The Causes of Burning Feet

  • The most common causes of the sensation of burning or aching in the foot are mechanical friction or pressure against the skin, or from compression of nerves in the foot.
  • Pressure against the sides of the foot (as in a shoe that is too tight) will compress the joints in the ball of the foot. This can either squeeze the nerves that run lengthways between the joints, causing a burning sensation within the nerves themselves, or paralyse the action of the foot muscles served by a squeezed nerve.  Tiny areas of blood circulation may be decreased. This, in turn, can cause a muscle spasm, that results in a sensation of burning within that area of the foot.
  • Wearing a safety shoe or boot that is too loose, or incorrectly laced, will allow the foot to slide inside the shoe. An extra pair of innersoles and/or two pairs of socks may be worn if shoes are too loose. Try different lacing techniques to widen the fit of the shoe on the foot.
  • Burning feet may be due to the development of peripheral nerve damage in diabetes or nerve dysfunction in hypothyroidism, or chronic alcoholism.
  • It is important to note that total foot volume increases by 7% after 4 hours of standing, so allowance must be made when fitting new boots for this natural increase in overall foot “size”. Allowance should also be made for the added thickness of socks which are essential when wearing safety footwear. Always try on new shoes in the afternoon, not in the morning!
  • Compression of peripheral nerves in the foot is seen in tarsal tunnel syndrome, as well as in diseases such as, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Nerve entrapment of the sciatic nerve as well as malformation of arteries and veins in the spine can also cause burning feet.
  • Burning feet syndrome may be related to other disorders such as collagen vascular disorders.



Why should you polish your leather footwear?

Is it really necessary – or a marketing gimmick so you’ll spend money on an overpriced can of paste?

From medieval times (between the 5th and 15th Century), dubbin, a waxy product, was used to soften and waterproof leather. It was made from natural wax, oil, soda ash, and tallow. As leather with a high natural veneer became popular in the 18th century, a high glossy finish became important, particularly on shoes and boots. In most cases, homemade polishes were used to provide this finish, often with lanolin or beeswax as a base.

Shoes are the foundation of your outfit, and as such you subject them to more abuse than any other item in your wardrobe. You literally slap them against the ground into water, salt, dirt, grease, and grime thousands upon thousands of times. To ensure your shoes last you need to take care of them by ensuring the leather stays supple and resists water penetration.

What does Leather polish do?

Well, the simplest explanation is that leather is an animal hide (either cow or buffalo). Leather is therefore skin. And like your skin – it’s tough but still fragile relative to rough surfaces and needs protection and care.

Unlike your skin – which is alive and receives nourishment from the body (sweat and oils) – the leather on your shoes only receives the nourishment you give it. It can easily dry out, over-absorb water, or be damaged in numerous other ways.

A good leather polish is therefore designed to be readily absorbed and will nourish/restore flexibility in the fibers.

This is important as leather is prized as a clothing material because it can be both flexible and durable. If leather loses its natural oils and moisture, it loses its flexibility and its fibrous interweave will start to crack and eventually break down. Once this happens it is lost and needs to be replaced.

Should you polish your shoes before wearing them for the first time?

Absolutely yes! – You need to polish your shoes or boots before wearing them. Most footwear does not come conditioned and polished out the box. In order to keep your purchase clean, neat and tidy for when you receive them. (Imagine opening a new shoe box with polish stains inside!) So, this is your responsibility. As far as you know the leather may have sat in dry conditions for months and may be screaming for oil and moisture.

Polish thoroughly, and then you’re ready to go!

How often to polish your Leather Footwear?

When your shoes need it – which depends primarily on Environmental Conditions.

  • If you spend a lot of time out and about in arid areas like the Northern Cape (Upington, Kathu or Hotazel), you want to polish once every two weeks.
  • Working daily on construction sites in sandy, damp conditions in areas like Durban or Cape Town? Once a week.
  • Occasionally wearing your boots at a university, short term architectural project, or a once a week fast food restaurant shift? Once a month.

Use your discretion. Now that you know what is required, it’s your preference.

So, the next time you find cracking along the bridge or outer sides of your shoe or boot… remember, this was either caused from the leather drying out or water damage – which could have been prevented with polish! Try it, at very least you’ll get a shine.