What to Look for When Buying Diabetic Shoes and Socks

Oct 29, 2021

If you have diabetes – no matter whether you have just been diagnosed or have lived with the condition for years – a proactive approach to care is always best when it comes to the long-term health, comfort, and preservation of your feet. Shoes that accommodate diabetic needs are an essential element of this approach.

Diabetic shoes and socks are specially designed to reduce dangerous risk factors, providing a patient with diabetes greater comfort, mobility, and peace of mind in the process.

For many patients, diabetic footwear comes with a very strong recommendation. When constricted circulation and nerve damage are significant factors in a case, you want to leave no stone unturned when it comes to anything that can provide additional protection and support against complications.

Some patients who manage their blood sugar well, have healthy feet, and have much lower risk factors at the current time can often do without specialized diabetic shoes if they choose. That said, there are still multiple elements that are well worth looking for even when shopping for “conventional” footwear.

Whether you need diabetic shoes or are looking for better conventional options, Associates in Podiatry will always be happy to provide or help you find the options that best meet your situation. Let’s discuss some of the more generalized features that are often best to consider. 

Flexible Material

A good diabetic shoe should be able to accommodate the size of a person’s feet during the day. 

You might be surprised at how much feet naturally swell between morning and night, depending on how much time we spend on them. Add in the potential of edema in diabetic patients, and that swelling can be even more significant.

Mesh and soft leather are both excellent materials that can stretch to meet the changing sizes of feet. If a material is too rigid, feet and toes can become compressed, rubbing against each other and the inside of the footwear more. Such friction can lead to calluses, blisters, and sores – all of which can easily become much more troubling in many diabetic patients.

Flexible footwear is also often a must when there are certain conditions or deformities, such as bunions or hammertoes, in the picture as well.

Keeping it Seamless

Speaking of friction-based troubles, the stitching in seams can sometimes be a bother for sensitive and higher-risk feet. 

Many shoes nowadays come with full linings or very low-profile stitching, but even a small amount can irritate if it’s constantly rubbing against the foot. 

Almost all diabetic shoes and socks are seamless by design. If you are looking at other footwear, it is well worth looking and feeling around inside to see where seams are and whether they may rub your feet the wrong way.

A Rocker Bottom

“Rocker bottom” shoes (also known as “rocker platform” shoes), have thick soles that curve upward from the heel to the toes. They can have excellent supportive benefits, helping to reduce excessive motion, redistribute forces more evenly against the feet, and aid in the natural rocking movement of the feet while walking.

While rocker bottom shoes can have many benefits for a diabetic foot, they can also come with some drawbacks or risks in certain cases. Patients with peripheral neuropathy may find greater problems with balance using these types of shoes, so this style might not be recommended to them.

We highly recommend consulting with us as to whether a rocker bottom shoe would be a good match for your needs – and if so, what specific types would be best.

Room in the Toes

We know some love the style of shoes that have narrow or pointed toe boxes, but they simply aren’t good for diabetic feet (we’d go so far as to say they aren’t good for anyone’s feet). They further constrict circulation that can already be struggling, as well as increase the risk of blisters, corns, and calluses. 

Your toes should never be rubbing against the edges of the shoe, and they should have enough room to wiggle freely without getting cramped against each other.

Toes impacting against the front of a shoe is also a concern worth paying attention to, as this can also cause blisters and damage to the nails. Ideally, there should be at least a thumb’s width of space between the end of your longest toe and the front of a shoe. Also, make sure your foot does not slide too much within the shoe, or that extra space might not mean a whole lot.

Focus on Function (But You Don’t Always Have to Sacrifice Form)

The general factors we have listed above certainly aren’t an exhaustive list. Some patients may have additional needs to consider, such as flat feet or wanting to uphold a certain athletic level. Different needs or situations might require different styles or forms of diabetic footwear or additions like custom orthotics to address structural abnormalities more specifically.

Your choices of footwear can not only affect your comfort, mobility, and risks of complications now but can also help determine the shape of your feet into the future. The effects of diabetes on the feet are never something to wait for and have happened when you can take steps now to reduce the chances of them developing in the first place.

We can not only help you find the perfect footwear for your needs but provide a wealth of other advice and preventative care to keep your feet at their best. Schedule an appointment with Associates in Podiatry by giving us a call or by filling out our online contact form

Princeton Office