The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Living with Diabetes: Choosing the Right Shoes

Posted by on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012


Feet–you wear them every day. That’s why it’s so distressing when something goes wrong with our feet and why it’s so important to take good care of them.

While all of us need to make sure our feet are healthy, it’s especially important for people with diabetes to keep an eye on their feet. Diabetes affects your circulation, which means that any kind of wound or injury to your feet will have a hard time healing and is at risk for infection.

If you have diabetes, shoes can be one of your best defenses for protecting your feet. Here are some tips for choosing shoes when you have diabetes:

  • Wear shoes Yes, that’s the most obvious one–you need to actually wear shoes in order for them to protect your feet. Going barefoot leaves your feet vulnerable to the kind of scratches, scrapes, and bumps that are no big deal for most people, but can be dangerous for diabetics. Wear shoes as often as you can–try keeping a pair right next to your bed so you will have them right there for you when you get up in the morning.
  • Keep them closed While sandals and flip flops are cute, they don’t offer any kind of protection for your feet. They’re out, unless you wear socks with them. Hey, I know you may think that looks really dorky, but it looks a lot better than having an amputated foot. If you want shoes to wear in hot weather that will keep your feet cool, look for shoes that offer coverage but are made of materials that give some ventilation.
  • Keep them dry Damp feet inside shoes and socks offer a perfect breeding ground for fungi to grow and infect your feet. Choose shoes that are made of breathable materials and wear moisture wicking socks to help keep dampness away from your feet. For extra protection, sprinkle some powder in your socks before you put them on, and bring an extra pair of socks if you know your feet sweat a lot.
  • Make sure they fit Your feet will change size over time, so it’s important to make sure that each shoe you choose is the right size, not the size you think you wore the last time you bought shoes. Always try on each pair of shoes you plan to buy. Make sure you do it later in the day, when your feet are swollen and at their largest size after the activities of the day. Try on shoes with the type of socks you plan to wear with them. If you’re having trouble finding shoes that fit comfortably, look for a pedorthist, or talk to a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) to find out more about choosing the right size shoe for your feet and their particular issues.
  • Get support Shoes that offer support and stability for your feet are a better choice for diabetics; lace ups or buckle straps are much better than slip on styles. You may also need additional support in the form of orthotics. You can buy orthotic insoles at a drugstore, but custom fit ones from your podiatrist will last longer and fit better.
  • Stay flat and free Avoid shoes that are made in a style that cramps your feet or does not allow your toes to rest in a natural flat, position. This means that those oh so common stilettos with pointy toes are a huge no-no. Don’t be discouraged–there are plenty of cute shoes with round or square toes. Just look around and see what you find. Be a fashion trend-setter, not a fashion follower!

Living with diabetes takes a lot of work, from managing your blood sugar to eating the right foods. Nothing can make diabetes easy, but choosing the right kind of shoe can keep your feet from becoming a problem. If you have any questions or problems with shoes and your feet, talk to your podiatrist!


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.