Metatarsal boots are special industrial or workplace boots that can prevent injuries to the feet. You also need ortho metatarsal supportive boots to protect the feet when recovering from toe fractures, foot injuries, or bunion surgeries.
It is estimated that more than 50,000 toe injuries occur at the workplace each year leading to loss of productivity as well as healthcare expenses. These usually occur because workers are not wearing safety boots.
That is why, many industries and workplaces have now made it compulsory to wear high-quality safety work-wear and that includes safety boots with metatarsal support and protection.
Metatarsal work boots are one such type of safety work boots. They can also be used during hiking on rough terrain or for protecting the feet on slippery areas.
High-quality metatarsal boots can protect the metatarsal bones of the feet.
Metatarsal bones are located in the toe region of the middle part of the feet. They are long and delicate bones which are highly susceptible to breaks and hairline cracks (especially in case of athletes and workers that work under stringent and harsh conditions). Elderly people are also at a risk from toe injuries when walking on rough terrain or in slippery regions.
Metatarsal boots can protect the metatarsals from these painful fractures and injuries and keep your delicate toes and feet safe.
What are the uses of metatarsal boots?
In the workplace, one’s feet are exposed to many hazards. These include: falling objects, stepping on sharp or hot objects, chemical or hot liquid spills, rolling objects striking the feet, sharp tools like saws, heavy objects like metallic parts, hammers, etc.
Top-notch metatarsal boots can cushion against impacts from slips and falls, falling debris, sharp tools etc.
Keep the feet safe from electrical hazards
Specific electrical hazards, fires, and explosions are some other dangers the feet can be exposed to especially if one works as a firefighter or in industries where one has to deal with electronic circuits.
Metatarsal boots undergo stringent testing and meet EH or electrical hazards to withstand shocks and high voltage impacts.
Protect from hot liquids, sparks, and chemical burns
Splashes of molten liquids, chemicals, and sparks while welding can also lead to burns and serious wounds which can also develop secondary infections.
A high-quality pair of boots with reinforced steel toe or composite met-toe can prevent these dangerous accidents.
Ideal for use by people recovering from leg fractures
Metatarsal ortho boots provide superior comfort and protection to people recovering from fractures of the feet, ankles, or leg. The boots absorb shocks and impacts and protect delicate and fragile bones.
Ortho-met boots come with special braces in the toe region along with a thick sole that makes it easy to walk. They reduce pain and also aid in quicker healing of painful fractures.
Are also great for hikers and for walking
Apart from providing workplace protection to the feet, a good pair of metatarsal boots can also provide comfort and protection to hikers walking in snow, over rough mountainous terrain, or over sharp stones, etc.
They offer superior slip resistance
Met boots come with special soles that provide slip resistance no matter how slippery the surface may be. Their hinged metatarsal joints provide protection to the upper part of the foot while the superior soles provide tractions on low-traction surfaces to prevent slips and falls.
They meet different safety standards
Metatarsal boots accepted at workplaces need to meet ASTM/CSA/OSHA certification standards. Most even meet the EH or Electrical Hazard standards.
These standards are defined by the American Society for Testing Materials to ensure maximum safety, slip-resistance, and electrical hazard protection of the shoe heel, heel surface, metatarsal foam/ steel toe, etc.
Types of Metatarsal Boots
Post-fracture-recovery ortho boots
These boots come with a special padding and braces that aid in fracture recovery. They are ideal for people with broken toe, sport or workplace stress, sprains, or those who have undergone bunion surgeries, etc.
Doctors often recommend immobilizing the toes and feet when one has recently suffered a toe injury. Such boots with metatarsal support can help.
They usually come with a thick and comfortable padded foam lining in the toe area which cushions against impacts. Some boots have an open-toe design that allows air-circulation.
The function of the padding is to not only protect the feet and delicate bones, but also speed up the healing process. They also stabilize the feet and provide support to an injured foot.
