Looking at your work boots, you’ll probably notice their extremely tough leather exteriors as well as highly durable and resilient rubber outsoles. As with any other footwear, works shoes need to be as comfortable as they are sturdy. Most protective and supportive features are in plain sight and easy enough to spot.
However, some of the most important features and aspect of your work boots lie deep inside the construction, invisible to the naked eye. When it comes to the character of your boot, the shank is responsible for giving it structure. But just how crucial is this small component? Let’s take a closer look at what a shank is and what role it plays in today’s work boots.
What Are Shanks?
When referring to work boots, shanks are an integral part of the supportive structure in between the outsole and midsole. The presence of this component is very crucial to a boot’s functionality since in addition to giving a boot its shape, it also diminishes the load incurred by the wearer’s calves and feet. Traditionally, shanks are made of steel.
However, more contemporary shanks are made of materials like fiberglass, plastic, Kevlar, Nylon among others. A reliable shank prevents your boots from losing structure and support. This way, you don’t have to cough up additional funds buying new shoes.
In addition to keeping expensive boots in great working condition for longer, shanks offer workers more balance, comfort, and support to those painful and overworked arches. Simultaneously, they are also useful in hazardous workplaces where there is a danger of being pierced by sharp objects from below.
Types of Shanks
Like footwear, shanks come in a whole bunch of different shapes, sizes, and types. Some shanks are full length, half or even three-quarters of the outsole length. As would be expected, full-length shanks are the heaviest kind and can’t be bent in half (that’s not a challenge, but you can take it any way you like). More often than not, shanks won’t weigh you down, but they will prevent getting overworked arches. Here are the two most common types of shanks.
Arguably the most popular of the two, steel shanks have been around since the inception of the first work boot. Now, while steel may sound heavy and cumbersome, steel shanks are actually comprised of thin pieces of metal between your work boots. Just picture some small metal plates in your footwear. Steel shanks are definitely stiffer than other types, making them the ideal choice for protection against punctures.
Unfortunately, steel shanks tend to set off metal detectors and are also sensitive to temperature changes; but their merits far outweigh the demerits. Your choice will be heavily influenced by your work environment as well as how many security checks you go through every day. If you climb ladders or walk on uneven, rough terrain, this type of shank will prevent bruises.
Composite/ NonMetal Shanks
These are typically comprised of materials like fiberglass, plastic, and nylon. Composite shanks are much warmer and more softer than steel shanks. Thanks to their specific materials, they offer the most lightweight and flexible properties. But don’t be fooled by the lighter weight and more flexibility; these shanks can hold their own in a head to head against steel.
The only difference apart from being light is that they give you just enough room to move naturally in your shoes. To help ease the pain and stress in your arches, composite shanks offer plenty of support. However, they may not be as good as steel when it comes to standing on rocks and sharp objects. They’ll still help you stabilize each and every one of your steps though. To offer workers a light and flexible alternative, more and more workplaces are adopting this type of shank.
To sum it up, getting shanks in your work boots is a definite must have. Not only do they offer protection and support for your weary arches, but they are also a great investment. If you use a ladder every day, shanks keep you safe from getting rung bruises. Similarly, people who work on rocky terrain, construction sites and areas with piercing sharp objects from below will also benefit greatly from a reliable shank. Remember, the best form of protection is prevention, and shanks in your work boots anticipate and prevent the danger in more ways than one. Learn more about what materials some of the popular shoe manufacturers are using for their shanks