Metatarsal boots are safety work boots intended to protect your metatarsals.
Metatarsals are the five bones that sit in the middle of your foot. They are particularly prone to injury, especially if the risk of dropping a heavy object on your foot is relatively high.
Steel-toed safety work boots only protect the toes.
As such, if you were wearing them and dropped a heavy metal workpiece onto your foot, you could break one or more of your metatarsals.
Metatarsal injuries can be debilitating and long-term, sometimes taking years to fully heal.
Metatarsal boots protect the top of your foot. They can protect from injuries caused by dropped objects, rolled objects, molten metal, cuts, pierces, and acids.
They are indispensable for welders because of the risk of molten metal falling onto the foot. The heavy workpieces and high impacts involved in welding also increase the risk of heavy objects falling on the foot.
There are two basic types of metatarsal boots – internal, and external.
External Metatarsal Boots
External metatarsal boots are the older style of the two.
They are still in popular use today and boast slightly better performance in workplace safety tests, though the two are broadly comparable.
They consist of a hard plastic outer guard fixed to a regular work boot. Many of them are removable, allowing you to switch between regular work boots and metatarsal boots as needed. Some are not removable, so you should check before buying.
They can be cumbersome and have been reported to increase the prevalence of workplace trips and falls.
However, if you only need metatarsal protection for a limited amount of time then these are cheaper, more versatile, and slightly safer.
Internal Metatarsal Boots
Because of the drawbacks of external metatarsal boots, some companies began manufacturing internal metatarsal boots.
There are many different designs, but they all share one common thread.
The guard system sits inside the boot, making them impossible to remove.
The result is a less cumbersome boot, but with older versions, there are some comfort and fit issues. As the guard cannot be removed, those issues are permanent.
However, newer designs use a variety of technologies to decrease the profile of the guards while still providing the required protection.
For instance, some boots use a soft gel that activates upon impact and becomes a hard, protective material.
Here is a quick video showing internal metatarsal boots by Arco
If you need a metatarsal boot for constant, daily protection then you will probably be better served by an internal metatarsal boot than an external one.
We hope this guide has helped you understand what metatarsal boots are and why they are important.
If you have any questions or comments about this guide or metatarsal boots in general, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.