Are Safety Shoes Good For You?

by  |  Protalus • 

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If you spend a large part of your day standing and walking on hard surfaces, you know how rough it can be on your body. This time spent standing can lead to lower back and foot injuries. At times, safety shoes are the only things separating hard floors from a person’s feet. They protect workers from falling objects, injuries from stepping on something sharp, or slipping . But are safety shoes doing more harm than good?

Not All Safety Shoes Are Created Equal 

In a study conducted by the Journal of Occupational Health , twenty automotive workers were given three different types of safety shoes. The first shoe was flat with a rubber sole. The second shoe was cushioned. The third shoe had a curved sole. The workers were instructed to wear each type of safety shoe at work for two weeks. After the two week period, the workers walked on concrete while a machine measured the workers’ gaits and joint movements . This experiment was repeated for each type of safety shoe. The results of this experiment? Not all safety shoes are created equal .

Safety shoes for alignment and support

The Results of the Experiment

It was statistically clear that the different safety shoes affected workers’ gaits in significantly different ways. Shoe #1 with the flat rubber sole had adverse effects on the workers’ postures and gaits, and placed more pressure on the feet. Shoe #2 that was cushioned and Shoe #3 with a curved sole offered more support to workers’ postures . This study shows default, “normal” safety shoes could be contributing to workers’ musculoskeletal pains. More research is needed to definitively prove that typical safety shoes are negatively affecting workers’ health; however, this experiment did show that many factors have to be considered when choosing a safety shoe .

Factors to Keep in Mind

Anyone who works on their feet all day has some idea of the aches and pains that standing all day can bring. In another study, twenty employees who worked in kitchens or veterinary offices were asked what they look for in a pair of safety shoes. These interviews were conducted with the goal of listening to and understanding workers’ footwear needs. The participants mentioned that, when wearing safety shoes, they hope to feel comfortable, cushioned, and supported. They wanted shoes that fit their feet and had a secure grip on the floor. It would be ideal if the shoes were easy to put on and take off, and if they could be tailored to the individual’s foot. The interviewees mentioned that they experience pain standing for long periods almost everyday, but they would appreciate it if the shoe could ease some of that pain. The factors that influenced the initial choice of footwear included how easily the shoes can be cleaned, their style, and their price .

The Importance of Insoles and Support 

The two studies described above display how comfort and support play an important role in a safety shoe’s success. When searching for the right safety shoe, remember that a shoe is only as good as it’s insole. The way you feel at the end of the day is partially dependent on how well your body is able to deal with the pressures of standing, distributing weight, and coping with repeated impact. You know that if you hunch over or lean one direction as a habit you may experience aches and pains as a result. The same is true of your musculoskeletal system. If you have even slight misalignments in your body, you may not be bearing weight on the correct structures in your body. Over the course of a full day on a hard floor that can add up. Protalus insoles can slip easily into your safety shoes and provide the alignment correction, comfort, and support that can make all the difference in how you feel. Safety shoes shouldn’t just protect you from external injuries, they should help you feel your best from the inside as well.

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