The Best Shoes for People with Diabetes


Cindy Kuzma

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Male Walking in Sneakers

Cowboy boots, pumps, wingtips, or sneakers? If you have diabetes, choosing shoes is far more than a matter of looks—it’s a vital part of your treatment plan. Finish off an outfit with well-fitting, comfortable shoes or boots and you can prevent sores, nerve damage, and even amputation.

It may take some time and patience, and perhaps the advice of your podiatrist or an experienced footwear professional, but you can find footwear that’s both flattering and healthy for your feet. Look for shoes that:

  • Breathe. Air circulation can keep your feet safe from fungus or bacteria. Choose shoes made of porous materials, such as leather or fabric. Skip those made with stifling plastic. However, don’t aim for too much of a good thing. Sandals and flip-flops may give your feet more oxygen, but they also increase your risk of injury. Avoid them.

  • Absorb shock. Special shock-absorbing soles, often found in athletic shoes, can reduce the impact your feet take with each step. If your shoes don’t come with this feature, you may be able to purchase special insoles that serve the same purpose.

  • Don’t pinch or crowd. High heels and pointed toes may be in vogue, but they’re likely to cause long-term damage. Search for low-heeled styles that don’t rub or pinch your feet or cause calluses or blisters. Carefully inspect the inner surface for jagged edges or shoddy workmanship. Over time, these seemingly minor annoyances can turn into big problems, including ulcers and infections.

  • Fit well. Shoes that are too big may cause your foot to shift inside without you noticing, squashing your toes, or increasing the pressure on them. But don’t be tempted to buy shoes that are too small, which can hinder your circulation.

After receiving a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, it may be hard to motivate yourself to make the necessary life changes. But the side effects of ignoring diabetes, like blindness, nerve damage, and stroke, can be a wake-up call.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Aug 13, 2015