Why Wear Special Shoes for Diabetes?

No one told me that Type 2 diabetes would make my feet hurt. It was one of those surprises that developed after a few years with this sneaky condition.

Burning feet from what my podiatrist called plantar fasciitis was just the beginning. Heel spurs made walking a misery. On top of it all, I was dealing with peripheral neuropathy, the numbness and pain in feet, hands, arms, and legs that comes along with nerve damage from high blood sugar.

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I did not become aware of my Type 2 diabetes until it had been around for a while. If that happened to you as well, your smallest blood vessels and nerves may have already been damaged before you began treating your diabetes. Early signs of this are feet that feel numb in some spots and extremely sensitive in others. Worst of all, diabetes can also make sores and scratches slow to heal.

Reading about foot ulcers and amputations brought home to me how important it is to take care of my feet. Because they take a beating every day, our feet deserve extra care and protection. Diabetes makes this absolutely necessary.

My podiatrist recommended shoes made for people with diabetes. If your doctor does too, I encourage you to listen. My feet are living proof that those shoes work. Because of them I can walk again.

How are shoes for diabetes different?
Shoes for people with diabetes have a higher, wider toe box, giving your toes extra wiggle room. Toes that rub against each other or against a shoe get hot spots and blisters. Those do not heal for us as fast as they did before we had diabetes.

Nerve damage caused by diabetes can make your toes feel numb. If this is the case, they cannot warn you when they are rubbing and blistering. The extra room in diabetes shoes protects your toes while you stand and walk.

Now that you have diabetes, you need shoes that support your arches, ankles, and heels. Going barefoot is out. Flip-flops are out.

Some people may overpronate (roll the feet too far inward) or underpronate (not roll the feet inward enough) when walking, which can also cause hot spots that may develop into blisters and sores. So the soles of shoes for people with diabetes have special stabilizers to keep feet level.

You will notice that the soles are thick and wide. Thicker soles cushion your feet from wear and tear, and that little bit of extra width helps your feet to avoid those hot spots.

Shoes made for people with diabetes also tend to be deeper than other shoes to make room for orthotics — the inserts that correct an uneven stride, cushion the heel, or support arches. Many of us with Type 2 diabetes use these inserts, so we need the extra depth.

What should you watch for?
Any shoes you’re considering purchasing should have no inner seams that could rub and cause a blister or hot spot. Before you buy any shoe, run your fingers around inside to make sure the inner lining is smooth.

Slip-ons are not a good idea because they cannot be adjusted. Feet tend to swell as the day goes on, meaning that slip-on shoes that fit well in the morning may chafe or cut off circulation in the afternoon. Velcro fasteners or lace-ups make a better choice.

Your shoes also should have an insole that can be removed. This is important because you may need to replace it with an orthotic you get with a prescription or over the counter.

Always try on before you buy, and shop for shoes in the afternoon when your feet have swelled a bit. Most shoes are cheaper to buy online, but there is no substitute for trying new shoes on first. After you find a brand and size of shoe that works for your feet, you can buy online with confidence.

I have found great shoes that work for my feet without having to go to sites dedicated to people with diabetes. Many shoemakers provide products aimed at customers with special needs. Because there are so many people with diabetes, you will find good shoes everywhere in a wide range of prices and styles.

Shoes for people with diabetes may not win any fashion awards, but they will protect your at-risk feet. There is nothing more enjoyable than walking again without pain. Because heel spurs and plantar fasciitis no longer hold me back, I believe it is possible for you to overcome painful foot conditions as well.

Take good care of your feet and keep them happy as long as you can. Whatever happens, I hope this information helps you on your journey with Type 2 diabetes.

  • Sally P

    Thanks for the information on diabetic shoes. I recently had a blister on the side of my little toe and saw a podiatrist who also recommended I look into these shoes. It’s been hard finding a store near me with a good selection however. Does anyone have any suggestions on where to find diabetic shoes in more styles?