Diabetic footwear – A comprehensive guide

14
minute read
A pair of diabetic footwear.
Photo credit - Matias Ilizarbe.

Effectively managing your diabetes is crucial for a better quality of life. However, one thing people often overlook when planning their diabetes management is their foot health and choice of footwear. Choosing the right footwear isn’t just a matter of style. It’s a critical component of your diabetes management – The shoes you wear can significantly impact your foot health, and diabetic footwear is specially designed to address the unique needs of diabetics.

So let’s explore diabetic footwear and identify the benefits of choosing the right shoes, the features to look for, and how to choose your perfect pair. We’ll also look at some of the popular brands and models available in India and provide valuable tips on caring for your diabetic-friendly shoes. Because when you make informed decisions about your footwear, you reduce the risk of foot complications and enhance your quality of life.

Here’s everything you’ll need to know:

  • Understanding the connection between diabetes and foot health
  • The benefits of diabetic footwear
  • Features to look for in diabetic footwear
  • How to choose the right diabetic footwear
  • Popular brands and models of diabetic footwear in India
  • Caring for your diabetic footwear
  • Foot care tips for diabetics
  • Conclusion: Diabetic footwear – A valuable tool in supporting good foot health

Understanding the connection between diabetes and foot health

To understand why diabetic footwear is worth your time and investment, you first have to understand the connection between diabetes and foot health.

One of the common complications of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage). This happens because your body has trouble managing sugar (a.k.a. glucose) and high sugar levels can damage the tiny nerves in your feet. When they’re healthy, these nerves help you sense things like heat, cold and pain. But when they’re damaged, you may not notice if you step on something sharp or if your shoes are too tight.

Diabetes can also affect the blood vessels that carry blood to your feet. Good blood flow is vital for healing if you get a cut or sore on your foot. But when blood can’t flow properly, wounds can take longer to heal and you may be at risk of infections.

Here are some of the specific foot problems diabetics can face:

  • Ulcers – Ulcers are open sores or wounds that typically form on the bottom of the feet or around the toes. They can be painful, often take a long time to heal and increase the risk of infection.
  • Infections – With poor blood flow and reduced sensation infections can happen more easily. And if it gets infected, even a small cut or blister can become a big problem.
  • Charcot foot – Charcot foot is a severe condition where the bones in the foot weaken and fracture without you realising. If not treated quickly, it can lead to deformities.
  • Gangrene – If an infection isn’t treated, in extreme cases it can lead to gangrene, which is tissue death. This can be very serious and may require amputation.

Knowing the possible complications of diabetes to foot health makes it clear why proper foot care and footwear are essential as part of a strong diabetes management plan.

The benefits of diabetic footwear

Diabetic shoes aren't just ordinary shoes – They’re shoes specially designed to provide comfort and protection for your feet.

Here are some of the key benefits of specialised footwear for diabetics:

  • Pressure redistribution – Diabetic shoes are designed to distribute pressure evenly across your feet as you walk. This is important because uneven pressure can lead to the formation of ulcers or calluses, which can be painful and hard to treat.
  • Reduced risk of ulcers and infections – By evenly distributing pressure across your feet you not only reduce your risk of ulcers, you reduce your risk of subsequent infections too. Not only that, diabetic footwear is often made from materials that are breathable and moisture-wicking (the material is non-absorbent, and moisture will move to the fabric’s outer layer). This also helps keep your feet dry and less susceptible to infections.
  • Enhanced comfort and support – Diabetic shoes are all about comfort. They have extra padding and cushioning to reduce friction and pressure on your feet. This means less discomfort and less chance of blisters or sores.
  • Improved circulation – Some diabetic shoes have features like extra depth and width that allow better blood circulation in your feet. Good circulation is important for healing and maintaining foot health.

With their benefits, diabetic footwear is another tool to help strengthen your diabetes management. And by investing in the right pair of shoes, you’re taking proactive steps to keep your feet healthy and reduce your risk of complications.

Features to look for in diabetic footwear

Now that you know some of the benefits that diabetic footwear can provide, let’s explore the specific features you should look for when choosing the right pair of shoes.

  • Diabetic-friendly materials – The first thing to consider is the material. Look for diabetic footwear made from soft, breathable materials (this reduces the risk of moisture buildup and infections). Leather and canvas are excellent choices because they allow air to circulate around your feet. Avoid shoes made from stiff or non-breathable materials.
  • Extra depth and width – Diabetic shoes often have extra depth and width. This extra room allows your feet to move comfortably without rubbing against the sides of the shoes. It also allows you to add orthotic insoles if your doctor recommends them. By getting the right size, you can make sure your shoes fit comfortably and don’t squeeze your toes.
  • Seamless interiors – Seams and stitching inside a shoe can create pressure points and friction against your feet, which may lead to blisters or sores. Diabetic footwear typically has seamless interiors to reduce the risk of these complications. A smooth interior lining reduces the chances of irritation and discomfort.
  • Cushioning and arch Support – Comfort is a top priority with diabetic footwear. Look for shoes with arch support and ample cushioning in the insole. Arch support helps distribute your weight evenly and reduces pressure on specific areas of your feet. Cushioning helps absorb shock and provides a soft, supportive base.
  • Adjustable closures – Diabetic shoes often have laces or Velcro straps. This allows you to adjust how the shoes close and customise the fit. It also means you can loosen or tighten as you need, which can be helpful if your feet tend to swell during the day.

