks from the welding machine don’t even know the right place they should land on, and your feet being the one closer to the ground will definitely take in every single one of those.
The reason why you should have your metatarsal boots on is that the leather material used on them will shield you from such, with the boots still journeying with you a little longer than other materials. Apart from the slag and sparks, there’re more hazards that these boots will keep you protected from, like sharp cut-off materials and falling steel. For regular welders, you should go for steel-toed metatarsal boots for maximum protection.
4. Factory works.
At the factories, like the manufacturing sectors, there might be minimal work intensities involved, but still, you have to protect your metatarsals. Here, there is a wide range of risks involved, from chemicals, water spillage, slippery floors, and falling tools. When looking for maximum protection, you should also consider how comfortable the boots will be on your feet, depending on how long you spend working.
Going for heavily padded boots are relatively effective and all that, but they might also leave you quite exhausted, which can directly or indirectly cause injuries. Therefore to be safe, choose from those brands with aluminium toes. They’re lightweight, and still, offer just the right amount of metatarsal protection.
5. When fire fighting.
This is one of the most dangerous activities that you can ever find yourself in. This is because your feet will be exposed to flames, water and other chemicals used in fire fighting. That being said, it’s evident that you can’t go all-in with your regular shoes or boots.
This will limit you in terms of how far you can go in rescuing lives or saving property, or rather, you’ll be left with an option of risking feet injuries to achieve the aforementioned. However, when you have metatarsal boots on, you will end up saving everything, including your feet from securing any burns.
As a fire-fighter, you’ll need relatively lightweight options for the boots, because you need all the flexibility that you can get in order to accommodate the swift and multiple movements involved in the whole process. This is also where the rubber-soles for the metatarsal boots come-in handy.
What to look for in metatarsal boots
1. Toe area
Metatarsal boots come in two varieties’; those with aluminium toes and those made with steel. The differences between the two is often felt on the weight, with aluminium-toed boots being lightweight than the latter. This has a role to play in also protecting the toes, depending on the intensity of your tools of work and also how long you spend standing or moving with the boots on.
Another bonus for these types of toe areas is that if anything happens to fall on your feet, the pressure will be absorbed by the steel or aluminium, minimising the chances of it landing on your metatarsals.
2. Inner padding
Inner cushioning also has a role in determining how comfortable the boots feel. In addition to that, most boots are designed with water-resistant lining, which is what really makes them waterproof. So this is also an area to focus on.
With this, your feet will always stay cool and dry, with minimal chances of foot odour. Still on padding, I also love my metatarsal boots with an additional padding at the opening and I think you should try them too. It provides additional comfort by minimizing rubbings between the boot-material and the skin.
When we take a look at the areas for using metatarsal boots that we highlighted earlier, we all see that sturdiness is a key feature. Boots with less-sturdy soles often play a key role in work related injuries.
This is why most manufacturers opt for rubber soles, to help keep you on your feet, especially if your work environment is characterised by slippery floors. This could be as a result of oily surfaces, or water spillage. Therefore to be safe, insist on boots with soles made from this material.
A good metatarsal boot should be versatile enough to keep your feet safe from a wide number of dangers. This will get you covered in difference occasions, so you don’t have to buy different boots for every type of danger that you might be facing. As we have seen, quality metatarsal boots are made with leather and even with a little bit steel or aluminium enforcement.
I usually pick on leather because it’s not only durable but also helps keep your feet safe at all times. A decent a material will also give you a decent product, something that you can comfortably wear even when you’re on your way from work. Such brands might seem costly, but when it’s your safety involved, then such are investments worth every single penny.
Away from everything else, size is the most important thing to take into consideration. In footwear, you have to pay attention to how comfortable your foot feels in the shoe, all which translates back to the size.
All you have to do is measure your feet, both in length and width and compare it with the shoe-size chart provided to know which size would fit you perfectly. When compared to regular boots, metatarsal boots are slightly heavier, and that should be enough pressure to the feet. Hence, stay away from smaller or bigger boots when shopping for a pair or two.
These boots are often reliable when it comes to protecting the whole foot, but still there are precautions that you need to take, in order to avoid unnecessary foot injuries. To kick this off, you have to remember that this category of footwear is not properly aerated. Therefore, if you wear boots throughout the day, or the week, you need to find time to take a break from the same and let your feet breath. Failure to do so will have your feet-nerves stressed up and often causes foot or shoe odour.
Socks are important accessories to these boots because they help prevent unnecessary frictions which might leave you with blisters. At the same time, you should also invest in moisture wicking socks, especially when the temperatures are relatively higher, in order to keep your feet dry and comfortable at all times.
All in all, metatarsal boots are the best choice of footwear when you’re looking for something to keep your feet safe from injuries; something that will not hinder you from fulfilling your normal daily operations. If you need some of the best options available, you can choose from here