A tall fracture walking boot versus a short fracture walking boot. Which one is better if you’re an injured runner? Well, that’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On The Run Podcast.
I have done lots of episodes talking about fracture walking boots, about why I think they’re over prescribed and overused and used for way too long for many injured runners with many different kinds of overtraining injuries.
But one of the questions I often get is when somebody does a second opinion, I’ll tell them they need a fracture walking boot for a short period of time, and they’ll say, “I already have one. Let me show it to you.” and it’s a short fracture walking boot and I say, “No, don’t use that”, given their circumstances.
There is a plus and a minus to everything. So, there’s an advantage. It’s not so cut and dry as one’s better than the other. One is better for certain circumstances and not so good for other circumstances.
The first thing is why think about it, you always want the least restrictive intervention, but you also want to heal as quickly as possible. And you want to shorten the time that it takes for you to get back to running, obviously. The longer it takes to heal, the longer it’s going to take for you to get back to running.
A tall fracture walking boot, what I’m talking about is a big one like this. This is a tall fracture walking boot and you can see it is big, it goes all the way up to just below your knee. So yes, it’s huge. It’s gigantic. It’s going to be uncomfortable. It’s going to make you walk like Frankenstein, and it works.
The short fracture walking boot is usually only about this tall. It’s about half as tall and it’s a lot more comfortable. The reason it’s a lot more comfortable is because you have a lot more motion. The bottom of the boot, the curvature actually really helps you walk with less stress and strain on the structure of the foot because you kind of roll across the ground as opposed to bending your foot. So, it holds stuff still but let you kind of roll across the boot. They usually takes some time to get used to it but it does help.
Short fracture walking boot does have that but it does not have the same level of immobility because it’s not as tall. So, a lot of the muscles are up above the boot, you’re kind of levering more with your leg moving in the boot when you have a short one. Not true with a tall one.
Most of the time I use a tall fracture walking boot. I don’t even take short ones with me when I go to see patients, if I see an elite athlete at home, because I almost never use them. They are more comfortable but if you’re in a short one versus a tall one, I think in almost all cases you’ll be in it longer, and so it’s not as good.
So, if you have a really minor injury that I think could get away with a short fracture walking boot, I would probably use some other kind of shoe that could accomplish a similar thing without as much restriction there because remember, you want to heal as fast as possible. You want the least restrictive intervention that you need at that time, you want the shortest time without intervention, and you want to get back to running as quickly as possible.
If you want to know how I help people do that. I wrote it all up in a book that not to tell you about a specific injury but about the thinking that you need to have when you’re an injured runner who’s having a hard time getting back to running and you need to take what you know from training and apply it to recovery so that you can start exercising and start training again.
It’s the running injury roadmap. It actually maps it all out for you. You can get a copy for free at the www.docontherun.com/roadmap. So, check it out, and I’ll see you in the next episode.