People living with diabetes know that poorly managed blood glucose levels can lead to a variety of health complications, many of which involve problems in the feet. In severe cases, diabetes can lead to loss of feeling in the feet from a diminished blood supply, which can result in severe infections that ultimately require amputation.
With that said, staying on top of your diabetes treatment plan can help lower your risk for these kinds of issues—and wearing the right shoes is a great place to start.
Diabetic shoes come in all shapes and sizes. While some medical professionals suggest getting fitted for specialty orthotics, others believe you can buy a perfectly good, well-fitting pair of shoes on your own. So, to help you shop smarter, we rounded up a few diabetic shoe options that are worth checking out.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall for Women: Propet Women’s Tour Walker Strap Sneaker
Propet is one of the most popular diabetic shoe brands, and this particular sneaker checks all the boxes: it’s well cushioned, roomy, and protective. The midsole of the shoe is made with EVA foam, offering the perfect balance of support and softness. The 100% leather exterior is soft and forgiving along the top of the foot while also protecting it from exposure to debris.
Because the shoe comes in such a range of widths, you can guarantee that you will find one with enough depth for your feet. Its Velcro strap closures make them even easier to put on and take off.
What’s more, many shoes from Propet (including this model) are covered by Medicare, so if you’re concerned about the financial investment that high-quality diabetic shoes can require, this pair might be covered, partially or fully, by your insurance. How Diabetes Affects Your Skin
Best Overall for Men: Dr. Comfort William X Men’s Double Depth Casual Shoe
This all-occasion footwear from Dr. Comfort gives the foot everything it needs. The extra quarter-inch of room provided by the double depth design accommodates feet experiencing severe swelling and people wearing internal brace and ankle-foot orthosis products. It also comes in three different widths to provide even more room.
The protective toe box utilizes additional padding to prevent trauma caused by toe stubbing. And its use of high-quality leather for the uppers helps regulate foot temperature, keeping them both cool and dry.
Meanwhile, the shoe has a firm heel counter that helps provide both medial and lateral stability as you move through your day, and the contact closure ensures a great fit without fumbling over any laces. All Dr. Comfort shoes come equipped with shock-absorbing gel insoles as well.
Best for Neuropathy: OrthoFeet Chattanooga Shoe
Peripheral neuropathy, the type of neuropathy commonly caused by diabetes, results from damage to nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord, like in the hands and feet. Symptoms of neuropathy in the feet can include pain, a pins-and-needles sensation, numbness, and weakness.
Luckily, some diabetic shoes are particularly good at alleviating these symptoms, like these Mary Janes from OrthoFeet. The anatomical orthotic insoles and ergonomic soles provide excellent support and cushioning, and the round and wide toe box prevents uncomfortable pressure and leaves plenty of room for toe movement.
These casual shoes have a breathable fabric upper and soft padded interior that are kind to the skin and help prevent binding. The two-way straps also make it easy to achieve a comfortable fit, as well as slip the shoes on and off comfortably. Everything You Need to Know About Peripheral Neuropathy
Best for Swelling: MEJORMEN Diabetic Edema Shoes
When a person with diabetes experiences swelling in their feet, the last thing they want to do is to put on shoes that will restrict blood flow and create additional pressure on the skin.
For this reason, opt for a slipper-esque shoe like this one from MEJORMEN. The sturdy, non-slip rubber soles make them appropriate for both indoors and outdoors, and the soft felt material at the back of the heel is adjustable to better cater to foot swelling.
The slippers are extra wide and use velcro adjustments to make it easy to slip in and out. The uppers are made with super soft material, and the insole is lined with high-density foam for a cushioned and flexible walking experience. The toe box is also wider to accommodate swelling and prevent the squeezing of the foot.
Best for Walking: Brooks Addiction Walker 2 Walking Shoes
Walking shoes for people with diabetes need to have stability, cushioning, and breathability. This pair from Brooks gets the job done with its many diabetes-friendly features. The support system used in the heel of the shoe strategically positions arch support to help keep your body in its natural path of motion.
Meanwhile, they use Brooks proprietary cushioning that adapts to your stride, weight, and speed. The leather exterior adds additional comfort while still giving your feet the breathability and temperature control they need.
