When you work on a job site, staying safe is always your top priority. And one of the most obvious parts to protect is your feet, no matter where you work, such as woodworking, metalwork, construction site, etc. In this case, most people tend to choose steel toe work boots because of their excellent protection ability.
These types of work boots come in thick soles, steel toe caps, and safety requirements to keep your feet safe from injuries and hazardous conditions at work. Nevertheless, due to the bulky steel toe construction, they are usually uncomfortable to wear for extended hours or all day.
Therefore, it is important to know how to make work boots more comfortable. As a result, you can protect your feet from the risk of injuries while staying squishy. There are different ways to deal with this, including:
- Buy a rightly fit pair of steel toe boots
- Break-in your steel toe boots
- Remove and repair the steel toe cap
- Wear proper steel toe socks
- Use soft insoles
- Take good care of your steel towel boots
- Use a bandage
Let’s have a closer look at each method.
Tip #1: Buy a rightly fit pair of steel toe boots
One of the first steps to ensure your comfort when wearing steel-toe boots is to buy a pair of boots that perfectly fit your feet. You shouldn’t choose models having steel toe caps that are too narrow because they will rub your toes and hurt your feet. Simultaneously, avoid large boots because they will cause a lot of movements, leading to hot spots and blisters.
One thing you should remember is that steel toe boots usually come in a heavy steel toe head and thick steel shank. Their main purpose is to prevent puncture on the bottom of the boots. So, if you buy a pair of steel toe boots with the same measurements as your normal shoes, they might be either too narrow or short for your feet.
So, you should buy models that are slightly larger than the ones you usually wear. If you purchase your steel toe work boots at a local store, make sure that you put the boots on before buying them.
The same applies to the length of the boots. It is recommended to choose the ones that are half or full size longer than normal measurements. This way, it can keep your feet from being rubbed incorrectly.
Tip #2: Break in your steel toe boots
One of the popular reasons causing discomfort when wearing steel toe boots is that you didn’t spend time breaking them in. I know a lot of workers make a common mistake that is wearing their boots right after buying them
Before you wear your steel toe boots all day at the workplace, spend several minutes to an hour each day wearing them at home. This not only makes the boots larger a little bit but also helps your feet get used to their material.
Ways of breaking in steel toe work boots
Below are some common and effective ways to break in new steel toe boots.
Coldwater treatment: This is a great way to extend steel toe work boots. It is very simple to do. Simply pour cold water into a ziplock bag and lock it. Then place the bag inside each boot and leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
During this process, the water will then freeze, expand, and widen the boots. The next morning, take your boots out of the freezer and let the ice melt before taking the bag out.
The stick method: Just place a mop stick or broom into your steel toe boots. Make sure you point the broom towards the place that makes you uncomfortable.
Then, you should flex the boot strongly over the stick so that the leather will expand in the affected section. To tell if your boots are expanded or not, you should notice a slight discoloration on the outside.
Note: When expanding your steel toe boots with this method, avoid overdoing it because it poses a high risk of tearing your safety boots.
The oil method: With this method, you can use either mink oil or any other type of leather conditioner to give your boots a protective coating.
When spreading the oil, make sure that you concentrate on the areas that make you uncomfortable. After that, let the oil stay on the boots overnight. It will soften your boots, which will then make you feel more squishy even when wearing them all day.
Hot water method: This method is very popular in the military. To break in your new steel toe boots, submerge them in a pot of lukewarm water and leave them there for around 30 minutes.
Once the boots are fully immersed with water, remove excess water, and put on your boots for around an hour.
To make your steel toe boots to their full stretch, you can wear them with socks. Don’t forget to waterproof yours to keep them from getting ruined.
When breaking in your new steel toe work boots, you may need to stretch them to ensure maximum comfort. Check out these 8 ways to stretch your steel toe work boots, which include using a stretching spray, wearing thick socks, and using a hairdryer. Properly breaking in your new boots can help to prevent blisters and discomfort while on the job.
