Vail Daily column: Where your boot meets the road
As winter has now fallen upon us, many of us have put snow tires on our cars. Researching the best tires for our particular car is often an interesting process. There seems to be so many variables when choosing just the right winter tire; all-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, SUV, cross-over, sedan. Then, there are additional choices of winter-specific, studless, studs and all-season. Sifting through all the choices and cost variables takes time.
However, this article is not about tires. I mention tires because we place so much importance on the proper tires that keep ourselves and our families safe yet many of us don’t have the same consideration for the shoes we wear in the winter. Falls due to ice and snow are one of the most common injuries causing people to visit the hospital. Proper choices in our winter footwear are as important as our winter tire choices.
While appropriate footwear is critical for technical activities like hiking, running, sports and walking, it’s also as important for everyday life throughout the winter. Winter shoes and boots need to provide not only traction, but warmth and comfort. Here are some suggestions for choosing the right shoe or boot:
• Comfort and coziness
• Ankle support
• Water resistance
• Ease to take on and off
In general, winter shoes should provide versatility for both indoor and outdoor safety. This means that a shoe tread should be chosen that offers slip protection when on flat indoor surfaces and traction while outdoors on the snow and ice. That’s a lot of variable to place on one product.
For winter conditions here in the mountains, often the most versatile choice for foot gear is a lightweight waterproof boot with insulated lining, preferably faux shearling. You should make sure that you do not choose a boot that is more hiking specific than general purpose. Hiking boots often have a harder rubber sole and stiffer boot support than other boot types, thus not conducive for the indoors and comfort.
A good all-around choice boot should be light weight, waterproof and be at least mid-ankle height so that when you come across slushy snow or puddles of water, your feet stay dry. Be aware that just because a boot may be mid-ankle or higher, it does not mean that it will provide a high level of ankle support. Look for padded sides, a firm structure and lacing all the way to the top to make sure the ankle will be well supported. As for tread choice, look for footwear that offers deep lugs or a gummed rubber sole as these will most often provide greater traction versatility.
For persons with balance and gait concerns, your choices in footwear may differ. Locally, podiatrist Brian Maurer at Eagle-Summit Foot & Ankle P.C. is a great resource for assessing your needs and providing guidance on proper footwear.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, go to http://www.visiting angels.com/comtns or call 970-328-5526.