How to pick the right walking shoes when you have diabetes

October 9, 2015

The fitness world will always try to sell you all kinds of gear, but the one big investment people with diabetes should look into is a good pair of walking shoes. They'll help you travel farther, faster and in greater comfort and lessen the risk of injury. Here are some hints to help you pick the right one.

How to pick the right walking shoes when you have diabetes

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Footwear buying tips

Your old running shoes may seem okay, but they surely don't have flared heels which are wider than the shoe itself at the base. That flare provides stability if you're galloping fast, but can prevent your foot from rolling normally while walking. Good walking shoes should have an undercut heel.

So what's the secret to buying the right shoes?

Explain your needs to an expert
Go to a respected athletic-footwear store where a skilled salesperson can recommend the ideal shoe for your foot shape and size.

  • Explain what type of terrain you'll be walking on and how far you plan to walk each week.

Bring along some well-worn sneakers
A savvy salesperson can look at the wear pattern on your shoes to help pick out a style that's right for your foot type. For example:

  • If the inner heel is more worn than the outer heel, your foot probably turns in excessively as you walk. In this case, you'll want some extra arch support and a shoe designed for "motion control."

Test-drive new shoes
Try on your shoes and walk around the store.

  • They should hug your heel and not slide up and down as you walk.

Look for firmness and flexibility
The shoes you wind up buying should also be flexible, but have firm arch support. Most important?

  • The shoes should also feel comfortable when you walk.

Go for quality
A good walking shoe will last about 550 kilometres (341 miles).

  • If you walk 15 kilometres (nine miles) a week, new shoes should last for about nine months.

What can trigger serious foot injuries?

Having diabetes puts you a a predisposition for injuries on the feet that don't heal, which has the potential to lead to something even worse. That's why good footwear is a must. So how does a foot injury occur?

  • With some form of injury that breaks the skin, the protective barrier that keeps germs out of your body. The cause? Perhaps your shoes don't fit quite right or you stepped on a stone.
  • Once the damaged area becomes infected, healing may prove difficult, especially if you keep walking on it or aren't aware that it's there. Neuropathy can be common when you have diabetes.  As a result, an open sore or ulcer can possibly develop quickly.

An ulcer is serious business – and a good reason to call your doctor.

  • Infection from uncontrolled ulcers can burrow deeper into your skin.
  • Left untreated, an ulcer can eventually reach the bone, putting the entire foot or leg at risk.

When you've had diabetes for a long time, feet may also become vulnerable to a condition called Charcot's foot.

  • This condition is characterized by numbness and poor reflexes from neuropathy, which cause missteps that destroy joints in the foot over time.

Fortunately, paying a little extra attention to your feet can go a long way towards keeping them healthy, and that all starts with proper walking shoes.

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