If the Shoe Fits…

Are you sure that the shoes you wear are the right size for your feet? A recent study suggests that a large proportion of people with diabetes may be wearing the wrong size shoes, potentially exposing themselves to foot injuries that could lead to complications such as foot ulcers and amputation.

The study, which took place in Dundee, Scotland, and was published in the November issue of the International Journal of Clinical Practice, involved 100 volunteers with diabetes aged 24 to 89. These volunteers had their feet fully examined and measured in both a seated and a standing position; their shoes were also measured. People who wore specialty footwear or were attending specialist foot clinics were excluded from the study.


The researchers concluded that 63% of the volunteers were wearing the wrong size shoes. Wrong width was the problem for 45% of the volunteers, with the majority wearing shoes that were too narrow for their feet. Interestingly, whether or not a person had decreased feeling in his feet (which can occur with diabetic nerve damage, or neuropathy[1]) did not affect his chances of wearing a wrong size shoe.

The study turned up a few more eye-opening statistics. For example, while almost half of the volunteers had experienced foot problems such as ulcers, calluses, bunions, corns, or swelling, only 29% examined their feet daily. In fact, 22% of the volunteers said they never checked their feet at all. Experts recommend that people who have diabetes inspect their feet every day to look for foot problems that they may not be able to feel and make sure that any existing injuries are healing.

The researchers involved in this study suggest that shoe-fitting problems—and by extension, many foot problems—could be diminished if more shoe stores offered foot-measuring services for adults. They also called for shoe manufacturers to standardize shoe sizes and offer a wider range of lengths and widths in their shoes. However, there are also steps that you can take to make sure that the shoes you buy fit you properly. For guidance on finding a pair of shoes that fits, check out our article “How to Choose Footwear.”[2] And for more tips on daily foot care, check out “What Can I Do to Take Care of My Feet?”[3] which is part of the article “Taking Steps Toward Healthy Feet.”[4] All of these articles are found in the “Foot Care”[5] section of DiabetesSelfManagement.com[6].

  1. neuropathy: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/articles/Diabetes_Definitions/Neuropathy
  2. “How to Choose Footwear.”: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/articles/Foot_Care/How_to_Choose_Footwear
  3. “What Can I Do to Take Care of My Feet?”: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/articles/Diabetes_Basics/Taking_Steps_Toward_Healthy_Feet_What_Can_I_Do_to_Take_Care_of_My_Feet
  4. “Taking Steps Toward Healthy Feet.”: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/articles/Diabetes_Basics/Taking_Steps_Toward_Healthy_Feet
  5. “Foot Care”: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/articles/Foot_Care
  6. DiabetesSelfManagement.com: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/

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Tara Dairman: Tara Dairman is a former Web Editor of DiabetesSelfManagement.com. (Tara Dairman is not a medical professional.)

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