If you’re unfortunate enough to suffer a serious injury to your foot, part of your rehabilitation may involve wearing a walking boot. These are designed to immobilize your foot and leg to speed up the healing process, but wearing one can be uncomfortable and even painful.
If your doctor recommends wearing a walking boot during your recovery, you have no option other than to follow their advice, but there are some things you can do to make it more bearable, so here are our nine best tips for wearing a walking boot without pain.
1. Learn how to put it on and take it off correctly
Learning how to put a walking put on and take it off correctly is the first step in ensuring the maximum levels of comfort and reducing pain.
Start by putting a sock on your injured foot – cotton socks that reach up to your calf are the best option since they will reduce irritation to your foot and leg.
Next, undo all the straps on the boot and place your foot in it so your heel is pressed against the back of the book.
Once your foot is in place, close the straps of the liner starting at the bottom and working your way up. The straps need to be fastened firmly enough to hold your foot in place and stop it moving about but not so tight that they squeeze your foot and restrict blood flow.
With an injury such as a broken bone, your foot will tend to swell up, especially when you walk around, so you shouldn’t tighten the straps so much that the swelling causes you pain.
Finally, you need to fasten the outer straps, and again, they should be tightened enough to hold your foot in place but not so much that they squeeze your leg.
When removing the boot, unfasten all the straps completely before taking it off – never try to pull your foot out before fully unfastening the straps or you risk causing yourself pain or further injury.
2. Loosen it if it becomes too tight
If you are walking around in your boot and you realize that your foot is swelling and the boot is becoming too tight, don’t hesitate to loosen it a little. This is the quickest way to give yourself a little relief from the pain.
3. Rest after exercise and elevate your leg
If your physiotherapist tells you to exercise, you should follow their instructions. However, after completing the exercise session, you should rest your leg to allow it to recover.
This means you should take the boot off (depending on your doctor’s instructions) and elevate your foot. Putting your foot up so that it is above the level of your heart will help reduce any swelling caused by walking about.
If the swelling doesn’t go down, you can try putting an ice pack on it to help reduce the swelling.
If you experience significant swelling that doesn’t go down after elevating your foot and applying ice, you should consider seeing a doctor to check it out.
4. Let your foot breathe
While you are walking around, it is important to keep your foot protected so that it doesn’t get knocked. However, when you are resting, you should give your foot a chance to breathe.
You can do this by loosening the strap around the toe at times when there is less risk of you banging your foot.
If you are not moving about, you may also loosen the other straps to allow some air to reach your foot and leg, and this can be a good way to provide yourself with some relief.
However, only do this when it is safe and there is no risk of moving your leg or causing further damage to your injury.
5. Use a boot leveler
When you wear a walking boot, it causes your feet to be at different levels, which can make walking awkward and can lead to hip and back pain.
One simple solution is to use a boot leveler on the other foot so that both feet are at the same level when you walk.
6. Don’t get your walking boot wet
Avoid getting your boot wet since walking about in a wet boot can lead to discomfort and even infection. This is especially important if your injury required surgery and the incisions are still healing.
To prevent moisture from building up in your boot as you walk about, you should also consider wearing moisture-wicking socks.
7. Keep your walking boot clean
As well as keeping your walking boot dry, it’s also important to keep it clean, so you should remove the liner at least once a week and wash it by hand using soapy water.
Once you have washed it and rinsed out the soap, you should leave it to dry out completely before putting it back on again.
If you don’t keep your boot clean, you increase the risk of infection – and at the very least, after a week or so, it will start to smell pretty ripe!
8. Use a bag in the shower
If you need to wear your boot while you wash, you should put a plastic bag around it to stop it getting wet. The simplest way is just to use a regular plastic bag with some rubber bands around the top to keep the water out.
However, if you are going to be wearing the boot for a longer period, it’s worth buying a dedicated bag designed for the purpose.
These do a much better job of preventing water from reaching the boot, and they are also much easier to put on and take off.
9. Don’t overdo it
If your physio has told you to exercise your foot, then you should do it – because if you don’t, it can cause the recovery to take longer and may even prevent your injury from healing fully.
However, you shouldn’t overdo it either. Don’t try to walk around too much in your walking boot because this will lead to more swelling and further pain, and when this happens, the only solution is a period of extended rest.
Take it easy and be patient
Perhaps the key to recovering from an injury while wearing a walking boot is just to be patient and to make sure you have enough rest. However, when you do have to walk about – or when you need to do your physio exercises – following our tips will help reduce some of the pain.