[Over the past 30 years, I’ve seen plenty of motorcycle riders in the ER and the ICU with all types of injuries. This has sure helped me keep a focus on rider safety, and I’ll be sharing here each month some of what I’ve learned….and what I think. Ride safe, Douglas County HOG!]
Edition #6. The Importance of Ankle Protection
Yes, protecting your head and hands and torso are at the top of the list when riding a motorcycle. But, your feet and ankles are important too, and injuries down there can be very debilitating and inconvenient…..not to mention painful.
Foot and ankle protection requires an over-the-ankle style boot or shoe, and the best ones also have a slip resistant sole. The material should be able to hold up while it is sliding on pavement, and any boot or over-the-ankle shoe will also provide some protection against inversion or eversion injuries, i.e., twisting or rolling the foot and ankle.
The “ankle bones” that protrude out each side of our ankles are the medial malleolus (inside) and lateral malleolus (outside). These malleoli are really just bone covered by a thin layer of skin. There is minimal subcutaneous fat under that skin, so there is no cushion there at all. The skin overlying a malleolus bone will be sheared off in a moment if that area is in contact with pavement or gravel while sliding…..even if it’s just a couple feet. Open and exposed bone is at high risk for fractures and for infection.
But, it’s not just the bones that will be injured. Tendons and ligaments that hold the ankle together and allow movement of the foot and toes lie just ahead of and behind these bones, and crush injuries or sliding/abrading in this area can peel these important structures away.
When I see someone riding with sandals or tennis shoes, it makes me cringe.
I’ve seen lots of foot and ankle injuries caused by motorcycle crashes. The saddest ones are the fractures, missing skin, missing tendons and ligaments, and bad twisting injuries that occurred in relatively slow speed events. And, many of these injuries could very likely have been prevented by proper motorcycle over-the-ankle boots. Many of these injuries require hospitalization, surgery, and skin grafts, and these riders are often on crutches or in a wheelchair for weeks. You really can’t ride with only one functioning leg and foot.
Harley Davidson sells dozens of styles of riding boots. Any of these over-the-ankle selections will offer the protection you will want in a crash.
Let’s be safe out there!
MD, DCCC Member
’22 Road King Special Rider