Winter weather has finally arrived this year. Getting outside for some activity, even in winter, is great for your overall health. However snow, ice, and cold can turn a stroll in the park into an obstacle course. Having proper footwear is not only important for warmth, but also the wellbeing of your feet. Choosing the correct boots for the elements could mean the difference between enjoying the outdoors and needing an urgent care visit. What makes good footwear for enjoying the outdoors safely?
Good traction is essential for walking outside in slippery conditions. If your shoes do not have good traction, you can buy ice cleat attachments. However, you likely already have something in your home that will help with increasing traction on icy sidewalks. The New Zealand Medical Journal published a study showing a significant improvement in traction by placing socks over normal footwear. In the study, those who wore socks over their shoes found walking on a hillside footpath less slippery and had increased confidence. You may look silly, but you are less likely to slip.
Having proper fitting shoes is also important when going outside. Shoes that are too tight could decrease circulation; leading to swelling of the feet and ankles. If they are too small, it can lead to ingrown toenails, corns, and calluses. Conversely, boots that are too loose can cause friction leading to blisters. Ill-fitting shoes can have poor arch support causing shin pain when walking. One might also be at higher risk for jamming a toe or spraining an ankle due to tripping or falling caused by improper fitting shoes.
Additionally having shoes that keep your feet warm and dry are crucial in the winter. Frostbite occurs most commonly in extremities, such as fingers, toes, or the nose. The first signs of frostbite are a pins and needles sensation, throbbing, or aching in the affected areas. Trench foot has similar symptoms, but is caused by feet being in a wet environment for a prolonged period of time. Wet socks and wet boots can lead to both of these injuries. It is important to dry out boots between uses and have clean, dry socks when going outside in the winter. Having boots with weatherproofing and insulation will also help prevent these issues from occurring.
Now that you know what “Boots are Made for Walking” and whether you are “Walking on Sunshine,” “Walking in Memphis,” or just want to “Walk the Line”. The proper winter boots will keep you upright and safe. We would not want you to fall and have anyone else “walk all over you.” So stay safe, get outside and stay healthy out there.
Jill Kruse, D.O. is part of The Prairie Doc® team of physicians and currently practices as a hospitalist in Brookings, South Dakota. Follow The Prairie Doc® at www.prairiedoc.org and on Facebook and Instagram featuring On Call with the Prairie Doc®, a medical Q&A show providing health information based on science, built on trust, streaming live on Facebook most Thursdays at 7 p.m. central.