Diabetes — which is marked by a spike in blood sugar levels — can lead to several health complications, including damaged nerves and blood vessels in the feet. Among other reasons, poorly fitting shoes can also put diabetics at risk of issues such as foot ulcers. This calls for diabetics being extra cautious while buying footwear. “If you are diabetic, then undoubtedly you have to be extra cautious while buying footwear. Investing in footwear that is too tight or very loose can make you prone to injury and further complications,” Dr Sheethal Bhramesh, Consultant – Internal Medicine at Apollo Hospitals, Sheshadripuram, said.
According to a study by the University of Dundee, around ¾th of the people worldwide with diabetes wear ill-fitting shoes. “Wearing shoes that are too small or not wide can cause blisters which could turn into ulcers that become infected. Foot care is of utmost importance in diabetes management. To prevent any form of foot injuries which can lead to limb-threatening complications, it is very important for diabetics to wear appropriate footwear,” she said.
As such, is there a right time to buy footwear? Experts say, yes! “It is suggested that you buy it in the evening,” Dr Abhishek Jain, Consultant – Foot and Ankle, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre said. “This is because your feet swell during the day and when you buy shoes in the evening, the shoes are of the maximum size of your feet, and feet get required breathable space.”
Dr Bhramesh explained that during the course of the day, there is fluid retention in the body, especially the legs and arms due to an increase in salt and sugar concentration. “So, if you buy shoes in the morning there are high chances that the footwear might turn out to be too tight. This rule is not only applicable to diabetics but to everyone. Foot size generally increases in the evening due to fluid retention,” she said.
The right shoes for diabetics
For diabetics, it is advised to wear shoes that are roomy and breathable, and not suffocating and narrow. “The shoes given to diabetes patients are called accommodative shoes because the diabetic foot may have some kind of deformity or ulcers here and there. These shoes take care of pressure areas which get worse if a person has neuropathy,” Dr Jain said.
These specially-designed shoes will have “will have arch supports, cushioned cut-outs around points at risk of damage and cushioning at the ball of the foot which is effective in reducing the pressure. There are shoe inserts, arch supports, or shoe fillers such as lifts, wedges and heels which can be customised,” Dr Bhramesh added.
These shoes have flexible materials like silicon, EVA (ethylene and vinyl acetate), or suede. “A decent diabetic shoe should feature a shock-absorbing sole to help reduce strain on your foot’s bottom and should not have sharp edges,” Dr Jain explained.
Concluding, the experts highlighted the timing of buying shoes is applicable for non-diabetics, too.