A walking boot is a flexible alternative to a fixed cast for certain foot, ankle and lower leg injuries. These lightweight and removable boots offer support for ankle sprains and some stable fractures. People prefer walking boots to casts because unlike casts, the boot can be removed for bathing and sleeping. A walking boot is sometimes a treatment for Charcot foot, a symptom of diabetes. Achilles tendinitis also warrants using a walking boot for stability. Walking boots come with high-tops that fit close to the bottom of the knee or low tops that fit midway up the shin.
Fit the walking boot snugly but not too tight. A boot fitted to tightly will hurt the foot. A loose boot will not offer the correct amount of support needed to protect the injury. Some walking boots offer customisable fits. Adjustable ankle and heel pads to create optimal support for the injured foot, ankle or leg.
Simulate normal walking while wearing a walking boot. Walking boots are designed to allow for easier walking with foot and ankle injuries. A study of the impact of walking boots and casts on walking by the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas concluded that the synthetic cast impaired walking stride more than the walking boot. Subjects were able to closely replicate normal walking with a walking boot.
Use caution when walking down hills and stairs. The walking boot supports the foot and leg after an injury. However, some instability may still exist, particularly when getting used to the feel of the boot. Use a handrail when walking down stairs. Be careful navigating down hills as the angle of the leg and weight on the knee is significantly different than walking on even surfaces.
Walking boots are not recommended for unstable fractures.