Metabolic Health

Footwear for People With Diabetes

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

You may wonder why diabetics would require special shoes. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to many health issues and can also damage the nerves in the feet, which can lead to neuropathy. In diabetic neuropathy, an individual loses sensations in the feet. This means that when there is a cut or injury in the foot, a diabetic person may not feel it, which can lead to infection. Diabetics have a tough time fighting any infection. Uncontrolled diabetes can also cause poor circulation, which can result in diabetic foot ulcers and blisters. The infections can also spread to other organs, or the infection does not heal, leading to gangrene. Gangrene can even lead to amputation in severe cases. Therefore, diabetics need to take extra care of their feet. Wearing the right kind of footwear ensures blood circulation in the feet and also helps to reduce the risk of any disease.

Many things can be done to take care of your feet- washing your feet every day, not walking barefoot, cutting your nails straight across, and of course, buying appropriate footwear for your feet. Many different types of footwear are appropriate for diabetics.

Types of diabetic footwear

In-depth shoes:

In-depth shoes are shoes that have extra room for those suffering from foot issues such as corns or hammertoes. These shoes have ¼ inch extra depth for comfort and to prevent unnecessary chafing.

Custom-made shoes:

Custom-made shoes are a good choice if your feet have a deformity. These shoes are created using a mould of your feet; therefore, they are customised as per your requirements.

Healing Shoes:

Healing shoes are worn while you recover from an injury or foot surgery. Depending on your requirement, they can be open-toed or close-toed. Generally, most doctors do not recommend open-toe shoes for people suffering from diabetes because they may make them more prone to injury. You can also modify the shoes you already own by adding a thicker, more absorbent sole or you can also add orthotics to your footwear. Orthotics are foot pads that take the pressure off your feet and provide additional support or comfort.

Where to find diabetic-friendly footwear?

Some specialists deal exclusively in diabetic-friendly footwear and can design shoes as per your requirements. Your doctor- an endocrinologist or a podiatrist- can recommend the type of footwear you need and can guide you towards the right person. An orthotist is a medical practitioner that can design, prescribe and make diabetes footwear. A pedorthist is trained to fit and modify shoes. You can find these shoes at a pharmaceutical store or even an online store. Sometimes, they can be customised specially for you.

Brands such as Dr. Scholl’s and Hush Puppies etc. manufacture therapeutic or orthopaedic shoes. Sneaker brands such as New Balance and Skechers also manufacture orthopaedic shoes. There are specialist stores that deal exclusively in footwear for diabetics and other orthopaedic requirements. HealthFit, Doctor Choice and TechnoFit are some of the popular Indian brands that offer shoes for those suffering from diabetes-related foot ailments.

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Features to Look for in diabetic-friendly footwear

While purchasing diabetic-friendly footwear, the following features should be considered:

  • Look for footwear that is well-cushioned and has a soft insole.
  • Foam padding helps with cushioning and comfort and also helps in the distribution of weight across the feet. It helps to relieve heel and foot pain and reduces pressure on the bottom of the foot.
  • The shoe should be made of a soft fabric so that it allows for easy insertion of orthodontics and thick insoles. A softer material also allows for movement of the toes inside the shoe, which prevent blisters and ulcers from developing.
  • A good diabetic shoe should have a carbon rubber outsole, and it should be flexible and resilient. This allows the shoe to contour to the shape of your foot and eliminates the pressure points off your foot.
  • Check for air pockets. A good diabetic show should have air pockets, which helps to alleviate the stress on the joints.
  • Look for shoes with comfortable arch support because that may lead to the breakdown of tissues in your foot.

Avoid the following features while purchasing diabetic-friendly footwear

  • Do not buy shoes that are too pointed or narrow.
  • Do not buy shoes that are too flat or high-heeled because they don’t allow for even distribution of foot pressure.
  • Do not wear shoes without arch support.
  • Do not buy shoes that are uncomfortable in the hope that they will be fine after a bit. Tight shoes restrict the circulation of your feet and can cause injury.
  • Do not wear very high heels. Heels under 2 inches with round toes are most recommended.

Diabetic socks

Diabetic socks are designed to keep the feet dry and sweat-free. They decrease the risk of foot injuries and enhance blood circulation. However, all diabetics do not need to wear diabetic socks. If one doesn’t suffer from any foot problems, then regular, well-fitting socks are good enough. Diabetic socks are made from moisture-wicking material to keep the feed dry and sweat-free. They are generally seamless to avoid rubbing and chaffing; hence, lowering the chance of ulcers and blisters. Also, these socks may be made from fine-textured fabrics such as bamboo and wool, which have antimicrobial properties. Popular footwear brands such as Dr. Scholl’s also offers diabetic socks and you should be able to find a wide variety on online stores such as Amazon.

Bottomline

‘Prevention is better than cure’- People suffering from diabetes need to take extra care of their feet for the aforementioned reasons. Be it socks or shoes, many options are available these days. It is very important to take care of your feet, especially if you are suffering from diabetes. Make sure you wash them well every day and keep them dry and clean. In case you notice anything different, consult your doctor for the right advice and suggestions. Your doctor can guide you on how to take care of your feet and if required, can also guide you to the right footwear.

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