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Footwear and Diabetes: Your Shoe Choice Matters

If you're living with diabetes, you're likely already aware of the importance of managing your blood sugar levels, eating a well-balanced diet, and exercising. But did you know that your choice of footwear matters? Your shoes always have a significant impact on your foot health, but it’s even more important if you have diabetes.

In this article, our team of board-certified wound care specialists and podiatrists at Diabetic Foot and Wound Center explores why your shoe choice matters when you have diabetes.

Why your shoe choice matters 

As someone with diabetes, you may already understand the potential foot-related complications that can arise, including neuropathy (nerve damage) and poor circulation. These issues can make your feet more vulnerable to injury, infection, gangrene, and even amputations

That's where the right footwear comes in:


Ill-fitting or poorly designed shoes can create hot spots on your feet. You can think of these hot spots as pre-blisters. Friction from ill-fitting shoes can lead to blisters, calluses, and even ulcers. It doesn’t take long for friction to cause a blister. Even a few hours in poorly fitting shoes can wreak havoc on your feet. A seemingly innocent blister can spiral into an infected or slow-healing wound.

Inadequate support

Proper arch support is crucial for everyone, but especially for individuals with diabetes. Shoes with inadequate support can contribute to foot deformities and exacerbate existing problems, such as bunions.


Diabetes can make you more susceptible to foot infections, including both nail infections and athlete's foot. Shoes with good breathability help keep your feet dry and reduce the risk of fungal or bacterial growth.

Tip: Always change your socks if they become damp, and dry your shoes between uses.


A good pair of shoes provides protection against sharp objects and potential hazards to prevent cuts, bruises, and wounds. These wounds can be slow to heal in individuals with poor circulation in their feet.

Accommodating orthotics

If you wear custom orthotic inserts, your shoes should have enough space to accommodate them comfortably. If not, it may be difficult to wear your orthotics. 

Tips for choosing the right footwear

Now that you understand why your shoe choice is critical, here are some tips to help you make the best decisions for your foot health:

Get professionally fitted

Visit a reputable shoe store where knowledgeable staff can measure your feet and recommend appropriate styles and sizes. 

Tip: Buy shoes in the afternoon when your feet tend to be a little more swollen from a day of walking. If you buy your shoes first thing in the morning, they may feel a little tight if your feet swell throughout the day.

Look for diabetic-friendly shoes

Many brands offer footwear specifically designed for individuals with diabetes. These shoes typically have extra depth, multiple width options, additional cushioning, and seamless interiors to minimize friction. 

Tip: Look for seamless socks, too!

Check for good arch support

The right arch support refers to arch support designed for your specific arches, whether that’s medium (normal), high, or flat.

Choose breathable materials

Opt for shoes made from breathable materials like leather or mesh to keep your feet dry and comfortable.

Inspect for potential hazards

Before wearing new shoes, inspect them for any sharp edges or objects that could cause injury. Make it a habit to shake out your shoes before putting them on. Even a small pebble could potentially lead to problems. For example, if you have nerve damage and experience numbness in your feet, you might not feel a pebble. The pebble could contribute to a blister or sore that could become infected. Always check your shoes!

Replace worn-out shoes

Over time, the cushioning and support in your shoes can wear down, flatten, or even simply deteriorate. Replace your footwear at the first sign of wear.

Test them out

When you get a new pair of shoes, wear them for short periods initially to ensure they are comfortable and don't cause any friction or pressure points. If your shoes hurt, don’t wear them. It isn’t worth the blisters and pain.

Questions? We’re here to help!

Even with the right pair of shoes, issues can still creep up. Practicing good hygiene, inspecting your feet daily, and scheduling regular foot exams can go a long way toward keeping your feet healthy. 

For more information on managing diabetes-related foot issues, don't hesitate to reach out to the Diabetic Foot and Wound Center in Bakersfield, California, at 661-238-7526. From guidance on choosing the right shoes to addressing diabetes-related issues to managing diabetic wounds, we have you covered. 

If you already spot the signs of an issue, visit our walk-in wound clinic, or schedule an appointment here. Your feet matter, and so do you.

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