When you go shopping for shoes these tips may help:
Always try your shoes on before you buy them. The best time of day to buy is in the afternoon because your feet will have swollen a little and will be at their largest. Try not to buy shoes that you think need ‘breaking in.’ When you buy shoes they should fit properly and shouldn’t need to be stretched to fit or broken in.
If at all possible have your feet measured for length and width every time you buy shoes. Your feet can change shape with diabetes so it’s important to make sure you’re always buying the right size shoe for you at the time. There should be 1cm of room between the end of your longest toe (which may not be your big toe) and the end of your shoe. This gap stops you putting pressure on your toes and nails. Shoes should be at least as wide as your foot.
Choose shoes that are wide fitting and which have a deep and rounded toe area. Narrow shoes can squash your feet and cause your shoes to rub on your skin, or your toes to rub against each other, causing blisters and hard skin to form. Choose shoes that have a covered toe area, rather than open toed sandals or shoes, as a closed toe will help protect your feet from injury.
Choose shoes with a suitable heel height. When women wear high heeled shoes they put a lot of pressure on the balls of their feet. High heeled shoes are often narrow too, which can squash your toes and put pressure on the sides and top of your feet. Choose shoes for everyday wear which have low heels no more than 2cm high. Check too that the heel is firm enough to support your weight. Hold the heel between your thumb and forefinger – if you can squeeze it and it ‘gives’ then it’s too soft. If you can, choose a shoe with a closed in heel.
Choose shoes that have laces, buckles or elastic to hold them firmly on. If there is no restraint for your foot you may curl your toes up to stop your foot from sliding – the top of your toes can then rub on your shoes.
Choose shoes with the upper part made from a breathable material, such as leather or specially made breathable fabrics, so that air can get in and out. Without breathable material your feet will get hot and moist because the air can’t circulate and this increases your chances of developing a fungal infection like athlete’s foot.
Choose shoes that will cushion and protect your feet. Cushioned insoles for your shoes can help to protect your feet from pressure, which can help to prevent damage to your skin and the build up of hard skin. Check that the sole of the shoes is sturdy and made of a stiff material.
Consider wearing trainers. Trainers are good shoes to choose if you have diabetes. They usually fit well and have thick flexible soles and they’re a great choice for walking or exercising. Choose trainers made out of natural fabrics like leather or breathable man-made materials. Buy your trainers from a shop that will measure your feet properly to make sure you get the best fit.
When you’re at home wear shoes rather than slippers as much as you can, as shoes offer your feet the best protection. However, if you do wear slippers choose a pair that covers the whole of your foot and which give your feet as much support and protection as possible.
If your feet have changed shape, or if you think parts of your feet are more exposed to pressure, for example if you have a bunion, then your best option is to have some shoes custom made just for you. If you need custom made shoes then choose a style that you can wear everyday and do wear them – they’re no good to you sitting in the hall or in a cupboard! If you do need to get shoes specially made then your doctor, nurse or podiatrist will tell you. He or she should also be able to tell you where you can buy specialist shoes.
It’s important to always wear socks, tights (or stockings) whenever you wear your shoes or slippers. Socks and tights will give you some protection from the inside of your shoes and reduce the chances of damage to your skin. Try not to go barefoot inside your shoes or slippers.
Socks or stockings with elastic tops can affect the blood supply to your feet if they are too tight so instead choose socks with soft flexible tops that won’t dig in. If you wear stockings choose ones with a silicone top that won’t dig in or wear them with a suspender belt.
Choose socks and tights with either very thin seams or no seams at all in them. These kinds of socks and tights are quite widely available. Ask your health professional or pharmacist for more information.
Everyone, whether they have diabetes or not, needs to wear the right shoes to play sport or take part in activities like walking or jogging. Just as with the shoes you wear everyday it’s important to have sport shoes or trainers that fit well and which protect your feet from injury or skin damage.
If you can, go to a specialist sports or running shop to buy your shoes. There you can be measured properly and can make sure that you get the right shoes for the activity you want to do. Different activities need different shoes depending on the kind of surface you are running or playing on and the movements you will be making. For example, running shoes are very flexible and designed to let your feet bend and flex with each step but they aren’t the best shoes for playing tennis or doing aerobics. This is because when you play a game like tennis you need to step sideways as well as forwards. So in this case, cross trainer shoes or sports shoes would be better for these kinds of sports.
As with your everyday shoes, make sure that the shoes you use for sport are the right size – choose shoes which are wide fitting, have a deep and rounded toe area and which have 1cm between the end of your longest toe and the end of your shoe.
Choose shoes that are made out of natural fabrics like leather or breathable man-made materials and have laces or straps to keep your feet in place and to stop them sliding around.
Cushioned insoles will protect your skin from pressure and prevent damage.