What is a Met Guard In Work Boots?

Keen to find out what is a met guard in work boots?  

Great, you have landed in the right place!

In this ToolGaloreHQ.com blog, we will show you:

  • Differences between internal and external met guards
  • Why you should wear them;
  • Who are they best suited for; and
  • So Much More
Met guard in work boots

Why This Guide About What Is A Met Guard In Work Boots

If you have ever needed to work in heavy industrial applications that require you to have exposure to heavy falling objects, then you are probably quite familiar with either steel toe or composite toe work boots.

However, I am an engineer, and I am fully aware that although the composite and steel toe provide a reasonable amount of protection against heavy objects in and around the toe area, they do not protect the entirety of your upper foot.

That is where the met guard comes into play. Met guards or as they are formally known as metatarsal guards are designed to protect the entirety of the upper foot especially from very heavy objects that may not be sufficiently covered by steel or composite toes.

Hence why I created this guide, to provide you with information so that you can make an informed decision as to whether you require a MET guard or not.

Read More:>>> Find top insoles to provide comfort over and above your met guards

What You Need To Know About Met Guard in Work Boots

Internal vs External Met Guards

internal vs external met guard

Met guards are either internal or external, their entire purpose is to protect the metatarsal of your foot. The external met guards are quite visible and they are characterized by the bulging cover. Whereas the internal met guards are not that obvious visually.

There is however generally a quick way for you to figure out if your work boot has an internal met guard. This is done by simply reading the label inside, it should provide under the ASTM spec something along the lines of “MNT” or “Met”.

Understanding the foot structure

The human foot is a complex and intricate structure that allows us to stand, walk, and run and even wear work boots. It is composed of 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Each foot can be divided into three main parts: the hindfoot, midfoot, and forefoot. The hindfoot is made up of the heel bone (calcaneus) and ankle bone (talus), while the midfoot includes the bones that form the arch and the top of the foot.

The forefoot includes the toes, metatarsals, and the ball of the foot. This intricate arrangement of bones and joints allows for a wide range of motion and stability, but it also makes the foot susceptible to injury and wear and tear.


To fully get and understanding and appreciation, the force required to damage foot bones and muscles can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the size and strength of the individual, the nature of the impact, and the specific bones and muscles involved.

In general, though, studies suggest that it takes a significant amount of force to cause serious damage to the foot. For example, a series of experiments conducted by researchers at the University of Calgary found that it typically took at least 1,000 Newtons of force to fracture common foot bones like the metatarsals.

As an engineer, the importance of ASTM F2413 standards cannot be understated for ensuring the safety of workers in various industries. One area of concern is the risk of compression injuries, which can occur when heavy objects fall on a worker's feet or when they are struck by moving vehicles or machinery. These types of injuries can cause extensive damage to the bones, muscles, and tissues in the foot, leading to long-term disability and a huge loss in productivity.

Some examples of compression injuries that workers may experience include fractures, dislocations, and crush injuries. Therefore having boots that are accompanies by Met guards.

To truly understand, the importance of a metatarsal guard, let’s look at how each component of the foot works and how they are protected on impact.

Read More:>>> Steel and composite toe boots could be an alternative option for your needs


The phalanges – what to many people more commonly known as the toes, are the tiny bones that make up the front part of the foot. Despite their small size, they play a critical role in our ability to walk, balance, and run. However, as anyone who has stubbed a toe can attest, these fragile yet essential bones are all too vulnerable to injury.


The metatarsals are the long bones in your feet that play a crucial role in maintaining balance and mobility. They are located between your ankle bones and the phalanges of your toes. These bones are vulnerable to impact and compression injuries, especially for those who work in hazardous environments like construction sites. Thankfully for you, there are metatarsal guards.


Tarsals are a set of seven small and irregular bones located in the foot that serve the purpose of forming the ankle joint and providing support to the body's weight. These bones lie between the lower leg's tibia and fibula and the metatarsals of the foot. Ligaments and muscles connect the tarsals to enable the foot's stability and movement. The seven tarsal bones are named as the talus, calcaneus, navicular, cuboid, and the three cuneiform bones (medial, intermediate, and lateral). The collective function of these tarsals is crucial in facilitating the overall movement and function of the foot.

A metatarsal guard protects the tarsals in work boots by providing an additional layer of protection to the metatarsal bones, which are connected to the tarsals. By shielding the metatarsals from potential hazards, the metatarsal guard can help to prevent injuries to the tarsal bones and other structures in the foot.

