I thought having to wear a cast for a month would be the worst part of fracturing my leg while playing soccer. But what came next was even worse. After taking off the plaster, my doctor gave me a pair of walking boots that I had to wear every waking AND sleeping hour.
The unfortunate reality is that I even had to keep my walking boots on when I went to sleep. A walking boot is meant to accelerate healing and during the night, the healing ability of your body is working at its best. So, wearing it while sleeping is a good way to promote recovery.
With my free time during recovery, I thought to do some research on the subject. And I landed on some pretty good pieces of information from my friends, doctors, and the internet.
In this article, I will give you an elaborate explanation of whether you should sleep with your walking boots and how you can make them more comfortable.
Should You Wear a Boot to Bed?
If it’s a regular pair of boots that you use during your daily commute, I would not wear it to bed. Even if you clean it when you get home, it picks up many germs and dirt that do not go away unless you deep-clean your boots. Besides, wearing a boot while sleeping makes me feel suffocated, but maybe that’s just me.
However, with walking boots that you have to wear for medical reasons, the answer is not so simple. Some injuries require you to wear it overnight while sleeping to accelerate the healing process. So, it is best to consult your doctor about whether you can take your walking boots off while going to bed.
Side Effects of Wearing a Walking Boot?
Since I love taking a long stroll from time to time or indulging in soccer with friends in my free time, I was always worried whether the walking boot would leave any long-term side effects on my posture or physique. But after some research, I quickly realized that I had nothing to worry about.
If your doctor prescribed your walking shoes, you should not have to worry about any long-term side effects. Apart from the initial discomfort of having to wear it the whole day, once you recover, you will be able to enjoy your life the way you always did. I’m speaking from first-hand experience here.
There are cases, however, of people developing pain in the hip and knee after wearing walking boots for a long time. If you are experiencing these symptoms, make sure you consult your doctor immediately. But the chance of misalignment due to walking shoes is almost slim to none.
Do I Need to Wear Walking Boot All the Time?
If you are wearing it for medical reasons, then you should absolutely wear it the entire day and night. You should only take off your shoes after consulting your doctor. Remember, this device is meant to accelerate the healing process, and you do not want to delay it by removing it whenever you feel like it.
Why Should You Wear Walking Boots at Night?
Wearing a boot, even for medical reasons, might seem counter-intuitive, but there are actually some pretty valid reasons behind it. After some research, here are a few reasons I could find about why you should wear walking boots while sleeping.
1. To accelerate healing
After an ankle injury, your first priority should be healing. To accelerate the healing process, you do not want to provoke the injury even in the slightest. When you sleep, your body moves around unknowingly. And the unconscious movements can aggravate your injury without you even realizing it.
Wearing a walking boot while sleeping will keep your legs planted in the right posture. So, you will not be at risk of further aggravating your injury which can disrupt the healing process.
2. To help you get used to it
Let’s face it. Nobody likes having to wear a walking boot. It is bulky, and keeping it on the whole day can get quite uncomfortable. Well, since it is a requirement for your healing, you have no other option but to power through the entire experience.
By wearing it the entire night, you will slowly get accustomed to the feeling. Over time, it will not feel as uncomfortable as it did at first. Think of it as an exercise regime where you need to give it some time and things will work out eventually.
3. As a reminder
Sure, you might be a calm and composed person who thinks about his next step all the time. But after waking up, it takes a few seconds for the brain to take in all the surroundings. If you do not have your walking shoes on, it is very easy to forget that you have a foot injury right after you wake up.
Wearing the shoe will serve as a constant reminder that you need to take things easy.
5 Steps to Reducing the Discomfort
When I first had to wear walking boots while sleeping, I struggled a lot. I like to sleep wearing light pyjama pants and a t-shirt and having to wear a walking boot on top of that was not very comfortable. After consulting my doctor and a couple of my friends, I learned a few tricks to make it a bit more bearable.
If you are struggling with the same issue, here are five simple ways you can reduce the discomfort while wearing walking shoes while sleeping.
Loosen the straps
When you are laying down, you can loosen the straps of your walking boots to give you a bit more breathing space. During the day, when you have to walk from one place to the other, a loose strap on your boot can cause you to lose your balance.
However, since you are laying down, you do not have to worry about it. So, feel free to loosen the straps slightly so that you can feel a bit more comfortable when you are going to bed.
Use a gel heel
In my personal experience, I noticed that most of the pain and discomfort from having to wear walking shoes while sleeping were concentrated on the heel of my foot. Using a heel gel felt like a simple and straightforward way to reduce some of the discomforts.
These gels work like cushioning and keep your heel from knocking against the boot. And the best thing about it is that it has no side effects.
Use a pillow
Using a pillow under the foot whether you have walking boots on or off is a great way to get some emergency pain relief. So, if you feel uncomfortable, use a soft pillow to raise your feet slightly higher than your body. It will also prevent any swelling of the foot when you are sleeping.
Taking it off periodically
Unless your doctor has strictly advised you against it, it is a good idea to take off your walking shoes from time to time. In most cases, walking shoes are designed to protect your feet while walking so that you do not aggravate your injury.
However, if you are sitting down or sleeping, you should not have to worry about hurting your injured foot. In that case, there is absolutely no reason to keep wearing it when you are going to bed. I was not that lucky since my doctor warned me about taking it off, but maybe you are.
A word of warning before you proceed, you should never take any medications without consulting your doctor. But if it gets too uncomfortable to sleep with your walking boots on, reach out to your doctor and talk to him. He might prescribe certain medications to make it more comfortable for you.
How Long to Wear a Walking Boot?
Ideally, you should wear a walking boot 24/7. This is not a fashion accessory that you wear when you feel like it. Since it is a medical device, and your doctor prescribed it, you should not take it off without any valid reason. If you absolutely have to, though, remember to call your doctor beforehand.
Even when you are sleeping, you should not take it off. People with severe injury in their foot will in fact find more pain relief by keeping it on. It applies enough compression on the feet to prevent swelling and promote pain relief. So, there is no reason to take it off until you are fully healed.
Sleeping with a walking boot might be uncomfortable, but it is a necessary trial that you must endure on your way to recovery. I had my fair share of trouble getting used to it, but the few tricks that I mentioned did make things a bit easier.
To summarize, yes, you should sleep with your walking boots on. And if your doctor says it’s okay, feel free to take it off before going to bed. Here’s to hoping you recover soon. Good luck!