A must read if you wear safety boots. Find out how they could be causing you pain and what you can do about it!
Work safety boots are essential for every manual labor job in Australia, and play a large role in protecting you from virtually every occupational hazard.
One of the leading causes of pain for those working in manual labor is foot and ankle pain as a result of safety footwear.
Safety boots can be heavy, with the focus on protecting your feet from sharp objects and potential damage. This extra weight, in addition to the limited arch support of the shoe can be detrimental to your lower body, especially your calf, achilles and heel/arch. These are some of the structures involved in pushing your feet off the ground to walk.
Safety boots can weigh up to 2.6kg, whereas a standard pair of men’s runners weigh approx. 0.5kg!
Add in the concrete floors, long work hours and high frequency of your job and you have a recipe for an overuse injury to your lower limbs such as plantar fasciitis!
So what can you do?
1. Assess the quality of your safety boots (Critical 1st step): You can either self-assess by asking a variety of questions such as; are they more than 1 year old?, do they have any signs of wear and tear? have they become overly flexible and lost their structure? have they started to cause pain in the last 3 months of wearing them? – if you do not feel comfortable assessing your shoes, you can bring them into our clinic for a detailed assessment. The answer could simply be a new pair of boots.
2. Place a Custom-Orthotic into your safety boots (Highly recommended if working >20 hours per week on hard surfaces): Custom inserts can absorb the shock and pressure involved in every step that you take. I will advise that you steer away from the ‘off-the-shelf’ inserts as most of the time they will not be enough to make any significant difference. A custom-orthotic involves a 3D scan of your feet, a specially moulded orthotic that can be placed within any shoe with a prescription tailored to what you need for your profession. An additional layer can also be added on top of your orthotic to add sweat resistance, allowing the orthotic to survive long-term use. These custom-orthotics can be found at our clinic and you can simply
book an appointment for us to assess whether you are a candidate for them.
3. Treatment & Maintenance: If changing your shoes is not an option, you may require soft-tissue massage, taping, an exercise program, shockwave therapy, joint mobilisations, dry needling, cupping or some kind of hands-on treatment to settle down your pain and provide your body with some relief. Quite often, a few sessions of treatment is enough to bring a sense of relief and maybe that could be all you need. Otherwise, you can consider maintenance by receiving treatment once per week/fortnight/month even if you are not in pain, in order to ensure that you prevent any injuries from occurring in the near future.
4. Seek professional assistance: If you are still in pain and have tried the above, then maybe there is another factor at play. In order to distinguish the true cause of pain, seeking a trusted podiatrist opinion is recommended.