When you're shopping for diabetic-friendly shoes, keep these features in mind – They’ll help you choose a pair that’s right for you.

How to choose the right diabetic footwear

Now that you know the features to look for in diabetic-friendly shoes, it’s time to learn how to find the perfect pair. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Consider your individual needs – The first step to finding the right diabetic footwear is to consider your personal requirements. Think about any foot problems or conditions you have (such as neuropathy or foot deformities). Talk to your doctor and see if they have any recommendations regarding your footwear needs.
  2. Get a professional fitting – Don't guess your shoe size or rely on what you've worn in the past. Instead, get a professional fitting, preferably at a store that specialises in diabetic footwear. They’ll accurately measure your feet and recommend styles that provide the right fit and support.
  3. Visit speciality stores – Stores that specialise in diabetic footwear or orthopaedic shoes are more likely to have shoes that meet your needs. Their range of suitable shoes will also likely be greater.
  4. Try different styles – Don't limit yourself to just one style. Try different styles to see which shoes offer the best comfort and support.
  5. Consider inserts or orthotics – If your doctor has recommended orthotic inserts, take them with you when you go shoe shopping. Make sure the shoes you’re interested in can accommodate them comfortably.
  6. Walk around – Don't just stand in the shoes. Walk around the store to check they’re comfortable and supportive while you walk.
  7. Ask questions – Don't be afraid to ask sales staff about the shoes. They can provide valuable information about the features and benefits of the different styles.

By following these steps and tips, you can make an informed choice when picking diabetic-friendly shoes. And this will support your foot health and diabetes management.

Online vs. in-store shopping

Online shopping is convenient, but when you’re looking to buy diabetic footwear, it’s generally better to go to a physical store – Especially if you’re buying your first pair.

In-store staff can provide personalised guidance and help make sure you get the right fit. You can also try the shoes on and make sure they’re comfortable.

If you’ve already bought diabetic footwear before though, and you know the style and size that works for you, online shopping is a valid option. Just remember, your feet can change over time – It’s a good idea to periodically check your size and fit to make sure you have the right shoes for you.

Popular brands and models of diabetic footwear in India

There are several brands of shoes available in India that are diabetic-friendly. These are brands known for their comfort and quality, making them an excellent option for diabetics.

Dr. Scholl's

  • Dr. Scholl's is a well-known brand that offers diabetic-friendly footwear. Their shoes focus on comfort and support and are widely available in India.
  • Dr. Scholl's offers a wide range of casual and athletic diabetic shoe options.

Orthofeet

  • Orthofeet specialises in orthopaedic and diabetic footwear. Their shoes combine style and function, offering comfort and protection for diabetic feet.
  • Popular models include Asheville and Ventura, both of which are well-regarded options from their diabetic shoe collection.

Dr. Comfort

  • Another top choice for many diabetics, Dr. Comfort offers a wide range of diabetic footwear. These are shoes designed specifically for diabetics, known for their superior comfort and support.
  • Popular models include William, Annie, and Marla.

New Balance

  • New Balance is known for its athletic shoes but also has diabetic-friendly options. These shoes provide excellent support and cushioning for those with active lifestyles.
  • New Balance has a range of athletic and walking shoes suitable for diabetics.

P.W. Minor

  • P.W. Minor has a history of producing quality footwear, including across their range of diabetic shoes. Their commitment to craftsmanship means their shoes are both stylish and functional.
  • Popular models include Leisure and Performance Walker.

Price ranges

The price of diabetic shoes can vary. While some high-end brands offer premium options, there are also more affordable options available in India – Check out the different brands and models to find one that meets your needs and suits your budget.

And remember, the right pair of diabetic shoes can make a big difference in your daily comfort and foot health. When you’re ready to buy a pair, visit a store and make sure you get the right fit and style for your feet.

By prioritising and investing in your foot health and diabetic footwear, you can improve your overall health and well-being.

Caring for your diabetic footwear

Once you've bought a pair of diabetic shoes, you need to care for them properly – This allows them to provide comfort and protection for your feet for as long as possible.

Proper maintenance can extend the life of your shoes and keep your feet healthy.

