Boots come in a variety of shapes and sizes. As the title implies, we will be discussing the difference between 6″ and 8″ boot heights and whether there is an advantage of one over the other in reducing the risk of Musculoskeletal Injuries (MSI’s).
Coverage and Stability
The main difference between a 6″ and 8″ boot is 2″ inches. So what? Well, the first thing that comes with more material is more protection. With added coverage of the leg this can make wearing 8” boots optimal in most work environments. The extra material also provides added contact with the body which can impact our proprioception and kinesthetic awareness.
Proprioception and kinesthetic awareness are knowing where the body is positioned and how it moves in a given space at a given time. This is an important concept as it has a direct relationship with our bodies’ balance and stability. If we are more aware of where and how our body moves in space, we can react faster, reducing our potential for ankle sprains and the risk of slips, trips or falls. This has an added benefit in poor weather (icy, wet, and muddy conditions).
If you want to learn more about the various strategies our body uses to avoid slips and trips, I recommend that you read our article The Inside View On Preventing Slips, Trips, And Falls In Winter.
Is Size The Only Factor?
Now, the added benefits of an 8″ boot can be minimized if the individual does not have the appropriate sized boot (length and width). Ensure you are using a sizing device (manual or electronic), and if you are unsure how to read the device, ask for assistance. A poorly fitted boot is not only uncomfortable, it wears down faster, and may result in unwanted movement of the foot within the boot. This added movement within the boot can lead to sprains from the foot and ankle rolling and twisting. This may also increase slip/trips, and other foot issues (blisters, bunions and ingrown toenails).
To Lace or Not To Lace?
Another component that can render the added benefits of an 8″ boot obsolete, is lacing. It is crucial that the boot be laced entirely up to the top. This creates the required contact needed for enhanced awareness. If the boot is not completely laced up, not only do we lose the added awareness, but the individual’s stability and balance are compromised as well. It doesn’t matter if you have a 6” or 8” boot, if you don’t lace them up you won’t be protecting yourself against ankle injuries. It’s that simple!
8” Can Be Better Than 6”
To conclude, an 8” boot has a greater potential for ankle stability and balance than a 6″ boot through enhanced proprioception and kinesthetic awareness. This can be negated by poor sizing and insufficient lacing. With a proper fitting boot and good lacing habits, the 8″ boot is the choice!
Regardless of what size you choose, it is good practice to prepare and maintain our bodies for the work ahead. Here are some exercises that can help develop and enhance your balance and stability:
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