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Diabetic Shoes? What's that?

Posted by Barry on 6/29/2018 to Health & Footwear

What Makes Diabetic Shoes Different?

Diabetic Shoes have a higher, wider toe box, allowing extra wiggle room for toes. If toes rub against each other or against the shoe lining, hot spots and blisters can be created. Those sores do not heal as quickly for diabetics as they do for most other people.

Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage caused by diabetes) can reduce sensation in the foot. Because of this, a diabetic may not notice rubbing and blistering. The extra room in diabetic footwear reduces the risk of skin abrasion.

Diabetics need shoes that support and protect arches, ankles, and heels. Some people overpronate (roll the feet too far inward) when walking, which can also cause hot spots to develop into blisters and sores. To minimize these problems and stabilize the foot, many diabetic shoes are made with special stabilizers to keep feet in a neutral position.

Diabetic shoes should have full-length cushioning and a relatively wide footprint. These combine to both protect your feet by minimizing hot spots and stabilize the foot. Diabetic shoes also have deeper interiors than other shoes to make room for orthotics — the inserts that correct an uneven stride, cushion the heel, or support arches. 

What to Look For in Diabetic Footwear

Make sure the shoes you select have no inner seams that could rub and cause a blister or hot spot. Run your fingers around inside to make sure the inner lining is smooth. 
Make sure any seams are finished in a way that will not cause irritation or abrasion.

Diabetic shoes should have a method for adjusting the fit. Because feet swell over the course of a day, slip-on shoes that fit well in the morning may chafe or cut off circulation by the afternoon. Select shoes that have either adjustable straps or laces.

Your shoes also should have an insole that can be removed. That insole should be replaced with a new one periodically to maintain the proper cushioning and support. It may also be necessary to remove the insole and replace it with a custom-orthotic for some people.

A reinforced toe box is important to protect the toes from impact. In most situations it is not necessary to have a steel toe, but some added stiffness to the part of the upper that covers the toe is beneficial to diabetics. 

A good diabetic shoe will also have a reinforced area covering the heel of the foot. Reinforcement is achieved with an internal component known as the “heel counter”. Gently squeeze the heel of the shoe to see if that area is firm, almost rigid. A firm heel counter will help protect the heel and stabilize the foot.

Lastly, a good diabetic shoe will have an upper made from quality materials that will conform to the foot and breathe. Full grain leather is an excellent choice, but some synthetics and textiles can also do the trick. Avoid stiff materials.