The 7 Best Shoes for People With Diabetes, According to Podiatrists

Diabetes can lead to foot issues like neuropathy, pain and bruising. Here are our top shoe picks to alleviate symptoms.

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The best shoe for people with diabetes should have comfort, support and a wide toe box.
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Diabetes, the metabolic disease in which the immune system attacks cells that produce insulin, affects an estimated 37 million Americans, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It often comes with a myriad of unpleasant side effects, including extreme thirst, frequent urination, fatigue and weakness, blurry vision and foot damage.

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That last one, however, is not often discussed. Yet foot damage affects an estimated 15 to 25 percent of people with diabetes in their lifetime, per a March 2018 study in the International Journal of Endocrinology.

Excess sugar in the bloodstream can lead to diabetic neuropathy, a lack of sensory perception or feeling in the feet, according to podiatrist, owner and CEO of Northern Illinois Food & Ankle Specialists, Patrick McEneaney, DPM. "In this case, a person can develop wounds on the feet since they cannot feel rubbing or irritation," he adds.

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Low blood sugar can also prevent wounds from healing, creating a breeding ground for bacteria, Dr. McEneaney says. This can lead to infections and potential for amputation if not taken care of properly.

For these reasons and more, it is vital that a person with diabetes seeks out proper footwear that can help alleviate some of the symptoms. Here are our top picks.

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The Best Shoes for People With Diabetes

How We Chose

We reached out to five podiatrists, who offered product recommendations and broke down what to look for in shoes that can help alleviate diabetes symptoms. We selected these products based on their criteria, including:

  • Comfort
  • Depth
  • Support
  • Toe box width

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"The right shoe should have a thick, supportive sole and a wide and high toe box to provide sufficient room for your toes and prevent your feet from injury," says William Spielfogel, DPM, podiatrist and medical advisor to The Good Feet Store. "A good shoe should also be deep enough to accommodate an arch support if needed."

Why Are Certain Shoes Marketed to Men or Women?

We make deliberate choices about the language we use regarding sex and gender, but shoe manufacturers market their products to men and women. Anyone can get diabetes, but the main difference when it comes to shoes is body size.

“Feet and lower extremities are shaped differently, as well as sizes and body compositions — depending upon someone’s sex assignment at birth,” explains Jason R. Hanft, DPM, podiatrist in South Miami and CEO and founder of Defender. “Because of this, the materials used for building shoes may vary in regards to cushioning, friction reduction, and moisture-wicking abilities.

Best Overall: New Balance Made in USA 990 V5 Sneaker

These shoes are specifically designed to protect and support the ankle area, which can be problematic for people with diabetes. It features a dual-density collar foam and a midsole made from lightweight foam to deliver all-day support, no matter your level of activity.

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They also come in a variety of sizes, including wide and extra wide to accommodate those who need more room. Suzanne Levine, DPM, New York-based aesthetic podiatrist and board-certified podiatric foot surgeon, recommends them because they're secure, supportive and accommodate a variety of foot shapes while protecting the arch of the foot.

Buy it:​ ​​Amazon.com (men’s sizes 7-16 XXW); Amazon.com (women’s sizes 5-13 XW); ​​​​​Price:​​​​​ $166.18

​Best for Walking: Brooks Addiction Walker 2 Walking Shoe

When it comes to support, these walking shoes go above and beyond. Thanks to their extended Progressive Diagonal Rollbar technology, they provide support not only for your foot, but also for your entire body, making this a certified medical-grade shoe for diabetes.

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The outsole is slip resistant and the inside is lined with a soft cushioning that adapts to your weight, stride and speed, which takes pressure off of your joints. They're durable and long-lasting and come in a variety of colors.

​​​​Buy it:​ ​​Amazon.com (men’s sizes 5 W-15 XW); Amazon.com (women’s sizes 5-12 XW); ​​​​​Price:​​​​ ​From $99.99

Best for Running:​​​ Brooks Revel 4 Neutral Running Shoe

This shoe is functional, cost effective, comfortable, can work with orthotics and is a great neutral runner particularly if you have orthotics for support, according to Zahava Robinson, DPM at Bondi Podiatry in Sydney, Australia.

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"This shoe is comfortable for orthotics and I recommend it across the board, not only for my diabetes patients," she says. "It has an insert which can be removed so you have room for your orthotics for further support and stability."

It features that same Brooks cushioning that adapts to your weight, stride, and speed and comes in more than 18 colors and patterns.

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Buy it:​​ ​Amazon.com (men’s sizes 7-15); Amazon.com (women’s sizes 5-12); ​​​​​Price:​​​​ ​From $50.48

​​Best for Diabetic Neuropathy: OrthoFeet Lava Stretch Knit

These shoes feature premium (removable, if needed) orthotic insoles that provide anatomical arch support, an arch booster and a wide toe box to alleviate foot pain associated with diabetic neuropathy. The shoe's inside is soft and padded, with a stretchable knit fabric that forms to the contours of your feet. To help prevent slips and falls, the rubber outsoles have strong grip control for optimal stability.

​​​​Buy it:​ ​​OrthoFeet.com (men’s sizes 7-14); OrthoFeet.com (women's sizes 5-12); ​​​​​Price:​​​ ​​From $119.95

​​​Best Sandals:​​​ OrthoFeet Arch Support Sandals

Most sandals are not designed to accommodate foot-related issues, but these are. They feature OrthoFeet's Ortho-Cushion system that incorporates orthotic insoles with adjustable arch support and layers upon layers of pillow-like cushioning to ease pressure on the foot and ankle joints. They're lightweight and come in a wide range of widths to accommodate the perfect fit and comfort level.

​​​​Buy it:​​ ​Amazon.com (women’s sizes 5-12 XW); Amazon.com (men's sizes 7-14 XW); ​​​​​Price:​​​ ​​From $124.95

Best Boot: Propét Cliff Walker

With a rubber sole and weather-resistant leather exterior, these boots are designed for any weather, all while providing you with optimal comfort, thanks to their EVA (a type of shock-absorbing foam) midsole. They are also medicare approved, which is a plus for those seeking shoes specifically for a medical condition such as diabetes, and come in a variety of other styles.

​​​​Buy it:​​ ​Amazon.com (men’s sizes 7-16 XW); ​​​​Amazon.com (women's sizes 6-12 XW); ​Price:​​​​ ​From $61.15

What to Look for in Shoes for Diabetes

Here are a few features to keep in mind when shopping for the best shoes to help relieve the symptoms of diabetes.

1. Comfort

Comfort is always an important factor when shopping for a shoe, but especially so if you have diabetes.

"Softness, or the ability for the shoe to lie on top of your foot and not cause damage, is important in the prevention of ulcerations on the top of your foot," says Dr. Robinson.

2. Depth

Shoe depth is important, because it prevents rubbing on the toes and other parts of the foot, according Dr. Hanft. "Having extra depth in the toe box and upper space of the shoe can keep feet healthier," he adds.

3. Support

Many people with diabetes have structural issues, such as calluses, in addition to peripheral neuropathy, so it's important to have appropriate support in the shoe. "You need support to prevent injuries related to instability, particularly as you may not feel injuries in your feet if you have diabetes," says Dr. Robinson.

4. Toe Box Width

Dr. Robinson warns against any shoes that are rigid or tight, as they can cause injury to the top of the foot and even lead to ulcerations. For this reason, it's a good idea to buy shoes that have a wide and high toe box to provide sufficient room for your toes.

Shop More of Our Picks for Great Shoes

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references

Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.

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