Fall is here, meaning more people are having to grab their rain boots for walks in the park, to exercise the dogs, for fall yard work or to play with the kids in the mud.
Soon, those same people will be grabbing their winter boots – yes, for walking, exercising the hounds and playing in the snow but also for shoveling. Ugh.
Before heading out, in addition to grabbing your coat, hat, gloves and boots, don’t forget your orthotics.

Even if you think you’ll be outside for just a few minutes, we all know how that goes. Your dog wanted to go for a longer walk, your kids wanted your help with their snowman, the snow kept coming so the shoveling took longer. A few minutes turns into an hour and you’re walking around, and, in some cases, lifting without your orthoses.

People who are prescribed functional foot orthoses, diabetic inserts and ankle-foot orthoses (AFOs) have medical conditions that warrant the prescription. Walking around without them could cause problems, especially if you’re more physically active.

Use of a pair of custom orthoses always is dependent on activity level. The higher the activity level, the greater the forces the foot and ankle are required to bear.
People should always wear their orthoses in their boots, said Josh Robertson, PAL vice president of research and development. That’s even more important when people are more physically active, he said.

“Don’t let the weather dictate your orthotic use,” Robertson said. “Just because there’s snow on the ground doesn’t mean it’s time to stop using your orthotics.”
PAL Health Technologies’ prescription orthoses relieve medical conditions, such as plantar fasciitis, by providing a layer of cushioning, which adds shock absorption and helps to relieve pain. Going without them for an extended period of time isn’t a good idea because inflammation and pain can result.

A person with diabetic neuropathy experiences damaged nerves in the legs and feet, meaning they may have numbness. One danger of not wearing diabetic inserts is people, who can’t feel their feet, may be getting frostbite without knowing it.

People with ankle instability, a giving way of the outer side of the ankle, or drop foot -- difficulty lifting the front part of the foot because of a neurological, muscular or anatomical problem – benefit from ankle-foot orthoses. Not wearing them increases the risk of falls.

Whether people who wear orthoses, inserts or AFOs can get away with not wearing them from time to time when wearing boots depends on each patient’s current symptoms, pathology and activity level. But, generally, people should always wear their orthoses in their boots, particularly when physically active or when they will be outside for a while because, without the orthoses, you have no shock absorption, arch support and are at risk of sprains and breaks.

When purchasing boots or shoes, make sure they have extra depth to compensate for the potential thickness or width of the orthoses, diabetic insert or AFO, advised PAL Interim Executive Director Joe Kingdon.

The most important thing when purchasing footwear is to make sure they have removable insoles to create adequate room for the orthoses.
Check whether the orthoses that you use in your shoes will fit your boots, Robertson advised. If they do, great.

“If they don’t, we could make them an additional pair for their boots, they just need to send us the boots or insoles from the boots to match the size,” Robertson said.
If your orthoses, inserts or AFOs get wet from rain or snow, dry them with a cloth and place them at a sunny window to dry. Don’t use a clothes dryer or a hair dryer on orthoses because temperatures higher than 110 degrees Fahrenheit could cause top covers made of EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) to deform or delaminate from the rearfoot shell.

For more information, visit xtremity3d.com. To place an order, call PAL customer service at 800-223-2957.n

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