Designed to protect the foot and ankle, a walking boot – or CAM boot – is a medical shoe that’s usually prescribed in the wake of an injury, or to support recovery after surgery. If you’re wearing a walking boot, you’ve probably sustained an injury that can only withstand partial weight bearing, so you may be instructed to use it in conjunction with other mobility aids, like crutches.

What kind of injuries might you need a walking boot for?

Broken bones – for a bad or complex break, you might be fitted with a cast first, but depending on the facture, you could also be prescribed a boot straight after the injury occurs.

Tendon injuries – walking boots might also be prescribed after a tendon injury, like an Achilles tear or even severe shin splints.

Severe sprains – there are three different categories of sprain. While a first-degree sprain is mild and has a quick recovery time, second and third-degree sprains involve more serious ligament damage, and might require the use of a walking boot.

Surgical recovery – lastly, walking boots are often used to aid recovery following an ankle or foot operation; for example, a boot could be prescribed where immobilisation is needed for a fracture to heal properly after realignment surgery.

How to Use a Medical Boot

When you’re prescribed a medical boot, it’s important you know how to fit it correctly – if you don’t, you could cause further damage or slow down your recovery. Here’s a quick break down of how to fit a walking boot:

  1. First, make sure you’re sitting down. Take a comfortable sock and slowly slide it over your toes and foot, before gradually pulling it up your leg.
  2. Pick up your walking boot, and undo (don’t just loosen) all the Velcro straps from top to bottom, so the boot has a long opening at the front.
  3. Place the open boot behind your relevant leg, and then cautiously slide your foot and ankle backwards into it, without flexing your joint.
  4. Now you need to do up the straps. Start with the one closest to your toes, threading the Velcro through the plastic bar and securing it. It should be tight enough to restrict the movement of your foot and ankle, without constricting circulation.
  5. Work your way up the boot, securing all the other Velcro straps in the same way.
  6. Once you’re happy with how the boot fits, it’s time to practise walking. In a standard shoe, you’d walk from heel to toe, but medical boots often have a curved base to help you roll smoothly from one to the other, reducing the impact of the movement.
  7. Start by tentatively putting some weight on your foot, and walking slowly around the room. At the beginning, your doctor is likely recommend using a crutch at the same time. You should hold your crutch in the hand on the opposite side to your injured foot or ankle.
  8. If your boot is on too tight, your circulation might be affected. Check your toes and foot fairly regularly to make sure there’s no sign of additional redness or swelling.

Why Walking Boots are Important

Medical walking boots are a very popular orthopaedic device, and while they’re less rigid than a traditional cast, they offer several convenient advantages:

  • They still significantly limit the movement in your foot and ankle. As we mentioned earlier, this can protect broken bones, damaged tendons and ligaments, and help recovery after surgery.
  • Medical boots are also adjustable, so you can increase the level of mobility they allow over time, as the area starts to heal.
  • Unlike casts, walking boots are also completely removeable, so they can be taken off for a shower and at night (or at least loosened, if you’ve been advised to wear yours to bed).
  • Some medical boots even come with fitted air cushions, to stop the injured part of your foot or ankle from moving around, and lend it some extra protection.
  • Most importantly, a CAM boot encourages a gradual, comfortable recovery. They can even help you get back on your feet more quickly, as they allow you to bear some weight throughout your recuperation.

What are crutches for?

A crutch is a type of walking aid that transfers the weight of a person from the legs to the upper body. They’re generally used by people with foot, ankle or leg injuries, as well as anyone who needs long-term assistance with mobility.

There are three different kinds of crutch, but for a short-term injury, you’re likely to be given either Axilla or elbow crutches. Depending on your injury, you might be instructed to use a pair or a single crutch, and either way they’re frequently prescribed for use alongside a walking boot.

How to Walk in a Walking Boot, Without Crutches

There’s a whole host of reasons why some users might find conventional crutches uncomfortable. Many find walking with crutches causes them to collapse into poor posture, develop blisters on their hands or pain in their armpits – not to mention the inconvenience of constantly having your hands full! Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives to consider when you’re using a walking boot:

Consider a cane

A cane is designed for singular use, and provides increased stability to help you move around with more confidence. There’s a huge variety of canes on the market, including models with curved and straight handles, different types of grip, and even canes which split into three or four legs, if you need a little extra help with balance.

person with aircast boot walking with iwalk2.0 hands free crutch

Try iWALK hands-free knee crutches

The iWALK hands-free knee crutch is a revolutionary device that can get you moving straight away. Rather than carrying it, you wear an iWALK hands-free knee crutch on the injured leg itself, so just like the name suggests, both hands are free to read, cook, carry a bag or pick up your toddler – the possibilities are endless.
With an iWALK hands-free crutch, you’ll be walking on your injured leg, but putting weight on your knee, rather than your foot or ankle. This is a big advantage, as it allows for greater blood flow and minimises muscle atrophy. Unlike regular crutches, the iWALK hands-free crutch will support your injured foot – so you won’t have to keep a heavy walking boot raised all day, and as the injured foot is secured to the crutch, it’s a lot less exposed too.

Opt for a wheelchair or a walker

If you’ve been given a boot to limit movement, but it’s too painful to put any weight on your foot at all, a wheelchair could be the perfect option for getting around until you’re a little more recovered. Once you’re on the mend and ready to start taking some tentative steps, you could move up to a walker – this is a solid, square frame on two wheels that you push in front of you.

Let’s recap…

While walking boots can provide additional stability, their primary function is to protect your foot or ankle, and help fractures or tendon injuries to heal. With this in mind, it’s not advisable to use a medical boot as a standard shoe, and put your full weight on it without any additional support.

But when it comes to mobility aids, conventional crutches aren’t your only option. The iWALK hands-free knee crutch is a fantastic alternative, which can help you recover without putting your life on hold. They’re suitable for use straight after an injury or surgery, and easy to wear with a walking boot, so you can get your independence back, and enjoy maximum mobility while you’re on the mend.


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