Many people wait until the arrival of the first snow before pulling out their winter boots, and the minute the snow has melted in the spring, quickly move them to the back of the closet until the following winter. Although trying to keep winter at bay for as long as possible may give you a psychological lift, it is important to pull out your winter footwear well before the onset of winter to make sure it doesn’t need replacing.

Here are some tips I share with my patients:
• You may only wear winter footwear for a few months each year but it doesn’t last indefinitely. Boots usually last one to three seasons and they become a hazard when they are out of date. Boots that are well worn can have wear patterns that change how you walk and their soles can become slippery. As boots age, their outsoles harden which means they provide less traction.
• Canadian winters bring a lot of ice and snow so it is important your boots have traction. To minimize slipping, look for footwear that has a more aggressive tread and a sole made with softer materials such as rubber. If slippery conditions are common in your area, or you’re concerned about falling, buy cleats that stretch over your footwear for extra traction.
• Only wear footwear that keeps your feet dry. Wet feet increase the risk of frostbite and fungal or bacterial infection. Select footwear that is waterproof and wear moisture wicking socks to further protect your feet.
• Make sure your boots fit properly. When you are standing you should have approximately 1/4” of space after your toes to allow for warm air to circulate. Your boots should feel secure but still have room for you to wiggle your toes. Pull the flat liner out of the boot and stand on it. If your foot spills over the sides of the liner the boots are too small for you.
• If you need to wear orthotics, only purchase boots that fit your orthotics.
• If you spend a lot of time outside, choose a pair of boots with a colder temperature range than you need as they will provide you with extra comfort and protection.
• In addition to equipping yourself with activity-appropriate, properly fitted boots be sure to wear warm socks all the time. If you have poor sensation in your feet, Raynaud’s disease or diabetes, avoid using hot water bottles and heat pads as you won’t be able to feel if they burn your feet.
Canadian Certified Pedorthist are footwear experts so if you have any concerns about your individual footwear needs contact a pedorthist in your community.
By Jennifer Gould Andrew, C. Ped Tech (C), C Ped (C) Fredericton, New Brunswick