Wearing a walking boot is an important part of your recovery after a foot or ankle injury but, if you’ve never worn one before, you might wonder how to do it correctly and safely.
In this article, we’ll provide 5 helpful tips for wearing a walking boot so you can have a safe, comfortable, and healthy healing journey. Let’s dive right in!
1. Choose The Right Size And Fit
As with regular shoes or boots, choosing the right size walking boot is important if you want to have optimal healing and maximum comfort during your recovery process.
Wearing an ill-fitting walking boot can cause discomfort and also impair the effectiveness of the device, potentially delaying your recovery.
When trying on different walking boots, pay close attention to how they feel around your injured area, as well as around your calf and shin. The boot should offer ample support without causing unnecessary pressure points or constriction.
On the flip side, it shouldn’t feel too loose, which is a telltale sign of a boot that’s too big.
Remember that you may need to wear thick, cushioned socks for added protection while using this mobility aid. You should, therefore, make sure there's enough room in the boot to accommodate your socks comfortably.
If possible, walk around for a few minutes in each potential walking boot before making a final decision. If you can, try mimicking movements you often make in real life, such as standing and walking at your normal (albeit slower) pace.
This will give you a more accurate sense of its functionality and comfort level during daily activities like standing or navigating stairs.
2. Gradually Increase How Much You Wear Your Walking Boot
If you want to increase your activity levels while wearing a walking boot, you need to do so gradually. This involves gradually increasing your activity levels, and patience is key here.
This approach allows your foot and ankle injury to heal without causing further damage or strain on the affected area.
When you first start wearing the boot, try to keep weight-bearing activities to a minimum, focusing on non-weight-bearing exercises like a range of motion exercises under the guidance of a physical therapist or sports medicine professional.
Listen to your body and adjust your activity level accordingly to ensure you heal at your own pace. For instance, if you feel uncomfortable or experience pain during a particular exercise or movement, stop immediately and speak to your doctor or physical therapist about how best to proceed.
3. Follow Your Doctor’s Advice
When wearing a walking boot, your doctor’s advice should precede everything else. Your doctor will likely give you information on how best to wear it to promote your healing.
They will also guide you on how long you should wear it daily, which activities are safe for you, and any precautions you must take.
Following your doctor’s advice will help speed up healing, keep you safe, and prevent further injury.
For example, if your doctor advises avoiding weight-bearing exercises, stick to low-impact workouts like swimming or cycling instead of running or jumping.
And if they ask you to wear the boot for 6 weeks straight without removing it at all times (except when you shower), don’t stray from this advice since they ultimately know what’s best for your recovery.
4. Keep Your Boot Clean And Dry
Maintaining proper hygiene is vital when wearing a walking boot, as it directly impacts your foot health and the overall effectiveness of this orthopedic device.
To ensure optimal results and prevent complications such as odor, infection, or skin irritation, make it a habit to keep your walking boot clean and dry at all times. There are also specially designed weather covers that you can wear over your walking boot to aid in keeping it clean and dry.
Develop a routine for cleaning the boot’s exterior using soapy water and a soft cloth or sponge, ensuring not to oversaturate the material.
Invest in moisture-wicking socks specifically designed for medical devices like these to keep your foot dry while wearing a walking boot. These specialized socks can help reduce sweat buildup and promote healthy airflow inside the boot, decreasing your risk of infection.
If your walking boot gets wet or you accidentally spill something on it, act quickly by removing your foot from the damp environment to avoid prolonged moisture exposure that could lead to further discomfort or hinder your healing progress.
5. Pay Attention To The Walking Surface
As you know, wearing a walking boot differs from wearing regular shoes and takes some getting used to.
Walking boots typically have less grip than shoes, and you should pay close attention to the walking surface to ensure you don’t trip or fall.
At first, you’ll probably feel apprehensive about walking with it. However, with time, you’ll gain confidence and become used to the different walking surfaces.
Common Mistakes To Avoid With Walking Boots
Here’s how to avoid the most common mistakes when wearing a walking boot:
Wearing The Boot Too Loosely Or Tightly
Choosing the right fit is one of the most important things to remember when wearing a walking boot. The boot shouldn’t be too loose or tight, as it can either result in a lack of foot support, cause pain, restrict blood flow, or feel uncomfortable.
Restricting blood flow to your foot can hamper the healing process and cause infections to go on longer.
A loose walking boot may also lead to further injuries due to the instability.
It's also worth noting that adjustments might be necessary from time to time as our bodies change size depending on factors such as the following:
- Physical activity levels
- Changes in medication regimes
Ignoring Signs Of Discomfort Or Pain
Ignoring signs of discomfort or pain while wearing a walking boot can be risky and can lead to further injury.
Pay attention to any discomfort or pain you experience when wearing your boot, as it could indicate that the boot doesn’t fit properly or that your body isn’t ready for certain activities yet.
One example of ignoring signs of pain would be pushing yourself too hard during exercise. If you begin experiencing increased pain or swelling after exercising, this could mean that you're overdoing it and should back off a bit.
Of course, if you’re concerned, you should always ask your doctor or physical therapist for advice.
Another example would be wearing the walking boot longer than your doctor recommends. This could cause unnecessary pressure on the affected area and slow down recovery time.
Overdoing It And Risking Further Injury
It can be tempting to return to your usual physical activity as soon as possible when wearing a walking boot. However, overdoing it can lead to further injury and slow recovery.
Always follow your doctor's orders and gradually increase your activity levels when wearing the boot. Don't push yourself too hard or engage in high-impact activities that could worsen the injury.
For example, if you typically enjoy running, switch to low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling instead until you heal fully.
Wearing a walking boot can be a frustrating experience, but with the right tips and care, you can make the most of your recovery process.
Remember to choose the right size and fit, gradually increase activity levels as directed by your doctor, keep your boot clean and dry, and always follow your doctor's orders for usage.