Feets Don't Fail Me Now

All day on on your feet on a concrete shop floor is an rX for full-body pain. In this thread from the Cabinetmaking forum, old hands with old feet tell where they stand on personal footwear. October 1, 2005

Since I've moved shop from a wood floor shop to a concrete floor shop, my knees have been hurting. I have anti-fatigue mats, but not everywhere, so I'd like some suggestions about the best shoes for a woodworker who's on his feet all day. I currently wear basic high-top sneakers, but I suspect there may be something wiser. The boots I am looking for don't have to be steel toe.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor D:
I feel your pain. Our shop is 7,000 square feet of concrete. I wear Nike walking shoes and I wear them out about every four months. I have tried everything and those seem to work the best. Some guys in the shop never buy new shoes and they donít seem to mind.

From contributor Y:
When I went from tennis shoes to boots, my comfort level went way up. I work on a concrete shop floor with no anti-fatigue mats. My hips always bothered me with tennis shoes. The boots have really helped. I tried on all kinds of boots, and finally ended up with some of the $20/pair variety from Walmart. Shop till you find comfortable ones, and remember that the most expensive ones might not be the best. I got a new pair at Christmas time, and the soles are all but worn smooth. When I realized I was wearing out a pair of boots more than once a year, I began to realize why I had been sore.

From contributor F:
Itís kind of a mystical thing. Some shoes worn on concrete will make your feet hurt at the end of the day and some wont. I have tried basketball shoes and some worked and some didn't. I am currently wearing a pair of Romeo slip-on boots and they seem to get along very well with my feet.

From contributor J:
Right now I work at a cabinet shop where you are not allowed to wear sneakers or tennis shoes at all because someone dropped something on their foot and now everyone has to wear either hard sided shoe of some sort or boot. I myself just wear hiking boots that I buy from Cabelas because they arenít really high up on my legs like my pair of redwings that I also have. I wouldn't recommend any kind of tennis shoe or sneaker because like in certain situations that I have ran into like having a huge 1" 1/8" counter top about 8' long fall on my toes and if I would of had shoes in my toes would have been broken.

From contributor W:
Before I opened my cabinet shop, I was a superintendent for a stevedoring company (loading and unloading ocean going ships). I was on my feet 12-20 hours per day usually 7 days a week. There were no sneakers allowed. I walked the uneven steel ship decks and concrete piers for almost 15 years with nary a problem. The support that a good work boot offers your feet cannot be attained from tennis shoes, walking shoes, and the like.

The sports shoes are too soft to offer that kind of support. A 6" or 8" lace up boot will provide ankle support, which is directly transferred to the knees, hips and back. Currently I am wearing Wolverines with a Durashock sole. Red Wings are probably a little better and they cost more. They are extremely comfortable. They will take a little getting used to if you have been wearing tennis, but the end result will be worth it.

From contributor M:
I wear hiking boots (about ankle high) either a combination leather/fabric or all leather. The breakthrough for me came when I started to use the Dr. Scholl's shoe inserts. I buy my shoes a 1/2 or a full size bigger and sometimes use two thinner foam inserts. I felt immediate relief on my heels. It would make a difference on any kind of shoes I would think.

From contributor B:
I agree with Contributor W. I worked in a paper mill for 17 years on concrete and started out with work boots. I tried trendy shoes such as sneakers and hiking boots but kept coming back to quality 6"-8" high work boots. The support for my feet makes a great difference. I can tell when it's time for new boots, when after a long day I feel fatigue in my legs. In my case it's 6-8 months.

From contributor S:
It took me a while to get used to the concrete. Still it hurts sometimes. I wear Red Wings, and I wear out about a pair in about nine months. Adding some aftermarket cushions in the shoes helps. Since we install nearly everything we build, I will not wear cleated shoes in a customer's house. The Red Wings I buy have a nearly flat sole. It's all about not tracking in the mud/stone that's usually at a new construction job site. Putting some matting where you're usually standing also helps. We have a piece in front of the saws, at the workbench, at the sanding table. You don't have to mat the entire shop.

From contributor U:
Blundstone boots are great - Iíve been wearing them for as long as I can remember, my parents would buy them for me when I was a kid. Originally just a work boot, but I wear mine around town because they are so comfortable I recommend looking into these boots


From contributor L:
I'll never forget something and old barber told me Always buy good footwear and a good mattress, because you have to stand on your feet all day and sleep on your bed all night. Timberland hiking boots have worked well for me. Ankle support definitely helps.

From contributor R:
I like Wolverines as well. I'm on my feet all day long, usually on some kind of concrete slab. Sears sells several kinds of Wolverine work boots. The more expensive ones have all of the high tech features that you could ever want. The latest pair I got has orthotic foam insoles, titanium alloy toe protection (lighter), heel cushion, antimicrobial treatment, urethane midsole, non-slip and non-marking sole with electrical hazard protection. They feel like you have a comfort mat under you at all times.

From contributor C:
If you really want comfort go to a chiropractor or doctor that has customized shoe inserts. They take a mold of your foot and make them to fit. I have had back, knee problems for years and within two months I could tell a world of difference. They are expensive however. I paid $220 for mine, but it made more difference than any shoe I tried. I honestly would have paid twice that much, thatís how much difference they make.

From contributor T:
I wear running shoes and they are comfortable for me. There's a store in our area called BIG 5 and they sell shoes for pretty good prices. Running shoes give good side support and have cushioned heels. I also put hard plastic orthotics in them - they're about $20 and last forever.

From contributor P:
I would recommend checking out Dr. Martens over the ankle boots - they are great. They are water proof and slip proof even in oil. I'm very happy with them.

From contributor O:
To contributor U: I like the boots you mentioned. I bought a pair of Rossi work boots a few years ago on a trip down under. Since then I go through two pairs a year and have found nothing else that even comes close. Is the Blundstone brand better than Rossi? They look the same. The slip on feature is nice when visiting clientsí homes.

From contributor U:
The three big brands are Redback, Blundstone and Rossi. I prefer the Redbacks, but theyíre not available here locally. They are all excellent boots, although I have never worn Rossiís before (but I did try some on in the store years ago). I bought 2 pair of Blundstones from the Helly Hanson store here in Alaska a few months back. Yes, I believe they are better, they seem like they are softer and more comfortable.

From contributor E:
In response to the many who mentioned pain and fatigue from standing or walking on hard shop floors for extended periods of time there is and mobile anti-fatigue matting solution called ErgoMates. This patented product straps to almost any type of footwear making mats mobile. Those interested in this solution can visit www.safetyseven.com and click on ErgoMates.

Click here for full size image

From contributor D:
Here is a shoe called Z-Coil that I would recommend taking a look at.


The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor N:
Don't discount the importance of the lost art of foot measuring. There are not too many stores that perform this once crucial procedure. I have learned the hard way that every shoe is different, and every foot is different. A shoe shop that takes the time to measure is a shop worth visiting again.