There are plenty of reasons to invest in a quality pair of safety shoes. From jobs that require steel toe boots, to hobbies that may put your feet at risk, steel toe shoes and boots are popular footwear for many different reasons.
However, many individuals find these boots and shoes to be more uncomfortable than your standard footwear. That is because the placement of the steel, composite, or reinforced toe can impede toe spacing or simply feel uncomfortable.
There is no need to sacrifice comfort in order to protect your toes. Below, we explain several methods to help break in your steel toe shoe or boot, as well as a few tips on increasing comfort overall.
Breaking In Your Steel Toe Shoe
The protective toe in your safety shoe can lead to discomfort, blisters and more. To help alleviate the likelihood of this happening, however, you can try several things. Let us take a look!
· Mink Oil Method
The use of mink oil on your steel toe shoe or boot is one way you can help break in your footwear. Using the oil, coat the exterior of your new steel toe shoe or boot. While doing so, focus primarily on those areas that pinch or cause discomfort while wearing your shoes or boots. Allow the mink oil to sit overnight to fully permeate the surface of the shoe.
Mink oil helps to soften the shoe or boot. This means, the footwear will have more give while you wear it. That, in turn, helps to eliminate any pinching that may occur and cause discomfort. If the shoe or boot is still stiff after one application, repeat the process until satisfied.
· Leather Conditioner Method
If you do not have access to mink oil, a leather conditioning treatment is also applicable. Simply apply it as you would the mink oil and allow it to permeate the footwear. As with the mink oil, several applications may be needed to reach the desired level of softening.
· Stick Method
There are plenty of boot-stretching devices available today. However, if you have a mop or broom stick, you do not have to buy anything additional.
Insert the stick into your steel toe shoe or boot. The goal is to insert the end into the area that is pinching your foot. Push down on the mop or broom stick to help coax the area into a more comfortable position.
You should note that some discoloration may occur after applying this stress to your steel toe shoe or boot. If this occurs, it means you applied too much pressure and over stressed the material. Pay attention when using this method to ensure you do not damage your footwear!
· Cold Water Method
As the name implies, this method requires the use of cold water. Fill a Ziploc bag with cold water. Make sure you have fully sealed the bag then insert it into your steel toe shoe or boot. (Please note, if the steel is projecting or has torn through the inner fabric of your shoe, this may puncture the Ziploc bag. That means you will likely end up with a shoe or boot full of cold water instead! Be careful and check the footwear prior to inserting the bag into your shoe or boot.)
After inserting the sealed bag of cold water, put the steel toe shoe or boot into your freezer and allow it to sit overnight. Why? As water freezes, it expands. This helps to apply pressure from within the shoe or boot to help gently stretch it.
After your steel toe shoe or boot has been stretched overnight by the ice, remove the footwear from your freezer. Allow the ice to thaw and remove the bag of water.
· Hot Water Method
Water can discolor or damage your steel toe shoe or boot. Before you attempt this method, it is very important that you waterproof your footwear.
With the hot water method, the goal is to actually saturate the shoe or boot. Fill a bucket with warm or hot water. Immerse your steel toe shoe or boot in the water and allow it to soak for 30 minutes. When you remove the shoe or boot, empty any excess water. Wear the shoe or boot for roughly one hour after soaking to help stretch the temporarily supple footwear.
Adding a thick pair of socks can also help expand the shoe or boot while trying this method. You may need to repeat this method several times before your steel toe shoe or boot is fully stretched to a comfortable level.
Other Ways to Increase Comfort
Sometimes you need to do more than just break in your steel toe shoes or boots. On the other hand, you may not have the time to fully break in your new footwear before having to wear them. In these cases, you need to find additional ways to increase your comfort levels. Below, we take a look at some of the fastest ways to increase foot comfort immediately while wearing your steel toe shoe or boot.
Wearing the right socks can make all the difference in the world. In fact, many sock manufacturers or shoe brands make steel toe socks specifically designed to increase comfort when you wear this style of footwear. These socks include extra padding where you need it to ensure the toe, heel, and arch of your foot are more insulated and padded to prevent rubbing from being an issue.
If you do not want to buy a steel toe sock, investing in a good pair of thick socks can work just as well.
Many steel toe shoes or boots have a hard, rigid sole. While this helps to increase your traction, safety and durability – it can create its own level of discomfort.
Investing in a quality pair of insoles can also boost your comfort while wearing steel toe shoes or boots. This is especially true if you have high arches, plantar fasciitis, and any number of foot issues.
Insoles come in a number of different models, materials, and support levels. That gives you plenty of options to choose from when looking for the insole that is best for you. Some insoles can be installed permanently. Other insoles can be taken out, moved around, and so forth, giving you the ability to transfer them between shoes or boots as desired.
· Band-Aids & Bandages
Blisters occur because of the friction caused when certain areas of your foot rub against the inside of your steel toe shoe or boot. However, this can be prevented in many situations.
While socks and insoles are great, sometimes you need an instant solution. One of those is the use of Band-Aids. Cheap, quick and found in almost every home’s medical cabinet, using a bandage to cover areas that rub gives you instant protection.
If a blister should occur, Band-Aid makes a blister-specific bandage. The Hydro Seal Blister bandages work wonders to provide additional comfort and expedite healing for blisters, whether they have popped or remain filled with fluids.
KT Tape is also known to help ease rubbing, support your arch and prevent blisters. Athletes and professionals who remain on their feet all day highly recommend KT tape for easing pressures, supporting joints, and preventing injuries.
Protect Your Feet, Stay Comfortable
Breaking in your steel toe shoe or boots takes time. Experts recommend that you do not buy a new pair of steel toe shoes or boots to wear the following day. However, in the event of a shoe fiasco, you may need to.
While the break in solutions we have provided can provide long-term benefits, they do take time. Several of the tips and tricks we have provided for increasing comfort, however, can act as intermediate solutions if you need comfort now and cannot wait to break in your steel toe shoes or boot before wearing them.