Which is better the internal or external met guard

When choosing between an internal or external metatarsal guard, there are several technical factors that you should consider. These include:

Level of protection:

External metatarsal guards generally provide greater protection against impact and compression forces, as they are designed to cover a larger area of the foot. However, internal metatarsal guards can also provide adequate protection in many situations, especially if they are made of a sturdy material.


Internal metatarsal guards are made from soft and flexible materials, such as foam or gel, which are used to provide cushioning and shock absorption. The type and quality of these materials can impact the level of comfort. Internal metatarsal guards are often designed to conform to the shape of the foot, providing a custom fit. This can help to minimize pressure points and improve overall comfort.

Furthermore, they are generally lighter in weight than external guards, which can contribute to greater comfort during long periods of wear.

External metatarsal guards are typically made of tougher materials, such as Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) or steel, which may not be as comfortable as the softer materials used in internal guards.

External metatarsal guards are designed to fit over the top of the work boot and may not conform as closely to the shape of the foot as internal guards. However, some external guards may be adjustable, allowing for a more custom fit. External guards may not allow for as much airflow as internal guards, which can contribute to discomfort during extended wear.


External metatarsal guards are generally more durable than internal guards, as they are designed to withstand heavy impact and compression forces. However, internal guards can also be durable if they are made of high-quality materials.


External metatarsal guards are typically made of tough and durable materials, such as steel or composite materials, which can be more expensive than the materials used in internal guards. Additionally, the manufacturing process for external guards is typically more complex, which can drive up production costs.

On average, external metatarsal guards can cost anywhere from 20% to 50% more than internal guards. However, the exact cost difference can vary depending on the specific brand, model, and features of the guard.

Ultimately, the choice between an internal or external metatarsal guard will depend on your specific needs and preferences. If you require maximum protection against impact and compression forces, an external guard may be the best choice. However, if you prioritize comfort and flexibility, an internal guard may be a better option. It is recommended that you consult with a qualified safety professional or footwear specialist to determine the most appropriate metatarsal guard for your needs.

Read More:>>> If you are on your feet the whole day, these boots could compliment the met guards

Do Met Guards Actually Work

Yes the do, Imagine a worker who is operating heavy machinery in a manufacturing plant. As the worker is moving a heavy object, the object slips and falls onto the worker's foot. Without a metatarsal guard, the impact of the falling object could cause serious injury to the metatarsal bones in the worker's foot.

However, if the worker is wearing work boots with a metatarsal guard, the guard would absorb much of the impact from the falling object, distributing the force across a wider area of the foot. This helps to prevent direct impact to the metatarsal bones and reduce the risk of injury.

In fact, many safety organizations, such as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), require the use of metatarsal guards in certain workplaces to help protect workers from foot injuries.

When do you need to consider a met guard as opposed to simply just a steel toe work boot

Here is an example of 4 different work scenarios that would benefit from having a metatarsal guide as opposed to simply a steel toe or composite toe work boot.

  • Heavy machinery operation: Workers who operate heavy machinery, such as forklifts or excavators, are at risk of dropped or falling objects that can cause injury to the feet, including the metatarsal bones.
  • Construction work: Workers in construction sites are exposed to various hazards, including falling objects, sharp edges, and electrical hazards, which can cause foot injuries.
  • Welding or grinding: Workers who perform welding or grinding tasks are at risk of sparks, hot slag, and other flying debris that can cause foot injuries, including metatarsal fractures.
  • Mining or quarrying: Workers in mining or quarrying industries are exposed to heavy equipment, falling rocks, and other hazards that can cause serious foot injuries.

Interesting Facts About Met Guard in Work Boots

Did you know that met guards have been around for over 100 years? They were first invented in the early 1900s by a British inventor named Hiram Bertram. And while today's met guards may look different than Bertram's original design, they still serve the same purpose: keeping your feet safe.

So if your job requires you to wear protective footwear, make sure to invest in a pair of boots with met guards to keep you safe and secure on the job.

Final Thoughts On What is a Met Guard In Work Boots

After careful consideration, it is clear that an external/internal met guards are a necessity for anyone working in hazardous environments.

This simple yet effective piece of equipment provides an extra layer of protection to the metatarsal bones in the foot, guarding against crushing, puncture, and impact injuries. The reality is that accidents happen, and it's better to be safe than sorry. Investing in a reliable met guard not only protects against physical harm but also provides peace of mind knowing that you are taking the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe on the job.

Don't wait until it's too late; prioritize your safety and invest in an external met guard today.

Mogale Modisane, PrEng

Mogale Modisane, PrEng

Mogale is a professional engineer (PrEng). With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

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Mogale Modisane, PrEng

Mogale Modisane, PrEng

Mogale is a professional engineer (PrEng). With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

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