Bio Skin Pneumatic Walking Boot.

How Walking Boots Can Help Heal Ankle Sprains

A walking boot is a type of orthopedic shoe that you can wear to protect the ligaments and other structures of your ankle after you have suffered a severe sprain or even an ankle fracture. They are also beneficial during post operative rehabilitation of foot wounds. These boots are also sometimes called controlled ankle motion (CAM) walking boots or below knee walking boots, or even occasionally moon boots. Yet another name for these devices is “walking braces”. The boots play a similar role to a foot cast, but offer the advantages of being less tight and removable. Washing your injured foot is a lot easier if you can remove the boot first.

As we enter the winter season, the incidence of ankle sprains or other injuries tends to increase. Slips on ice or snow are unfortunately not uncommon at this time of the year. If your injury is severe, your doctor may prescribe the use of a walking boot to help your injury heal. In this article, we describe how these devices work. We will also introduce you to the various types of boots available. This will include a discussion of their respective pros and cons. Finally, we will provide suggestions on how you can choose a boot most appropriate to your particular situation.

If you are interested in staying reasonably active while your injury heals, we would definitely suggest that you consider a CAM boot among the range of options available to treat your ankle sprain.

How Does A Walking Boot Work?

Tall & Short versions of the Darco Air Traveler™. This walking boot includes an air bladder and 5 way strapping system to help speed the healing of an ankle sprain or other injury.
The DARCO Air Traveler pictured here includes an air bladder and 5 way strapping system to help speed the healing of an ankle sprain or other injury. Both the tall and short versions of this boot are pictured here.

Walking boots are designed to keep your foot and ankle as stable as possible during the healing period. They do this via the following features, most of which are present in most designs:

  • Air chambers or bladders that you can inflate with the use of a pump;
  • A rigid plastic shell that stabilizes and protects your leg;
  • Inner linings that enclose and cushion your foot and ankle;
  • Adjustable Velcro fasteners that make the walking boot capable of providing a close fit to a wide variety of foot and ankle sizes and shapes;
  • Shock absorption systems that reduce the impact of “heel strikes” as your foot hits the ground while you walk.

These features, and others you may find in some models, provide your foot and ankle with a stable and cushioned platform. This permits you to walk and continue your regular functions as your injury heals.

What Are The Different Types Of Walking Boot?

The boots normally come in 4 or five different sizes. Your appropriate size will normally be dependent on your shoe size

In addition, you will normally be able to choose between a tall and short version of the boot. The former will normally reach as high as your knee but the short version will normally only extend to around the midpoint between your ankle and knee.

CAM boots also come as either pneumatic or non pneumatic versions. Pneumatic boots are equipped with air bladders. When inflated, these bladders provide additional cushioning and support for your ankle sprain or other injury. This in turn improves pain relief and control of inflammation.

Yet another choice you can make is between open toe and closed toe walking boots. The DARCO Air Traveler pictured above is an example of the open toe design. The Bio Skin Walking Boot shown in the featured photo is also an open toe design.

Which Type Of CAM Boot Is Best For Me?

This type of question is best answered by your doctor. He or she will have done a complete examination of your injury and can use this information to choose a walking boot for you. However, we can make a few general comments:

  • Generally speaking, short walking boots are normally prescribed for recovery from foot surgery. They are also usually preferred for treatment of foot injuries such as fractures of the toes or the metatarsal bone. On the other hand, shorter boots may be preferable if you have an acute ankle sprain or a lower leg stress fracture or soft tissue injury.
  • If infection is a concern, your doctor may opt for a closed toe shoe to protect your injury from harmful elements such as moisture. He or she may also choose a closed toe walking boot if protection of your toes from impact with another object is a priority. If, however, your foot is extensively bandaged, the open toe CAM boot may be a better option. It will provide more room for the bandages, as well as for swelling if this is present.
  • The pneumatic walking boot is usually preferable to the non pneumatic version. As mentioned above, it provides additional support and stabilization for your injury and speeds up healing. However, these advantages may come at a somewhat higher cost for a pneumatic boot than for a non pneumatic one.

We would however like to reiterate that these are only general comments. You should consult with your physician before choosing a walking boot, and follow his or her advice.


We hope you have found this introduction to walking boots informative. Should you have any questions, you can always ask them here or raise them with your doctor. You may also find additional useful information on walking boots in this article.

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