Diabetic Shoes

The 26 Review

  • What are diabetic shoes Specially designed shoe inserts and approved shoes that help reduce risk of developing abnormal or negative foot conditions
  • Why To help alleviate or prevent diabetic related foot conditions including pain, numbness, and wounds
  • How Diabetic shoes provide more comfort, shock absorption, offloading, and space to prevent or treat various diabetic related foot conditions
  • Recommended For Patients with diabetes who experience pain in their feet and/or have diabetic related foot conditions like; bunions, corns, neuropathy, hammertoes, and a history of wounds
  • Types In-depth or custom-made shoes, custom-made shoe inserts

Let’s take a closer look…

People suffering from diabetes are all too familiar with the potential threat of infection, nerve damage, and sometimes amputation when battling this disease. Most people living with diabetes experience decreased sensation and restricted blood flow to their feet due to nerve disease and/or PAD. These two issues combined can in turn cause ulcers and infections that may lead to worsening conditions and sometimes amputation. However, the good news is that most conditions that occur because of diabetes are preventable with regular visits to a podiatrist and most importantly, proper footwear.

Diabetic shoes are specifically designed to protect the feet from forces that can cause the skin to break down and develop painful sores and ulcers. The risk of wounds to the feet is particularly higher in diabetic patients, because poor circulation and neuropathy reduce the nerves’ ability to heal or even sense damage at all. A proper diabetic shoe provides comfort and protection that lasts all day. Diabetic shoes aid in keeping ulcers from forming, as well as prevent foot strains and calluses. Generally the interior of diabetic shoes are made from soft, seamless materials to prevent irritation from stitching or other materials. In conjunction, diabetic shoes usually provide a spacious toe-box to offer extra room for the toes, which is especially important when considering deformities like bunions or hammertoes. There are also diabetic shoes that accommodate for custom orthotic inserts by providing extra depth, allowing for greater support and better weight distribution.

26 Foot and Ankle Vascular Custom Molded Orthotics

Features to look for and avoid

Depending on the patient, a doctor may determine that diabetic shoes can aid in preventing further ailments. However, diabetic insoles or socks may be recommended to help support the feet further and provide proper blood flow. At times a combination of diabetic shoes, insoles, and socks may be in order. Always consult a podiatrist before purchasing diabetic footwear to ensure that you get the best option for you and your feet. Listed below are a variety of features to consider before purchasing diabetic shoes.

Beneficial Features

  • Extra depth for diabetic insoles or orthotics
  • A firm heel counter to provide lateral and medial rearfoot stability
  • Padded collar around the ankle
  • Thick, padded tongue and laces or velcro
  • A protective toe-box
  • A non-slip and shock absorbing soles
  • Lightweight, breathable, flexible materials like canvas, leather, or mesh

Features to Avoid

  • Shoes with a pointed toe
  • Shoes without arch support or shock absorbing cushioning
  • Ill-fitting shoes
  • High heels due to the redistribution of weight onto the toes
  • Moisture trapping materials like rubber


For patients who have their diabetes under control and don’t have any true foot problems, a comfortable, well-fitting shoe may be all they need. However, if foot problems do develop, a podiatrist might recommend one of the following shoe options. In addition to buying new shoes, patients can also modify shoes they already own. Utilizing thicker, more shock absorbent insoles or orthotics has proven beneficial.

In-depth Shoes

In-depth shoes are ¼ to ½ inch deeper compared to normal shoes. The additional room can accommodate foot changes like hammertoes or calluses. These shoes also leave enough room for insole inserts, if they’re needed. This type of shoe is beneficial for less extreme diabetic related foot ailments, as well as helpful with reducing certain conditions from arising.

Custom-made Shoes

Custom-made shoes are created from a mold applied to the feet. This type of shoe can be an option for those who have deformities on one or both feet. Therapeutic shoes are a form of custom-made shoes that are specifically designed to keep the feet healthy when struggling with neuropathy, nerve damage, or an existing foot injury. Orthopedic shoes are typically designed to give more comfort to those with bunions, corns, or other foot ailments. Orthopedic shoes are not limited to only those with diabetes, however they tend to help diabetic patients greatly.

Custom-made shoe inserts

Custom-made shoe inserts are also created from a mold of the patient’s feet. This can be done with plaster, foam, or 3-D scanning. The scan is made into a soft accommodative shoe insert that will allow for extra cushion, shock absorption, and appropriate offloading of increased pressures in the bottom of the foot. These custom-made inserts are especially beneficial for patients who suffer from abnormal bone prominences and pressures that typically can result in foot wounds and ulcerations. In the event an individual has suffered from a diabetic wound on the bottom of the foot and has been successful in healing the wound, diabetic shoe inserts are highly recommended to prevent reoccurrence of the plantar wound. When custom diabetic shoe inserts are utilized, they are dispensed for both feet. For those individuals who have had prior amputation of a portion of their foot, it is possible to have a custom insert made with a toe filler to fill in the loss of space in the shoe.

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