Many people with diabetes have commented that they don’t find the aesthetics of diabetic shoes particularly attractive, so these shoes are a refreshing option for someone with this chronic health condition. Practical Tips for Lifestyle Changes If You Have Type 2 Diabetes
Best for Running: New Balance Women’s 840 V4 Running Shoe
If you’re feeling ready to kick your workout intensity up a notch, it’s important to pick footwear that will properly support these efforts, especially when pounding the pavement is involved. Luckily, these shoes from New Balance really deliver on all fronts.
The wider sole gives the foot plenty of room while cupping the heel comfortably and supporting better balance. The wide toe box is also ideal for folks worried about pressure sensitivity. Users rave about the amount of cushion they provide for the top, sides, and bottom of the foot.
The shoes aren’t heavy, large, or clunky like other support shoes can be, but they still manage to provide plenty of protection.
Best Boot: SAS Gretchen Chukka Boot
For folks who spend hours upon hours working on their feet each day, a supportive and protective boot is a must-have for your wardrobe. These SAS boots have a removable, shock-absorbing insole that contours from your toe to your heel to create a custom fit. The insole is also made with antimicrobial material that helps reduce friction that can cause heat buildup and inflammation. It even provides extra support through the three main pressure points of the foot—the inside ball, outside ball, and heel—while remaining both flexible and lightweight.
While these boots do have a lace-up design, the heel tab makes it easy to slide them on and off. The leather exterior is both soft to the skin and water-resistant to the weather elements, further keeping your feet dry and safe. Finally, these boots are covered by Medicare, so you might not have to worry about the price tag as much as finding the right fit for your foot. How Type 2 Diabetes Is Diagnosed
Best Budget: Skechers Performance Go Walk 4 Pursuit Shoe
These slip-ons from Skechers come in at a fraction of the price of most other picks on this list, but they still do a great job of supporting and protecting your feet. They use highly responsive midsole cushioning and a high-rebound footbed to give your feet the extra support they need.
Lined with bamboo fabric, they keep your feet cool, dry, and safe from unwanted bacteria. The tapering midfoot design offers improved arch support over previous versions of this shoe.
The mesh fabric on the top of the shoe provides excellent breathability while still protecting your skin from debris that could lead to unwanted cuts and scrapes. The nearly seamless construction of the shoe makes it extremely comfortable, and the materials used make it surprisingly lightweight. Consider this slip-on sneaker a safe pick for working a desk job, running errands around town, and relaxing at home.
What Experts Say
“People with diabetes need to be especially careful with footwear choices. Diabetes can affect the nerves that provide sensation throughout your body. Most commonly, this affects your ability to feel sensations in your feet, making people with diabetes susceptible to developing sores, calluses, and ulcers in their feet. As a result, comfortable footwear that does not place pressure on the feet is essential. Footwear needs to be properly fitting, and should accommodate the individual’s foot shape. Proper support and appropriate cushioning are characteristics of shoes that will work well for people with diabetes.
“In addition, diabetics should avoid high-heeled shoes, shoes with a narrow toe box, and sandals or open-toed shoes. These types of footwear can cause pressure to be applied abnormally to a focal part of the foot, or can allow debris to enter around the foot. Your feet should be checked regularly for the development of any pressure areas or sores, and even subtle abnormalities should be addressed quickly before they become a more significant problem. I don’t think a specific brand is essential (at least not in my eyes). It’s more about proper fit. Working with someone who can custom fit is an excellent approach. There are specialty footwear stores that offer custom fitting, and there are all sorts of gadgets that can be used to size feet. Working with someone who is experienced in sizing footwear can be very helpful. Running stores offer these services, but many specialty footwear stores provide this type of service as well.” — Jonathan Cluett, MD
At the end of the day, the best diabetic shoe is the one that fits your foot comfortably and securely but with a little room to spare. And because diabetes can be an expensive diagnosis, opting for models like the Propet Women’s Tour Walker Strap Sneaker and the SAS Gretchen Chukka Boot that are covered by Medicare can be another important component of your decision. But as long as you wear a shoe that feels well cushioned and effectively avoids the common symptoms that people with diabetes experience in their feet, you’ve made an excellent choice.
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