When it comes to protecting your feet, nothing beats the creativity and innovation of modern personal protective clothing. We’ve seen how steel toe caps help save your toes from impact and how metatarsal guards keep you safe from punctures. However, some jobs are so prone to injury that you can never be too protected. In such working conditions, you need a work boot built like a heavily armored tank. If you’re looking for footwear made for the danger zone, then here’s all you need to know about metatarsal protection and what it entails.
What Is Metatarsal Protection?
Metatarsal bones are the five, long series of bones on the top of your foot that extend all the way down from your ankle to your toes. Being the top most structure, these bones are actually more vulnerable to breaking and fracturing than your toes. Metatarsal guards are specifically designed to work in conjunction with safety toes to create the ultimate protection from above for your foot.
For decades now, workers have been required to wear safety toes on the job, but these do not really offer any protection to the metatarsal region in case of heavy impact and compression. NO matter how safe you feel your work environment is, a metatarsal work boot can save you a ton of pain, expenses and time off work. What can metatarsal protection do for you? Here are the functions and benefits of metatarsal guards.
Roles and Benefits of Metatarsal Guards
Protection from Impact
The first and most important function of good metatarsal work boots is that they offer the highest resistance against heavy impacts, blows, and forces from the side and from above. Should something hit you or land on your feet, you can rely on the guards to absorb the impact without straining your foot. Most models are taken through tests with forces of up to 15kN which is more than enough to crush the average work boot. Not to mention flatten your feet to lean stakes.
Safeguarding Against Foot Severing
If you work with items like power saws or other high powered cutting tools, then a metatarsal guard should be the first thing you look for in a work boot. These guards keep your foot safe from cuts, gashes, and blades that could slice your feet clean off. Angle grinders are especially famous for accidentally cutting off limbs faster than you can say amputate.
Protection from Penetration
That’s right, in addition to watching out for piercing objects from below, most jobs actually pose a risk of punctures from above. People working with Ramsets, nail guns, firing tools or any other powered firing tool needs to have metatarsal protection. Nothing feels better than watching high-velocity nails simply bouncing off your work boots as opposed to going through your foot.
Protection from Burns and Harmful Chemicals
Even with the industrialization of most factory processes, some workers still have to put up with extreme heat as well as hazardous chemicals. Welders are the first batch of workers that should never show up to work without metatarsal footwear. Of course, that’s if you don’t want your shoes to be burned right into your foot. Some metatarsal guards are so hardy that they can withstand direct application of boiling and molten substances. Similarly, people working in chem and solvent industries, handling acids, alkalis, hydrocarbons and fuels will require robust metatarsal guards to make it through the day in one piece.
Types of Metatarsal Work Boots
Like any other feature in a great work boot, variety is a key factor to satisfy different kinds of requirements. When it comes to the metatarsal guards, there are basically two types of protection namely internal and external. Let’s take a closer look at the prominent types and find which one will suit your job better.
External Metatarsal Protection
Like a thick, turtle’s shell, external metatarsal guards offer protection and cover on the outside of your work boots. Typically, they are folded on top of the work boot as the first line of defense against impact and harmful substances that would wreak havoc on your feet. In terms of protection, the external guards are the safest type there is. Since they are outside, they can be as thick as you want for more protection and also safeguards your boot’s uppers from debris and corrosives.
However, external metatarsal guards also come with their own set of limitations. The most obvious is, of course, decreased flexibility while walking. The other problem comes in when workers get stuck on ladders and tight spaces due to the massive guard sticking out. Fortunately, modern designs are quickly addressing these issues. Similarly, you can also remove the external guards if you wish for lighter activities.
Internal Metatarsal Guards
As the name suggests, internal guards are built into your work boots and are there to stay. Like a skeleton, inner guards offer a layer of protection from the inside. Until recently, these internal guards were not as popular due to the initial fit and feel caused by thick and oversized units. However, advancement saw later versions being built with different pieces that link up for more flexibility like an armadillo shell.
Today, many internal metatarsal guards consist of a liquid type pouch that is softer and more flexible but still resilient. The most attractive aspect about these guards is that the technology kicks in when you need it most. Once a heavy object drops to you feet, it triggers a chemical reaction that turns the soft gel into a rock hard guard. Sure, some people are still a tad hesitant, but internal guards are definitely looking like the future for metatarsal protection.