What Makes Diabetic Footwear Different?
Standard shoes (at least many of them) are already designed with comfort in mind, but extra consideration must be given to more vulnerable diabetic feet.
Diabetic footwear takes unique situations such as peripheral neuropathy, numbness, and a breakdown in skin integrity into account, providing features that help eliminate or mitigate potential problems that can be caused by them.
Many of these features seek to reduce pressure and irritation against the foot as much as possible. They can include:
- An interior that is made from soft fabrics and other materials.
- Stitching that either doesn’t protrude or does not exist altogether, which can help prevent rubbing against sensitive areas of the foot. Most diabetic socks are completely seamless!
- Uppers (the area that covers the top, sides, and back of the foot) that are non-binding and place no excess pressure on the foot. This is especially helpful in the forefoot and the back of the heel, where excess pressure can irritate bunions, corns, calluses, and sensitive areas of the heel.
- Extra overall depth (usually somewhere between a quarter-inch and half-inch deeper than standard shoes) that further reduces pressure. This also makes them able to better accommodate custom orthotic inserts for added benefits.
- A deep toe box, specifically, to allow extra room for toe movement. This helps prevent toes from cramming together or being forced against the inside of the shoe, which can result in corns and ingrown toenails.
Using Diabetic Footwear
In addition to the basic features listed above, diabetic shoes may be made with additional features or alterations needed for more specific circumstances.
A prominent bunion or hammertoes, for example, may require additional toe box room, while feet that swell may need additional room overall.
A highly active lifestyle might call for shoes that have additional flexibility or motion control elements to them. And yes, diabetic athletic shoes are very much a thing—from walking to running and many other sports! Physical activity is great for the circulation and diabetic foot care in general, so we will do all we can to help you keep moving and playing the sports you love safely.
As for everyday use, diabetic shoes should be used just as you would use standard shoes! Wear them out and care for them well.
It is best to have more than one pair of diabetic shoes, just as it is best to have more than one pair of standard shoes. This way, you can switch between them on a daily basis, providing time for a pair you’ve worn all day to air out and keep from harboring problematic bacteria and fungus.
(This is a great idea for everyone, not just people living with diabetes.)
In some cases, we may recommend that you wear diabetic shoes indoors as well. This would be the case if your feet are in a particularly vulnerable state that should be protected, or if you need the added stability to help prevent falls and other accidents.
Whatever our recommendations, we will fully discuss them with you. This is by no means a one-way conversation, either! We want to know as much as possible about the needs you have for footwear and how you will use them. By learning about and addressing all the questions and concerns you may have, we can develop a plan that keeps both your quality of life and diabetic foot care in high standing.