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Diabetic Shoes

Updated on September 18, 2010

If you are a Diabetic you may or may not realize how your condition specifically affects your feet. There are now several types of shoes for diabetics on the market and this article will walk you through the main features that you should be aware of when shopping for diabetic shoes.

Diabetic Shoe
Diabetic Shoe

How Does Diabetes Affect My Feet?

People suffering from diabetes have compromised pancreatic functioning. Simply put, this means their pancreas either doesn’t produce any or enough insulin. Because insulin is the hormone responsible for controlling our blood sugar levels this causes disruptions in our blood system particularly your veins. Diabetics commonly report problems affecting their vision, kidney function and their hands and legs. The problems with your feet are mainly the result of poor circulation leading to a loss of sensation in your feet.

Small foot problems for diabetics can be magnified due to their hyposensitivity or lack of feeling. A minor sore or cut can lead to something more serious as your feet not only take longer to heal but may also have trouble resisting any possible infections. In extreme cases a non healing wound can develop from small unnoticed foreign object in your shoe and the resulting infection could require surgery or amputation. In most cases suitable footwear will drastically reduce the chances of your feet developing problems.

Features of Diabetic Shoes

Shoes for diabetics are made will all the aforementioned problems in mind. and the following features will be present in all diabetic shoes.

Excellent Ventilation

Air flow is a big concern with diabetic shoes. You should ensure that the shoes have proper ventilation so that any sweat can evaporate quickly. The improved air flow also helps to regulate the temperature inside the shoes so your feet don’t get too hot. A warm dark and moist environment is where bacteria thrives hence many diabetic shoes will have a light upper made from neoprene or something similar. Shoes which let your foot breathe will also promote the circulation.

Minimal or no Seams

Shoes for diabetic patient need to be seamless or near seamless. Seams can cause added friction and irritation feet which are already quite sensitive. Many diabetics have sores and other existing foot problems such as blisters and calluses which can be made worse by rubbing against the shoe seams. The lining of all diabetic shoes are smooth and soft and any seams are covered. You may also find some lined with deerskin or other similar materials.

Wider at the toes

The toes are a common problem area for diabetics. Good shoes will have a higher toe box to prevent the toes from bunching up and any pinching. The toe box also needs to be durable to protect the feet from bumping into anything, as the skin between the toes is particularly soft. The form fitting materials used for the shoes can also accommodate foot deformities like hammer toes and calluses.

Removable Insoles

Many diabetics use custom orthotics and shoe inserts hence it is important to be able to place them correctly into the shoes. Diabetic orthotics help to distribute weight evenly across the foot and adjust for any specific problems. The standard insoles in the diabetic shoe should provide both support and cushioning. The ability to remove them allows you to both accommodate an orthotic and adjust the fit individually.

Diabetic shoes are commonly both deeper and wider than ordinary trainers. Some brands come with 2 removable insoles to make added room inside the shoe and supplement an orthotic with more cushioning.

Adjustable Fit

The shoes should have an easily adjustable fit. Many diabetic shoes use elastic or some Velcro straps for comfort and so the shoes can be adjusted quickly. The shoes should never be too tight and many conventional lace ups can constrict the main blood vessels serving the foot at the front of the ankle. Good shoes diabetic or otherwise should be secure without being tight.

The fit of your shoe is the most important issue and there are some things that you should keep in mind when you are trying on your shoes in the store. If you wear any orthotics then bring them with you to the store. Your orthotic will feel slightly different inside each shoe and may feel significantly different from your existing pair. You should also bring the socks you usually wear, some stores will sell socks for diabetics if you want to take the extra precaution. Bringing your own socks is not only a fit issue but a hygiene one, the try on socks in the store may not be the cleanest, and your own feet may not be either.

The time of day will also play a part in the fit of your shoes. It’s best to shop for shoes in the afternoon when it is warmest and your feet are at their largest. A difference of half a size is not uncommon from the morning to late in the day. In addition be sure that BOTH of your feet get measured as there is often a half size difference between your left and right foot.

Diabetic shoe stores and some selected retailers will have a range of suitable footwear. These may not necessarily be branded as specific for diabetics though they carry features that are beneficial to a raft of foot problems. Developing the right diabetes foot care habits in conjunction with the right shoes and socks will keep your problems at bay.  If you are unsure you should consult with your Podiatrist as to which shoe would be best for you. In some instances your shoes will need to be custom made though for the vast majority of diabetics chances are the right shoe is already waiting for you on the store shelves.

Diabetic Shoes


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