“A Hard sole 6” farm boot will protect your arch and support your ankles” 20 years working for a water utility I’d consider myself an expert on “hand digging” with a shovel? First off steel tipped 6” farm boots are a must! Wouldn’t leave home without them. Second, Short round D handle shovel “AKA Banjo” is the tool of choice. And once you start and your body is bent forward Stay that way, I worked with more new workers that straighten up with every shovel full of dirt only to complain of lower back pain.