Tips to consider when breaking in steel toe boots
- To make breaking in new steel toe boots more easily, you can buy perfectly fit models. Refer to the above hacks to purchase the right ones.
- It is better to buy your work boots a week or so before you start wearing them all day at work. This is because it will give you enough time to break them in.
- If you face any foot issues such as ingrown toenails, long nails, or other problems, then you should not break in your boots because it might hurt your feet.
- Although the above steel toe boot break-in tips can give you results after only one day, it is better to do it gradually. It is recommended to break them in for at least a week. This way, you will not run the risk of ruining your boots. Also, never breaking in your boots under direct heat because they might catch fire.
Tip #3: Take off and fix the steel toe cap
If you have worn your steel toe boots for an extended period, the steel toe head is usually damaged, warped, bent, or even loosed. This is not only uncomfortable to wear but also poses a higher risk of getting hurt. Hence, you should take off the steel toe cap, which will then make your feet more squishy and safe to wear.
Don’t worry because you can completely remove the steel toe cap by yourself, but with the right tools. They include:
- A hammer
- A utility razor
- Shoe or boot glue
If you’re experiencing discomfort from the steel toe cap on your work boots, consider taking it off and replacing it with a new one. Check out this article for tips and ways to wear a tactical belt which could help you to fix your steel toe cap. It might be the solution to getting more comfortable while on the job.
How to remove steel toe cap from work boots
First, use an engraving knife or razor blade to cut the sole of the work boots with a length of 4 inches. Then softly pull the two pieces of the steel toe cap from the boots.
Then, use pliers to grip the lower part of the steel toe, turn it back and forth until the steel toe head detaches.
Place the cap on a smooth and stable surface, and use a hammer to beat the dents. If the lid is too broken, replace it with a new one.
To restore your work boots, use shoe glue and stick it fully over the exterior of the steel toe. Then slide the steel cap back to the shoe and stick them together using the glue. Let the boots dry for several hours before you put them on.
You should be aware that you can completely take the steel toe cap off your work boots. Besides, you must replace it with something in order for the boots to be worn again.
Take extra care when removing steel toe caps because you can easily damage your boots. If the boot cannot be replaced, reconsider continuing with it.
To easily image the process of removing steel toe caps from the boots, watch the following down below:
Tip #4: Wear the right steel toe socks
The steel toe head at the toe area is the main reason causing discomfort when you wear your boots all day. So, if this is your problem, consider investing in a high-quality pair of steel toe socks.
These socks tend to have an added padding in the toe area, thus giving you lots of cushions to walk all day in your work boots comfortably.
In addition, good-quality and thick socks will stop your feet from touching the stiff toe cap, which will significantly reduce blisters. You can easily find these types of socks in online stores or local shoe shops.
Tip #5: Use soft insoles
Because steel toe work boots feature a stiff bottom, usually integrated with a steel shank, the regular included insoles might be too small. That’s why you sometimes feel uncomfortable. If it is the case, consider replacing them with higher-quality insoles.
You can order a new one at an online store or heading to a local shop to buy a new pair of insoles. For the best result, you should purchase models with great arch support.
Insoles with excellent support can even reduce pressure in your feet, thus removing fatigue and pain you may experience when wearing boots all day.
Tip #6: Take good care of your steel toe boots
Proper maintenance is another good way to make your work boots more comfortable to wear. And the easiest way to do it is to clean them regularly. Make a habit of taking off any dirt or mud on the boots as soon as you get home from work.
If you are an ironworker, make sure that your boots are not exposed to the common fire sparks when at your workplace.
If you work in a salty place, use a mild mixture of vinegar and water to remove the corrosive salt.
Another good way to take care of your boots is to condition them. This way, you can not only make your boots look more elegant but also extend their longevity. Since there are a lot of conditioners on the market, you can pick any one that is suitable for your boots.
