Foot Care is Self Care
Your feet are respoinsible for a lot of what you do. They are the foundation of your work day, your hobbies, your mobility, and your ability to walk, run, drive, operate, carry, lift, and move. As the winter season approaches, winter foot care and protecting your feet grows as a necessity.
Winter work boots and foot care is different from other seasons. In order to keep you and your feet safe during the winter months, you need proper boots and socks to maintain these two things with the care they deserve.
Does it really make a difference if you get winterized boots?
Can’t you just wear your trusty pair of work boots from the summer through the winter, too?
Can socks really play that big of a role?
Yes it does, no you can’t, and you bet they do!
Why Should You Take Care Of Your Feet?
The same way that we are encouraged to look after our eyes, teeth, and body, feet deserve preventative care and treatment, too. The ability to do everything self-sufficiently comes from the power of feet.
The construction industry is incredibly physical. Contractors work hard every day, moving around, carrying materials, climbing ladders, driving equipment, and walking around on-site. As a contractor, being mobile, climbing in and out of equipment, and staying safe on the job all comes down to your feet. Healthy feet can help prevent injury to other parts of your body and ensures that every day is a pain and injury-free work day.
In the winter months, keeping your feet safe, comfortable, dry, and warm contribute to this. Having proper work boots, socks, and maintenance of these things will keep your feet safe all winter long. It’s an easy way to practice proper foot care at home in simple, easy steps.
Winter Work Boots
Work boots, especially in cold weather, can play a big part in foot care. Winter work boots differ from regular work boots in their insulation and waterproofing. They offer the same warmth and traction consideration as regular snow boots with the additional safety features of regular work boots.
Whenever you’re shopping for boots, comfort should come first. However, there are 5 things to consider when shopping for winter work boots:
Always make sure that your winter work boots are water resistant. Snow can turn to slush with people walking and machines driving around all the time. Look for waterproof verbiage in the information about boot specs.
Water resistant is not enough. Water resistant will only protect your feet in light rain, snow, or moisture. In order to be totally protected from water, the “proof” is all that matters.
Most winter work boots have synthetic insulation from brands like Thinsulate and Thermolite. Thinsulate is a very popular form of insulation and is measured in terms of grams per square meter of material. It ranges from 100 – 1,000 grams. Be sure to check these details when looking for how warm boots are.
Synthetic insulation is popular because it’s lightweight and breathable. Theoretically, this helps to keep your feet sweat-free and warm.
There are other forms of insulation as well. Natural insultation like down or wool can either be built right into the boot or added as an insert. However many of these inserts and additional linings are quicker to wear and bulkier than synthetic insulation.
Going with a synthetic form of insulation is usually recommended because you can add additional warmth by your choice of sock. (More on this below.)
The socks you wear in winter are usually thicker and heavier than summer socks. Bring a pair with you when you shop to insure that your feet fit comfortably. Do not limit yourself to your “normal” shoe size; try a size up or down and shop for fit and comfort over shoe size.
At the end of the day the best way to ensure safe walking in winter comes down to the tread on your boots. Ice can form on all types of surfaces and can make metal and wood especially slippery.
A study called Rate My Treads did a series of tests on different brand of boots to test their tread and grip. They found that less than 10% of boots tested passed the ice and cold test they put boots though. They made a list of boots which passed the tread test, including work boots for both men and women. Make sure to research boots before you buy, ask the questions when you’re shopping and think about these details.
Low cut shoe-like work boots may be great for the summer but higher boots offer more protection during the winter months. Not only do they help stop snow from getting into your boots or soaking into your socks, but high-top boots offer additional ankle support for if a slip does happen.
Not sure where to start?
There are plenty of reviews online for different work boots. Work Boots Guru did a review of 5 top work boots which also includes a video. Work Boot Hub also has a review of different brands and styles.
Socks are number 1. They can make the difference between dry or wet, and cold or hot feet.
Why You Should Wear Wool Socks
Wool is way more absorbent than cotton. Wool can actually hold a third of its weight in moisture before it starts to feel wet. Despite their absorption abilities, wool dries very quickly so you wont need to wait multiple days for dry socks. They also keep their insulation abilities when wet which is different than cotton. Wool is a popular fabric choice for hikers and outdoor adventures because of its moisture wicking and insulation abilities. It is also a great choice for contractors, operators, or anyone working in the cold.
Why Wool Keeps You Warmer Than Cotton
Cotton keeps you warm by trapping and warming up air in its fabric. This fabric stays close to your skin and helps to keep you warm. When cotton becomes wet, it loses its ability to hold air since these pockets are filled with moisture and stops providing warmth. Wool keeps you warm the same way, but the makeup of the fibers and their increased ability to hold moisture allows them to still hold air and keep you warm, unlike cotton.
Always Choose Wool Socks
Wool socks should be your number 1 choice for winter months. Wool socks can be found in sizes for both men and women. You can get wool socks with extra toe and heel cushioning, as well as ankle or calf-length. Not only are they incredibly helpful for keeping your feet warm and dry, they are also affordable. There are many different price points for wool socks. Like all things, you get the quality you pay for. However, the range of quality available makes wool socks available for everyone.
Proper Boot Care
Having proper boots and good socks will not keep you going all winter long. Only taking care of your boots will ensure they will last all winter and maybe even into next season. To keep your boots in the best condition, there are a few things you should be sure to do:
Take the care and time needed to break in new boots before adding any kind of oil or treatment to them, if they’re leather. Letting the breaking-in process happen naturally will help the material last in the long run.
Dry boots out as best as you can after they get wet. Stuffing newspaper inside the boots can help dry out any moisture that gets inside.
Buff off any salt when you can. This is especially important around metal tabs or clasps to prevent erosion.
Knock off extra mud, clay, etc from the tread or side of the boot soles. This helps to keep the material clean and damage-free.
If your boots are leather, use a treatment to keep the material supple and hydrated.
When you take care of your feet, your feet will take care of you. Taking these preventative steps will eliminate frozen toes and foot injuries. The best way to do this in winter months is to have proper winter work boots, to take care of those boots, and to wear wool socks to keep your feet warm and dry.
Take foot care seriously this winter season and your toes will thank you.