Pick the right boots for Canadian winters

(NC) Do you try to hold winter at bay by keeping your winter boots packed away until the first snowstorm hits? Although denying the inevitable onset of our harshest season may give you a psychological lift, experts say it's important to get your winter footwear out and thoroughly checked over well before winter arrives with a fury.

“Canadian winters are tough— frigid temperatures, ice-covered paths and endless snow and slush can cause serious harm unless you are prepared,” explains Peter Morcom, president of the Pedorthic Association of Canada and a Canadian certified pedorthist. “A quality pair of lined, properly fitted winter boots is essential for winter in Canada.”

Although he doesn't recommend one style or brand of boots, Morcom says these seven tips will help ensure you are well-equipped for everything winter has in store.

1. Winter footwear doesn't last indefinitely, typically only one to three seasons. If you are using the same pair of boots as last winter, inspect them closely to make sure there are no rips or cracks that could allow water to permeate.

2. Traction is key. To minimize slipping, select footwear that has a more aggressive tread and a sole made with softer materials such as rubber. If you have balance issues and are concerned about falling, buy cleats that stretch over your boots for extra traction.

3. Only buy footwear that is waterproof, and wear moisture-wicking socks to further protect your feet. Wet feet increase the risk of frostbite and fungal or bacterial infection.

4. Make sure your boots fit properly. Your feet can change size over time and footwear sizes differ from style to style, so have your feet measured every time and only buy boots that feel comfortable the first time you try them on.

5. 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.

6. Don't buy boots that aren't supportive. Some fashionable sheepskin styles of boots look cozy and warm but they won't provide the support your feet and lower limbs require. Stylish, leather-heeled boots should be kept for special occasions.

7. Don't ask your children to wear hand-me-down boots or buy boots with room for them to grow. Boots that are too big or too small will chafe or squish their toes, which will cause blisters and rubs.

Find more information at pedorthic.ca.

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