Tip #7: Use a bandage
In case you are wearing a thick pair of socks in your work boots and still feeling pain, you can consider applying a bandage around your feet. It will provide you with an extra cushion, which then makes you much more comfortable.
Why Do Steel Toe Boots Hurt?
Since the caps of steel toe work boots are made of steel, it will cause much discomfort to your toes when you wear them for a long time. That is just the main reason, and there are a few more reasons why steel toe boots hurt your feet as below:
- Steel toe work boots generally don’t have a wide shape, and as a result, your toes can rub against the steel walls of the steel toe box. This is the main reason causing pain and blisters.
- The shape of steel toe boots might be too small for your feet.
- The arch of your feet might not place directly in the right inside of your boots, causing your feet to move forwards. This, as a result, will cause them to rub against the toe box in different places.
- If your work boots are too loose, they will cause swaying on both sides. On the other hand, too tight ones might make your toes feel pinched inside. All of these reasons will lead to foot pain.
- The steel toe boxes are so heavy that your feet can’t withstand their weight for the whole day and thus cause soreness.
If you’re debating whether to invest in a pair of steel toe work boots, consider these 7 reasons why they’re worth it. With increased protection, durability, and safety features, you’ll have peace of mind on the job site. They’re also good for walking, with shock absorption and cushioning technology to keep your feet comfortable all day long.
How Should Steel Toe Boots Fit?
Getting a rightly fit pair of steel toe boots is a must when it comes to your foot comfort. If you don’t get the right one, you will not reach the wanted comfort level no matter what you do after buying to make them more squishy.
So, don’t rush to buy steel toe boots. Be patient and check several pairs to see which one fits your feet the most. Below are some tips to help you choose a perfect-fit pair of work boots.
- Start with wearing a pair of socks that you will use on your job site. While there is a misconception that cotton socks will be more comfortable, the reality is very dissimilar. Polyester or wool socks tend to give you more comfort. In addition, choose ones with extra cushioning to avoid friction and blisters.
- Next, check the real length of the work boots. You can slide your toes until they reach the front part of the workwear. Then bend your knee slightly forward and see the position of your index finger.
- Make sure your index finger comfortably slips between your heel and the back of your work boots.
- Next, tighten the shoelaces to make sure they fit snuggly. Besides, ensure that it comfortably holds your foot within the insole. Feel if it is too tight to keep your feet in place or not.
- Your work boots should be pliant at the ball of your feet. If you feel the boots flexing at your arch, don’t buy it because it will not give you the proper support when walking.
- If your job site poses a higher level of temperature than average, such as in a metal workplace, your work boots tend to swell because of the heat generation. Therefore, your feet are comfortably seated at the maximum swelling of your boots.
How Do You Stop Steel Toe Boots From Hurting Your Toes?
One of the primary reasons that steel toe boots hurt your toes is due to the lack of arch support. Thus, you can purchase a pair of boots that have enough support for your arch and heel as well. Nevertheless, this might be relevant to the insole quality of the boots.
Having said that, almost all insoles of available work boots don’t provide your arch with adequate support. Hence, it is important to invest in high-end insoles. There are three crucial things you should consider:
- Try to buy insoles that are as robust as possible.
- It is necessary to get an insole that perfectly matches your arch contour. Otherwise, you may end up feeling uncomfortable.
- Finally, your new insoles should be durable enough to last for at least one or two years. This is because when you change the insole too often, it can result in discomfort to your arch and even cost you more.
If you’re experiencing ankle discomfort when wearing steel toe work boots, check out 6 Causes of Ankle Distress from Work Boots for several possible solutions to this common problem. From proper sizing to selecting the right socks, this article covers everything you need to know to keep your ankles happy while on the job.
How To Maintain Steel Toe Boots?
To expand the lifespan of your steel toe boots, you should maintain them regularly. Follow these steps to ensure you get the right maintenance:
- Buying two pairs of work boots instead of getting only one pair. This way, you can wear them alternatively, which will significantly increase their longevity.
