A foot injury is always a bummer not only because of the pain but also because you have to figure out a new way of walking for a few weeks. A walking boot, while awkward and clunky, offers a sense of freedom from crutches. The boot is strapped to the injured leg and immobilizes it to allow for proper healing. You may be required to wear a crutch depending on the severity of your injury. Whatever the case, here are a few tips for wearing a walking boot. But first, why wear a walking boot?
Importance of a Walking Boot
Walking boots feature a foam-lined brace and a rigid outer sole. They support the foot, ankle and lower leg in case of an injury. A walking boot aids recovery by reducing movement and controlling alignment. Common conditions that call for the use of a walking boot include Achilles tendon repair or injury, fractures, and foot or leg injuries. It works like a plastic cast and provides the added benefit of removability when cleaning the skin on your foot or ankle. Additionally, you get more stability and mobility with a walking boot than a traditional cast.
How to Put on a Walking Boot Properly
Learning how to strap on an orthopedic walking boot is the first step towards achieving comfort during an injury. To get started, gently pull a sock up the injured leg. Scrunch down the sock and insert your toes in the appropriate part of the sock. This reduces discomfort. You may have to tape down your foot in case of an ankle or foot injury.
Detach the Velcro straps on the boot and hold them back to open the boot completely. Most walking boots come with 2-5 Velcro straps depending on ankle stability and the nature of the injury. Place the boot behind the injured leg, and be sure to sit down during this process.
Slide your foot and ankle into the boot. This should go smoothly with the Velcro straps pulled completely back. You won’t even need to bend your ankle.
Release the Velcro straps and thread the one closest to the toes through the middle of the plastic threading bar on the other side of the boot. Pull the strap over the bar and onto the other side, ensuring the strap is tight enough to restrict movement and allow circulation.
Thread and tighten the rest of the Velcro straps, starting from the bottom. Once done, you can start practicing how to walk in an orthopedic boot. A crutch or cane can provide extra support and reduce pain during the first few days.
Keep the Swelling Down
A leg injury is often accompanied by swelling and you’ll need to keep it down. RICE is one of the best methods of keeping swelling when wearing a walking boot. Here is a summary of the RICE method.
- Rest: Stay off your feet as much as you can. Take this time to renew Amazon Prime or Netflix and catch up on your favorite shows.
- Ice: Icing your foot every 15-25 minutes will do an amazing job of keeping the swelling down. Use a fabric cover rather than place the ice pack directly on the skin. Remember to place the ice pack in the freezer once it melts.
- Compression: You need a good compression after icing your foot. The best walking boots come with a pneumatic pump that ensures a comfortable fit. Wearing compression socks can go a long way towards reducing swelling. Be careful to shift your healing bone too much. Don’t wear compression socks until you can press the affected area without feeling too much pain.
- Elevate: Doctors advise keeping your foot elevated above the heart. An elevation foot pillow can help with this. It is a great position to be in, especially since you’ll have friends and family at your beck and call. All you need to worry about changing channels.
Even up and Stabilize
Wearing a walking boot causes a misalignment of the body. This can cause soreness of the knees, back, and hips if not corrected. The solution is to realign the body and you can achieve that with sneakers, trainer shoes, even-up products, and heel lifts. These ensure that the good leg and injured leg are in balance, thus rebalancing your gait.
Otherwise known as a wedge, an adjustable heel goes in the boot on the good foot. You can adjust it until both legs have the same height.
This even-up product attaches to the bottom of a regular shoe and elevates your good foot to match the height of the injured leg. This reduces the risk of back, hip and knee pain.
Inserting arch support realigns the natural curvature of your foot and allows the foot muscles to relax. Unlike other even-up products, arch support is inserted inside a walking boot. This ensures the right balance of structural support and cushioning.
Keep Your Feet Dry
Leaving the house to get some fresh air and clear your head is normal. Whether it rains during one of those walks or you have to shower with the boot intact, keeping your foot as much as possible is important. If moisture collects in the boot, you could experience skin itching and irritation.
If going out for a walk, consider wearing a boot weather cover to keep your foot dry in case of rain. The My Recovers Brace Cover is highly recommended. You can wear a bandage protector such as the Vive Leg Cast Cover while in the shower. It is watertight and comes handy if you’ve been instructed to wear the boot at all times.
Avoid Walking Boot Discomfort
You must learn the proper walking techniques to avoid discomfort while in an orthopedic boot. Rolling your foot from the heel to toes reduces the impact of walking significantly. It helps that most medical boots are rounded to aid rolling.
Minimize the amount of weight on the injured leg as per the doctor’s instructions. Depending on the severity of an injury, the amount of pressure you can put on an ankle or foot will vary from non-weight bearing to full-weight bearing.
Consider investing in a knee scooter. While clunky, it will give you more freedom to move around. Knee scooters are affordable, easy to use and a great alternative to a crutch. Speaking of crutches, learning to use them properly can increase comfort. Crutch pads offer added cushioning.
Rather than use your armpits, use hand grips to support your body weight. Crutch pillows at the top of the crutches reduce soreness on your armpits. If using one crutch, use the hand on the opposite side of the injured leg