The goal for buying shoes when you have diabetes is simple: Buy shoes that don’t harm your feet. That means a pair of shoes that rub, slide, pinch, squish or cramp your feet. These tips can help point you in the right direction.
Shoe Shopping Checklist
✓ Buy the right size. This means measure your feet—both of them. Your shoe size can change as you get older. Make sure you are wearing the right shoe size.
If you’ve lost sensitivity in your feet from peripheral neuropathy, also known as diabetic neuropathy, your tendency will be to buy shoes that are too tight because they will “feel right.”
✓ Use the shape of your foot as a guide. The right shoe will mimic the shape of your foot—wider across the toes, tapered at the heel, with a middle that matches your instep. Your toes aren’t pointed, right? Pass by pointed-toe shoes for square-toed or rounded ones.
✓ Give toes wiggle room. The right fit is about 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch from the tip of your great toe to the end of the shoe. Stand up and have someone else measure your feet if you can. If you bend over to do it, your foot can shift and mislead you.
✓ Pick pairs you can adjust. Podiatrists often recommend lace-up shoes because they provide stability and can be loosened or tightened as needed.
Shoes with hook-and-loop closures or buckles also offer adjustability. The more places you can adjust the fit to suit your feet, the better.
Leather, suede and stretch uppers offer extra give, too.
✓ Select covered heels and covered toes. Picture your toes if you stub them with shoes on and then picture them without your shoes on. It’s clear to see which one increases your risk for injury.
Any place your shoes are open gives pebbles, slivers of glass, thorns, and all kinds of potentially harmful debris a way to get under your foot.
✓ Look for the American Podiatric Seal of Acceptance/Approval. You can look for the label on shoes you’re considering.
Ready to Shop?
American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society: “Shoes and Orthotics for Diabetics.”
Joslin Diabetes Center: “The Best Shoes for People With Diabetes.”
Joslin Diabetes Center: “The Right Fit”
American Podiatric Medical Association: “Diabetes and Your Feet FAQS”
American Podiatric Medical Association: “Seal of Acceptance/Approval Program, Products by Category.”