You can customize their fit by using the straps provided on the boots. In most cases, these ortho boots are made with reinforced shells and padding. (We will discuss the features and materials of metatarsal boots in detail, later on in this guide).
Metatarsal work boots
There are different subtypes in metatarsal work boots.
Some simply come with an external thick ‘met-guard’ flap in the lace region. Others come with an internal steel-reinforced met guard or internal foam padding.
The foam types ‘harden’ upon impact and disperse the impacting object’s energy to prevent injuries in the metatarsal area.
Rigid-steel meta guards prevent injuries at the workplace. These days, you can still get very lightweight and breathable boots despite the steel reinforcements.
Boots that have met guards at the lace area sometimes make lacing up slightly difficult. That is why, many prefer internal padding or reinforcements.
These days, most workplaces prefer internal met guards over bulky and unsightly external meta-guard boots. OSHA and CSA workplace standards also recommend boots with internal metatarsals only.
Here are features and materials to look for when selecting the best-rated metatarsal boots:
High-quality materials that conform to various safety standards
The materials typically used in high-quality metatarsal boots are leather or synthetic uppers with thick rubber soles.
These boots may or may not have steel toe or composite toe reinforcements.
The met guard itself may be made of steel or foam padding. Look for boots with lightweight foam padding that meets ASTM standards.
If you go for steel boots, select one that conforms to ASTM/CSA standards.
The rubber soles should meet ASTM f1677-96(the American safety testing standard against superior slip-resistance) and F2913 SATRA (which is the widely accepted global standard in the shoe industry for slip resistance).
The soles should also meet EH or electrical hazards standards. This underfoot protection is very important for workers that could come in contact with live electrical circuits.
Maximum comfort and unobtrusive fit
Look for boots that promise a snug fit. Measure your foot and ensure that the boot’s opening is at least 2.2-inches around.
Depending on your style preferences, look for a boot with high or low shaft from ankle. Some users like shorter shafts, while others may prefer ankle, calf, or even knee-length boots.
Make sure that the boot stabilizes your foot, protects your arches, heel, ankles, and even knees from impacts and shocks.
Water and weatherproof
Look for an all-year-round boot.
It should be comfortable and warm in winters but also breathable and non-sweaty in summers.
Many steel-toe reinforced boots wear off within a few months especially when they are subjected to daily wear and tear and heavy-duty or rough handling.
You want your boots to last for several years. It may be worthwhile investing in high-quality boots so you get the durability you desire.
Difference between metatarsal and steel toe boots
Metatarsal boots and steel toe boots are often thought to be the same.
They are not.
Metatarsal boots have external or internal foam padding or steel reinforcement in the metatarsal region. Steel toe boots only have reinforcement in the toe region.
OSHA and CSA certified met-guard boots often have the letter ‘M’ embossed on them. Compared to steel or composite toe boots, met-boots offer superior protection against falling debris, sharp tools, molten liquids and chemicals, and even electrical hazards for welders and construction workers.
How do you break into metatarsal boots?
Always try the boot on before buying. This will ensure a snug fit.
Make sure you wear the boots at home for several hours at a time before you start wearing them for work or hiking for longer periods of time. You can apply some mineral or coconut oil or a leather conditioner such as mink oil to soften areas that pinch your feet. (Avoid excessive oiling as you want your feet to naturally fit into the boots).
How do I know if my boots offer metatarsal protection?
One can easily tell if the boots have an external meta-guard. Such boots come with an external thick padding on the metatarsal region.
In case of internal meta-guard protection, the boot might have the letter ‘M’ embossed on it. This embossing is usually found on the boot’s tongue or on its side near the ankle area.
Metatarsal boots have special padding or reinforcement in the metatarsal region. They protect the metatarsal bones of the foot which are rather delicate and prone to breaks and fractures especially while working in harsh conditions with fire, chemical, construction or electrical hazards.
We hope this brief guide helps answer all your questions about metatarsal boots.