- When you get home from the workplace, dry your work boots right away. Since you wear them all day, bacteria can form inside your boots, damaging the leather and texture of your boots. It is better to remove excessive moisture by air-drying your work boots.
- Always clean your boots when they have dirt, debris, or mud on the leather. You can simply use a hard brush to get the job done or refer to the above tips for the purpose.
- To eliminate salt stains on the boots, use a mixture of water and vinegar.
- If your steel toe work boots are made of leather, apply a decent amount of conditioner on them now and then.
Frequently Asked Questions
Making steel toe boots more comfortable might be a problem to all workers who wear them, typically those who first buy this type of footwear. It is not difficult at all, but you need to do it in the right way to prevent unwanted damage. Read the following frequently asked questions to get your answers and also understand more about making your boots more squishy to wear.
Can steel toe boots cause foot issues?
The answer is yes, typically when your steel toe boots don’t rightly fit your feet. If your work boots are either too loose or tight and you wear them for a long period, they can result in lots of foot problems such as blisters, arch fatigue and pain, swelling, sores, etc.
How do I stretch out steel toe boots?
In addition to wearing steel toe boots, you can make them widen in many different ways. For example, you can spread the right amount of conditioner on your boots if they are made of leather. You can also put a broom inside the boots and bend it to expand the boots. Besides, inserting a bag full of water inside the work boots and placing it in the refrigerator overnight is also a good way to stretch your shoes.
Will steel toe boots break in?
Yes, steel toe boots do break in. Refer to the above part to know more about tips to break in your steel toe boots. In addition, you can simply break them in by wearing them at home for several minutes or an hour every day before starting to use them in your workplace.
How long do steel toe boots take to break in?
About 80 to 100 hours
A new pair of steel toe boots can take between 80 to 100 hours to break in. However, that doesn’t mean you have to wear them for 4 days straight and expect that they will become more comfortable to wear. Instead, spend 2 to 3 hours a day wearing them. If possible, you can buy two pairs to change into.
Should I size up for steel toe boots?
If your feet are between sizes, you should size up a half size for your steel toe boots. Ideally, your toes should be able to wiggle comfortably in the toe box. In addition, make sure there is a space between the boot and the base of your heel (your finger should fit that space).
Are steel toe boots bad for your feet?
Many people have the misconception that steel toe boots can cause some foot issues. However, if you get the right fit pair, the possibility of resulting in those problems is very low or almost impossible to happen.
Do steel toes cut your toes off?
No, they don’t. In fact, if an object is heavy enough or the force is strong enough, it might lead to several broken bones. But don’t worry because steel toe boots will not be that serious to your toes. In addition, a thick pair of socks can add an extra cushion to protect your feet.
Can I remove the steel toe cap?
Yes, you can. One of the best ways to get this job done is to use a hammer, pliers, boot glue, and a sharp razor blade. Refer to tip #3 to know the details of the procedure.
Are steel toe boots cold in winter?
In fact, steel toe boots tend to get colder in winter than other types of safety boots, even if they are insulated. However, you can avoid this by keeping your blood circulating and the upper part of your body, like chest and head, warm. In addition, wearing a thick pair of socks can prevent the cold significantly.
Can you buy steel toe inserts?
Every steel toe boot has a standard insert. However, you can completely replace it with a new one if you feel that it no longer functions well. Replacing steel toe inserts is very simple since they all come with instructions when you buy them.
Do steel toe boots work in the snow?
The answer is yes. Steel toe boots are known to be commonly used in construction sites and other industrial fields because of the steel toe safety design. However, they can be used in other environments, including snow, like other types of safety boots. For sure, you should wear a thick pair of socks and consider applying waterproofing products on the exterior of the boot.
Those are all the tips on how to make steel toe boots more comfortable. Depending on your condition, you can apply one or more methods to get the best result. However, always try to get the boots that fit your feet rightly. That might be the most effective way to keep your feet cushy without using any additional method. If you know any other ways, don’t forget to share them in the comment box. Thanks for your reading.