Many people with diabetes benefit by using specially-crafted diabetes shoes, especially if they suffer from a loss of sensation in their feet. Diabetes shoes are designed to be soft, comfortable, and custom fitted to the feet, which many diabetics may not feel after they lose foot sensation.
Why Use a Diabetes Shoe?
Many diabetics develop a condition called peripheral neuropathy. When someone has peripheral neuropathy, they lose feeling in their extremities, including their feet, legs, and even hands. Because they suffer from a loss of feeling in these extremities, they can be unaware when their shoes rub, cut, or squeeze their feet. In such a situation, the diabetic person may unknowingly be injured by ill-fitting shoes.
What Makes a Diabetes Shoe Different?
A diabetes shoe tends to provide more room for the foot and for orthotic inserts than a normal shoe. Diabetes shoes tend to be wider and deeper than most other shoes and can be fitted with comfortable insoles.
In most cases, diabetics will have shoes custom made in order to ensure that the shoe distributes weight properly and fits the foot perfectly. Having a custom-made shoe can prevent rubbing, chafing, and loss of circulation to the foot that a person with diabetes may not notice because of the loss of sensation in the foot.
In addition to being specialty-crafted for the diabetic individual, diabetes shoes also tend to be manufactured with breathable fibers, such as fabric or netting, so that the foot has healthy air circulation. Good air circulation allows the skin to breathe, which helps to prevent pressure ulcers and increases blood circulation.
How to Find a Good Pair of Diabetes Shoes
- Look for fabrics that "breathe," such as canvas or even sandals. Breathable fibers will prevent your foot from sweating, swelling, and chafing.
- The shoes should be deep enough to accommodate an orthotic insert and wide enough to prevent pinching.
- Avoid shoes that have interior seams, which may rub against the skin and cause chafing.
- The toe box in the front of the shoe needs to be roomy enough so that you can wiggle your toes.
- Elastic in the shoes may also help to prevent the shoe from sliding around on the foot while holding it comfortably in place.
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These Shoes Are Made for Walking
If you're starting a walking program (see Type Free eNewsletter #3), get off on the right foot by buying a pair of walking shoes that fit properly. Here's how:
- Bring your walking socks when you shop for shoes.
- Look for shoes that are wide enough that your toes can move freely. There should be about a half inch between your toes and the end of the shoe. Your heel should not slip, and the shoe should not pinch or bind, especially across the arch or ball of your foot.
- Walking shoes should have a relatively flat heel and should be flexible enough that you can bend and twist them.
- Pick a shoe that is lightweight and breathable.
- Make sure shoes feel great when you put them on. Walking shoes shouldn't have to be worn in.
Here is a podcast offering tips on foot care to prevent complications, such as foot ulcers and amputation: Healthy Feet are Happy Feet. This podcast is 2 minutes and 23 seconds long. It's brought to you compliments of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Diabetes Education Program.