5 Critical Shoe Features for People With Diabetes

Wearing the right shoes can make a big difference to your foot health! Here are the most critical features you should look for in new shoes.


Managing one's diabetes can feel like a full-time job, so it can be easy to forget the importance of proper foot care. Common complications associated with diabetes can cause nerve damage and lack of sensation in the lower leg, meaning you may not realize when you have a blister, cut, or ulcer on your foot or ankle. This can lead to bacterial growth in the wound and cause a potentially serious infection requiring hospitalization or amputation. By prioritizing your foot health, you decrease your chances of developing serious complications associated with your diabetes.

Protect Your Feet with a Properly Fitted Shoe

One of the most effective methods of keeping your feet healthy is by investing in a pair of diabetic-friendly shoes. A properly fitted shoe will reduce friction on the foot and reduce the risk of developing new wounds on the feet or ankles.

Shopping for new shoes can feel like an overwhelming chore, but looking for these five critical features will help you select shoes that are right for you!

  1. Choose a closed-toe, firm-backed shoe. It is recommended that you wear shoes with a closed-toe and backing to prevent any damage to your feet from your surroundings. Sandals and flip-flops leave the feet exposed, which can lead to scuffing or stubbing of your toes on rocks and other items in your environment. Additionally, sandals typically have straps that may rub against your feet and cause wounds and opportunities for infection. A comfortable closed-toe and firm-backed shoe will keep your feet protected and reduce unnecessary friction.
  2. Look for lightweight, flexible materials. Leather and canvas shoes are ideal because they are durable, flexible, and breathable. Avoid shoes made entirely of rubber, which can trap moisture and lead to infection.
  3. Check for a cushioned sole. Your ideal shoe should have a thick shock-absorbing sole and reduce pressure on the bottom of your foot. Avoid sneakers that have limited cushioning in the sole and can cause ulcers or blisters.
  4. Laces are best. Foot and ankle swelling is a common issue for individuals with diabetes. Laces allow you to easily adjust the tightness of your shoes throughout the day if your feet begin to swell. Alternatively, shoes with adjustable Velcro straps may be a good option if tying shoe laces is difficult for you. Make sure these shoes can be worn with socks and meet the rest of the criteria listed here.
  5. Avoid elevated heels. An elevated heel will cause you to naturally shift your weight into the front part of your foot, creating excessive pressure and friction on your toes. A flat shoe that allows your body weight to be evenly distributed across your entire foot will reduce injuries to your toes.

Other Helpful Tips

  • Always wear socks. Socks add an additional layer of protection to your feet and should always be worn with your shoes. Socks that are moisture wicking, do not contain dye, and sit above the ankle are best.
  • Measure your feet every time you try on new shoes. People with diabetes experience frequent changes to the size and shape of their feet. The shoe size you wore a year ago may not be the best fit today. Remember, the width of your foot is just as important as the length, so make sure you select a shoe that is wide enough to accommodate your foot. Bring a friend or loved one with you or ask an employee at the store to help measure your feet.
  • Try on shoes at the end of the day. Feet tend to swell throughout the day, so it’s important to buy a shoe that can accommodate your foot at its largest size. Wait until late afternoon or early evening to try on shoes to ensure they will fit comfortably for the whole day.
  • Don’t wear new shoes for more than two hours. Break your new shoes in slowly by wearing them for an hour or two each day until they are completely comfortable. Keep your old shoes until your new ones are ready to be worn full time.

Specialty Shoes

Some individuals with diabetes who experience severe swelling or regularly occurring wounds of the feet may need prescription shoes from their doctor. These specialty shoes are typically wider and deeper than a standard sneaker and must be sized for you by a doctor or licensed specialist. If you experience frequent blisters, ulcers, or wounds on your feet, contact your doctor to discuss if you qualify for a pair of prescription shoes.

About Siren Socks

Siren Socks are smart socks that help detect potential issues with your feet. Siren Socks are an FDA-registered Class I medical device and are designed for people living with diabetes and neuropathy. The socks measure your foot temperature. Temperature monitoring has been shown to help reduce the number of diabetic foot ulcers in multiple clinical studies over the past 20 years and is considered the gold standard in diabetic foot care. The information from the socks is monitored by licensed nurses who contact you regularly to check on your health and the status of your feet. Your doctor reviews any issues that arise and determine if a clinic visit is necessary. Siren Socks are covered by Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and many private insurance plans. Interested patients can find a Certified Siren Provider near them and begin the enrollment process by clickinghere.

Interested in Siren Socks

Enroll Now