If the Work Shoe Fits…

Each year, millions of workdays are lost due to injury. But did you know that the amount of work days lost due to pain and discomfort are almost double those lost due to injury? That’s right, twice as many workdays are lost due to pain and discomfort than there are due to an accident. And those lost workdays are lost paydays.

You may think that pain in your feet, knees or back is just “part of the job.” But that’s not true. Most pain and discomfort can be traced to wearing the wrong type of shoe for the job or more often wearing the wrong sizeof shoe.

The right fit on the job gives you 4 big benefits:

  1. The right fit ensures that all of the support and cushioning technology of the shoe or boot are aligned at the proper place. So you get the benefit of the comfort and protection the shoe provides.
  2. If you’re in the right fit, the boot does the work for you. Since you are not wasting energy moving the shoe or boot, you have more energy for your job.
  3. The shoe or boot just lasts longer. An improper fit will stress the leathers and cause it to wear out prematurely.
  4. The foot stays healthy. Remember, many foot issues can be traced back to having the wrong fit or wearing the wrong size.

Did you know that 80% of workers are wearing the wrong size shoe? The fact is that your foot will grow from 1 to 2 sizes in length after you graduate high school – and that’s not just from losing that high school or college body.  But most people never take the time to get measured and fit property. You might be one of them, saying “I’m a size 10. I’ve been a 10 since high school.” But the truth is, you’re probably not.

50% of people wearing a wide boot don’t actually need a wide. They need a longer boot. People often go wider in the size to make their foot fit inside. But if they just went a bit longer, they would find they don’t need a wide at all. And they would see a dramatic improvement in comfort. The “flattening out” we see in feet over time is often times due to this mistake.

This is because we get stuck on a number. No manufacturer marks their sizes the same or even makes them the same. There is no industry standard in safety shoes for sizing – except for the gradients between sizes.  So you may be a 10 in one boot and an 11 in another. Size matters for sure. But fit matters more.

So how do you know if you have the right fit? Let me give you 2 tips to guide you: 

First, the most important part of fitting a safety shoe is to make sure the widest part of the foot is in the widest part of the shoe. The ball of your foot is the place to start. Make sure that the ball of your foot is aligned with the widest part of the shoe. If it is, then you have the right fit.

The right fit is important because the shoes are actually designed to flex and move with the foot and not the other way around. A shoe or boot that is too short requires the wearer to move the shoe. But when the shoe is fit properly, the heel naturally lifts for you requiring no energy from you to move it – energy you can use to get through those long shifts.

Making sure you have the widest part of your foot in the widest part of your shoes allows the shoe to do the work for you – as it was designed.

Second, since it is a brand new boot, make sure there is a little movement in the heel. This lets you know that the boot or shoe is not too short or small for your foot. Some people would tell you that the heel is to be tight or snug, but the truth is if it is too tight in the heel, you will increase heat and abrasion. And both of these produce fatigue in your body.

A little movement is all you want. Not so much that you feel like the boot is unstable or you will step out of it. Just enough to let the boot do the work. This also ensures that there is air around the foot and the foot is able to breathe. The hotter the foot gets, the slower the circulation in the foot and the faster the foot fatigues.

Don’t believe the myths. Your feet don’t have to hurt in a safety shoe. Wider is not always better. If you have pain or discomfort on the job in your feet knees or back (and 76% of you report you do) then check your fit. Don’t be stuck on a number. Your feet are the foundation of your body. Give your body a firm foundation. And that starts with the right fit.

 

About the Author:

Matthew Hudson, PhD is the CXO (Chief Experience Officer) of Work Wear Safety Shoes based in Fort Worth, Texas. He is the author of several books on retail and two training certifications on proper fit in footwear.

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