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Extremities far from the heart are first to be affected by poor circulation. When it comes to diabetes, that can mean trouble for the feet.
According to podiatrist Dr. Mike Rushton, co-founder and medical director of Forward Motion Orthotics in St. George, Utah, there are two primary ways that diabetes affects feet. One is neuropathy, in which people experience anything from “odd sensations in the feet, all the way to no sensation in the feet.” Burning, stinging, or even cold sensations can occur with neuropathy as well.
The second biggest issue is “losing protective threshold,” Rushton says. Someone with reduced circulation and sensation could step on an object, causing injury, and not feel a thing. “You won’t start to notice it until you’ve already started to have issues,” he explains. What would be a small annoyance — say a rock in a shoe — left for a long amount of time can lead to severe injury.
Rushton has seen this occur with items as minor as a feather or apple seed stuck in a shoe, or objects as severe as a nail that a patient didn’t feel. “You have to watch feet carefully,” Rushton says of diabetics. “Wounds are harder to heal,” he adds, especially as many diabetics suffer from vascular disease or abnormal condition of the blood vessels in the feet. In worst case scenarios, injuries could lead to amputation.
What’s important for diabetics to look for in their footwear is a roomy fit. Wide-fitting shoes with “plenty of depth,” Rushton says, are key to avoiding rubbing and chafing that can lead to greater sores and injuries. So are wide toe boxes and soft shoe interiors and linings. “There are diabetic shoes on the market that boast all these qualities, as well as special insoles that decrease friction on feet,” explains Rushton.
From walking to running and lounge-worthy styles, find the 10 best shoes for diabetics, below.
New Balance Made in USA 990v5
Best Shoes for Diabetics with Neuropathy
According to Dr. Rushton, diabetics with neuropathy are especially susceptible to numbness in the feet. For that reason, it’s especially important they have shoes with a roomy fit that won’t cause harmful rubbing and chafing — which they may not notice. “New Balance makes a fabulous diabetic shoe, and it’s covered by Medicare,” he says. The New Balance Made in USA 990v5 has an Ortholite insert and firm-yet-supportive midsole. The toe box is very wide, ideal for neuropathic diabetics.
Skechers Women’s Go Walk Joy Walking Shoe
Best Diabetic Shoes for Standing All Day
These Skechers walking shoes for women have super-responsive cushioning with a high-rebound insole. Reviewers call them some of the best shoes for standing all day thanks to their lightweight and flexible fit. The breathable mesh upper allows air to circulate, while the soft fabric lining ensures comfort at every angle. Plus, the outsole has lots of traction, making these a great everyday slip-on. Choose between a wide and regular fit.
Adidas Women’s Cloudfoam Qt Racer
Adidas’ Cloudfoam Qt Racer is all about softness. It has a breathable, lightweight knit upper and cloud-like cushioning in the outsole. With nearly 8,000 reviews and an average 4.5-star rating on Amazon, these sneakers won’t lead you wrong for running, walking or grabbing brunch.
Nike Zoom Winflo 6 Running
Reviews say these Nike sneakers have “excellent arch support” and are “light as a feather.” They also boast a soft lining, responsive, low-profile cushioning and a knit upper that conforms to the shape your foot for ultimate comfort.
Brooks Catamount Sneaker
Best Running Shoes for Diabetics
Podiatrists concur that the Brooks Catamount sneaker is a top orthopedic shoe for women and a great option for men. The padded tongue and collar makes for easy access and comfort once you’re laced in, so diabetics can avoid unnecessary rubbing and blisters. The soft mesh lining is designed for breathability, while the insole offers ample cushioning and responsiveness.
Altra Footwear Escalante 2.5
Dr. Rushton recommends Altra shoes for diabetics since they tend to have “really wide toe boxes to prevent rubbing and nice thick soles.” The Escalante 2.5 is top-rated, boasting neutral support that makes it great for physical exercise and everyday activities alike.
New Balance Men’s 577 V1 Walking Shoe
Best Walking Shoes for Diabetics
With its top Amazon ratings, New Balance’s 577 V1 walking shoe is one of the best walking shoes for men. (To note, the brand makes some of the best walking shoes for women, too.) There’s extra cushioning in the heel for shock absorption and a polyurethane midsole for stability. The hook and loop closure allows the wearer to adjust the fit so it’s not too tight or too loose, encouraging proper circulation. And, the shoe comes in multiple widths.
Hoka One One Sky Kaha Hiking Boot
Best Hiking Shoes for Diabetics
Rated some of the best hiking shoes on the market, Hoka’s Sky Kaha hiking boot is excellent for diabetics. Its super-soft lining protects feet from chafing and blisters. What’s more, the shoe is durable, ultra-grippy and lightweight for easy movement in tough terrain.
Vionic Relax Slippers
Best House Shoes for Diabetics
Vionic Relax slippers are some of the best women’s slippers thanks to their supportive, ergonomic footbed. Also featuring plush terry cloth fabric, a flexible midsole and hook and loop closure for a customized fit, they’ve even made fans out of celebs like Oprah Winfrey. Sadly, this specific model isn’t available for guys, but while you’re here, be sure to check out the best slippers for men, too.
Yibobay Diabetic Shoes
Best Velcro Diabetic Shoes
Yibobay’s diabetic shoes are extra-wide, providing lots of space for diabetic feet, and particularly well-reviewed by elderly customers. They offer a soft, padded tongue and collar, velcro strap to help you get the right fit and memory foam insoles for even weight distribution with every step.