Cleaning and maintaining diabetic shoes

Like any other footwear, diabetic shoes require regular cleaning, maintenance and preventative care:

  1. Clean them regularly – Wipe your shoes with a damp cloth to remove dirt and dust. Don’t soak them in water or use harsh chemicals, as this can damage the materials.
  2. Allow them to dry – After wearing your shoes, let them air out and dry naturally. Extreme heat can cause materials to crack, so don't expose them to direct heat from radiators or sunlight.
  3. Care for insoles and inserts – If your shoes have removable insoles or orthotic inserts, take them out regularly to air and clean them.
  4. Rotate your shoes – If you have more than one pair of diabetic shoes, rotate them regularly. This will allow each to air out fully, helping prevent moisture buildup and odour.
  5. Use shoe trees – When you’re not wearing them, use a shoe tree for your shoes. Shoe trees help your shoes maintain their shape.
  6. Store them properly – When storing your shoes, make sure they’re in a cool, dry place away from damp and direct sunlight. Again, to avoid cracking, you should avoid anywhere that would expose them to extreme heat.
  7. Follow care instructions – Shoes typically come with care instructions provided by the manufacturer. Follow these, and make sure you’re treating your shoes correctly.

When to replace your diabetic footwear

Even with proper care, diabetic shoes will eventually wear out. To maintain your foot health, it’s important to recognise when to replace them:

  1. Signs of wear – Check your shoes regularly for signs of wear and tear. Look for worn-out soles, frayed seams, or flattened cushioning.
  2. Loss of support – If your shoes aren’t providing the support and cushioning they once did, it's time to get a replacement.
  3. Change in fit – Both your feet and shoes can change over time. If your shoes become too tight, loose, or uncomfortable it could be time for a new pair.
  4. Foot problems – If you develop foot problems or complications talk to your doctor. You may need new shoes to meet your new needs.

By taking good care of your diabetic footwear and knowing when it’s time to replace them, you can get the most benefit from your diabetic-friendly shoes and support for your foot health.

And remember, investing time and effort in a good pair of diabetic-friendly shoes is an investment in your health, well-being and comfort.

Foot care tips for diabetics

Wearing diabetes-friendly shoes can help support your foot health, but for the best result, you also need to practise proper foot care. These essential foot care tips can help you keep your feet healthy and reduce the risk of complications.

  1. Daily foot checks – Inspect your feet every day. Look for cuts, sores, blisters or redness. Use a mirror if you have trouble seeing the bottom of your feet.
  2. Keep your feet clean – Gently wash your feet every day with lukewarm water and mild soap. Avoid hot water as it can damage your skin. Pat your feet dry with a soft towel, and pay extra attention to the spaces between your toes.
  3. Moisturise, but not between your toes – Use a moisturising cream or lotion to keep your skin soft and prevent dryness. Don’t apply moisturiser between your toes though, as excessive moisture in this area can cause fungal infections.
  4. Trim toenails carefully – Trim your toenails straight across and file the edges to prevent sharp corners. Don’t cut them too short, as this can cause ingrown toenails.
  5. Wear clean, dry socks – Wear moisture-wicking socks that keep your feet dry. Change your socks every day and don’t wear socks that are dirty or damp.
  6. Protect your feet – When walking both indoors and outdoors, wear shoes to protect your feet from possible injuries. Avoid going barefoot, even at home.
  7. Don't self-treat corns or calluses – If you notice corns or calluses on your feet, don’t try to remove them yourself. Instead, get professional care from a podiatrist. They can safely address these issues.
  8. Be aware of foot temperature – Pay attention to the temperature of your feet. If they often feel unusually warm or cold, it could be a sign you have problems with blood circulation and should talk to your doctor.
  9. Maintain good blood sugar control – One of the best ways to prevent diabetes-related foot complications is to maintain good blood sugar control. To do this, take your medications regularly and follow recommended diet and exercise plans.
  10. Get regular checkups – Schedule regular foot checkups with your doctor or podiatrist. They can help monitor your foot health, address any concerns you may have, and provide guidance and recommendations on how to best care for your feet.

By including these foot care tips in your daily routine, you can protect your feet, reduce your risk of diabetes-related foot complications, and enjoy a better quality of life.

Conclusion: Diabetic footwear – A valuable tool in supporting good foot health

Living with diabetes is challenging. But there are tools available to give you more power and control over your health.

Investing in diabetic footwear can make a big difference in your foot health. They act as a protective barrier, reducing the risk of injury, ulcers, infections and complications. They also help distribute pressure evenly and provide added comfort and support.

By prioritising proper foot care and investing in diabetic footwear, you’re taking proactive steps to improve your foot health. Combining this with regular foot checks, good foot care, and effective blood sugar control you can improve your foot health and diabetes management.

And remember, talk to your doctor or podiatrist. They can give you personalised advice and guidance, helping you avoid diabetes-related foot complications and make informed choices about your foot health.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have questions about your medical condition you should always consult your doctor or qualified healthcare provider.

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