What is an Air Cast Boot?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Air cast boot may be used with crutches.
Air cast boot may be used with crutches.

When a person breaks a foot, ankle, or lower leg, they have the option to get the injured extremity sealed in a hard cast, or with their doctor's approval, they can opt for an air cast boot. An air cast boot encases the injured joint or foot inside an air cushion, which is in turn encased in a hard plastic shell. As an alternative to a traditional cast, the air cast boot promotes faster healing time, more mobility, and the ability to remove the cast so the injury can be exposed to fresh air or for convenience when showering. The boot is also more commonly used as a transition between a hard cast and no cast at all.

An air cast boot is custom fit.
An air cast boot is custom fit.

A patient must first and foremost check with their doctor to see if the air cast boot is the right choice for them. The boot should only be used as an alternative to a hard cast for minor injuries; otherwise, it can be used after a hard cast is taken off and before the ankle or foot is strong enough to bear weight on its own. The air cast boot allows a patient to slowly and safely promote strength in the foot or ankle, thereby allowing them to put weight on the injury more quickly after the injury occurs. It does so by keeping the foot and ankle at a constant angle but allowing a limited amount of movement within the cast, promoting mobility.

An x-ray can be used to examine broken bones.
An x-ray can be used to examine broken bones.

The air cells within the air cast boot are adjustable and can be made stiffer or softer by using a bulb pump. The hard shell of the boot keeps the ankle or foot in place, thereby reducing the possibility of re-injury caused by excessive movement. The hard shell also protects against external impacts. The sole of the boot is typically coated with non-skid material for safety and stability. By adjusting the boot using the Velcro® straps and the adjustable air cells, a patient can also reduce the risk of suffering from edema.

Unlike the traditional foot cast, an air cast boot can be removed.
Unlike the traditional foot cast, an air cast boot can be removed.

Depending on the severity of the injury, some patients may be able to use the air cast boot without crutches, thereby freeing their hands from the constraints of the crutches. Before attempting to walk without crutches, however, a patient should consult a doctor to prevent re-injuring the foot or ankle. The air cast boot is custom-fit to a patient, which increases comfort and the likelihood that the injury will heal correctly.

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Discussion Comments


I have an air boot for a broken heel bone. It is somewhat heavy and I have crutches but do not use them much. Since I am not using the crutches, I tend to walk on my toes on that foot so I do not make the bone any worse. I was sleeping in it but it was so uncomfortable I took it off and slept much better. I just put it back on as soon as I am out of bed. I also take it off when I shower.


I had a Brostrom procedure and opted for the aircast instead of a cast, mainly due to some cast claustrophobia. The doctor said it gives me the same support as the fiberglass cast as long as I wear it and I am determined to follow his advice, but for comfort I need as much of my foot exposed as possible.

I live in Arizona and it's already over 100 degrees here. All I want to do is uncover my toes. I don't see that covering my toes up has any support benefit for an ankle injury and I've been allowed to wiggle my toes for two weeks now in my splint. The plastic plate at the top of my foot and the velcro is still going to keep my foot fairly motionless.

Can I cut off the flap at the end and the very toe part of the stockinette without compromising any support or without exposing myself to any chafing?


I can't see that just a boot would be much use for a sprain. Far more useful would be compressive support bandages - at least in my experience (I've had a few sprained ankles).

The air cast would not take well to being soaked in a shower as it's lined with foam that will thus get soggy. If you want a shower the recommendation is to use a shower chair so you can free the leg and wash it without putting weight on it.

And the ability to take it off is huge. To be able to sit down on the couch and put your leg up free of Das Boot is priceless. The stockings easily get caught on the velcro fastenings, so it's worth having a number on hand.

I was told I had to keep it in on in bed, so I did. I'd as soon have not, but I was interested in healing as fast as possible so I wasn't going to challenge Ortho-mans instructions.

I also found the flat base of the air cast to be annoyingly unsupportive - so I picked up some quality show inserts and tried putting one inside the stocking, which kept it on the foot in the aircast. This helped immensely in supporting the foot/instep and heel - though, of course, your mileage may vary and I'd recommend talking to your doctor first depending on what your injury was. In my case, a totally ruptured Achilles repaired by an FHL transfer.


I dislocated my ankle and fracture my fibula, slipping on ice. I had two screws put in. Wearing the air cast sleeve (it's a long, loose cotton stocking) is a must to reduce discomfort. If you did not get this at the clinic, you can order them online.

I reduce the inflation a bit at night for comfort. If there is pain from pressure on the injury point, shin, or on the sutures, you can use large band aids. I use the ones with antibiotics as this adds moisture and also helps reduce scarring. Odor Eaters powder helps cool off the foot and prevents odors. --GLTA


My son broke his ankle and is in an air cast and we were told not to wear it in the shower. @naturegurl3: He can only take it off for baths or showers and that is it.


Can I use an aircast and go totally without crutches three weeks after my bone graft surgery?


I need an air cast boot for my foot. I had a minor fracture on my foot. How much is the air cast boot going to cost me? --Funmi, Lagos, Nigeria


I have a question: can I wear boot cast to bed because I have hard sleeps and do not want to bang anything to hurt my foot. And even if you are staying at home, do you have to wear it? I thought it was a walking boot for outdoors.


I sprained my foot and was given a boot. After two hours of wearing it, my heel was killing me. I have plantar fasciitis on both heels. Now what?


Do you wear it 24/7 other than showering or cleaning the boot, e.g., do you take it off at night?


You can wear it in the shower covered like any other cast, if you can't put any weight on the foot and might slip in the shower. You can't wear it uncovered as there is a lot of padding, etc., that would not be good if wet!


I needed someone's advice. with cast boots, must you use crutches? Will be grateful if someone could say.


@naturesgurl3 -- I think that while you could wear it in the shower, the whole point of wearing an air cast is that you can take it off, so that you can shower without it.

So although you probably could wear one in the shower, you really shouldn't, and there's really no reason not to take it off -- I mean, that's what they are designed to do.


Can you wear an air cast in the shower? Since it's plastic I thought that would be OK, but my brother says you can't.

Does anybody know?


I was so glad that I had an air cast walking boot when I sprained my ankle -- it was so much more convenient than if I had to wear a hard cast.

However, I know it is important for the patient to know how to reapply the cast properly.

In fact, this is one of the biggest disadvantages of air casts. If the patient puts it back on incorrectly then it can keep the injury from healing properly, or even delay the healing process altogether.

So if you get an air cast, be sure to follow all the doctor's instructions -- it will really save you some headaches down the road.

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