The 8 Best Shoes for People With Diabetes of 2021

Give your feet the support they need

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The 8 Best Shoes for Diabetics of 2020

People living with diabetes know that fluctuating blood glucose levels can lead to a variety of health complications, many of which involve problems in the feet. In severe cases, diabetes can lead to diminished sensation in the feet, which can predispose to serious infections that could ultimately result in amputation.

With that said, staying on top of your diabetes treatment plan can help lower your risk for these kinds of issues—and wearing the right shoes is a great place to start.

"People with diabetes need to be especially careful with footwear choices," says Jonathan Cluett, M.D., a Boston-based orthopedic surgeon. "Diabetes can affect the nerves that provide sensation throughout your body. Most commonly, this affects your ability to feel sensations in your feet, making people with diabetes susceptible to developing sores, calluses, and ulcers in their feet."

When looking for shoes designed for diabetics, there are a few elements to keep in mind.

"Footwear needs to be properly fitting and should accommodate the individual's foot shape," Dr. Cluett explains. "Proper support and appropriate cushioning are characteristics of shoes that will work well for people with diabetes.”

We researched dozens of shoes for diabetics and evaluated them for reviews, comfort and cushioning level, materials, arch support, coverage, style, and sizing options. Each of the shoes chosen in this article were determined to be the best of these factors.

Here are the best shoes on the market for people who have diabetes.

Our Top Picks
Well-cushioned, roomy, and protective, this sneaker checks all the boxes.
An all-occasion shoe that gives the foot everything it needs.
Anatomical orthotic insoles and ergonomic soles provide excellent support and cushioning
A slipper-esque shoe that provides plenty of cushion and prevents blood flow restriction.
Strikes the right balance between stability, cushioning, and breathability.
A wide sole and toe box give the foot plenty of room and support better balance without extra pressure.
A supportive and protective option for folks who spend hours working on their feet each day.
These slip-on sneakers support and protect your feet at a fraction of the price of most other picks on this list.

Best Overall for Women: Propet Women's Tour Walker Strap Sneaker

Propet Women's Tour Walker Strap
Pros
  • Durable, made from 100% leather

  • Runs true to size

Cons
  • Heavy material doesn't allow for breathability

  • Made with stiff leather that you may have to break in over time

Propet is one of the most popular diabetic shoe brands, and this particular sneaker checks all the boxes: it’s well cushioned, roomy, and protective. The midsole of the shoe is made with EVA foam, offering the perfect balance of support and softness. The 100% leather exterior is soft and forgiving along the top of the foot while also protecting from exposure to debris.

Because the shoe comes in such a range of widths, you can guarantee that you will find one with enough depth for your feet. Its Velcro strap closures make them even easier to put on and take off.

What’s more, many shoes from Propet (including this model) are covered by Medicare, so if you’re concerned about the financial investment that high-quality diabetic shoes can require, this pair might be covered, partially or fully by your insurance.

Arch Support: Yes | Materials: 100% leather, rubber sole | Close-Up: Velcro

Best Overall for Men: Dr. Comfort Men's William-X Diabetic Shoes

Dr. Comfort William X Double Depth Diabetic Shoe
Pros
  • Protective toe box

  • Double depth shoe

Cons
  • Not a lot of traction on the sole

  • May take a few months to break in

This all-occasion footwear from Dr. Comfort gives the foot everything it needs. The extra quarter-inch of room provided by the double depth design accommodates extremely swollen feet and internal brace and ankle-foot orthosis products. It also comes in three different widths to provide even more room.

The protective toe box utilizes additional padding to prevent the type of trauma that can be caused by toe stubbing. And its use of high-quality leather for the uppers helps regulate foot temperature, keeping the feet both cool and dry.

Meanwhile, the shoe has a firm heel counter that helps provide both medial and lateral stability as you move through your day, and the contact closure ensures a great fit without fumbling over any laces. All Dr. Comfort shoes come equipped with shock-absorbing gel insoles as well.

Arch Support: Optional | Materials: 100% leather, rubber sole | Close-Up: Velcro

Best for Neuropathy: Orthofeet Chattanooga Shoe

Orthofeet Chattanooga Mary Jane Shoe
Pros
  • Includes fitting savers and anatomical insoles

  • Breathable mesh fabric

Cons
  • May run small

  • Not washable

Peripheral neuropathy, the type of neuropathy commonly caused by diabetes, results from damage to nerves throughout the body, especially the hands and feet. Symptoms of neuropathy in the feet can include pain, a pins-and-needles sensation, numbness, and weakness.

Luckily, some diabetic shoes are particularly good at alleviating these symptoms, like these Mary Janes from OrthoFeet. The anatomical orthotic insoles and ergonomic soles provide excellent support and cushioning, and the round and wide toe box prevents uncomfortable pressure and leaves plenty of room for toe movement. 

These casual shoes have a breathable fabric upper and soft padded interior that are kind to the skin and help prevent binding. The two-way straps also make it easy to achieve a comfortable fit, as well as slip the shoes on and off comfortably.

Arch Support: Yes | Materials: 100% leather, rubber sole | Close-Up: Two-way strap system

Best for Swelling: MEJORMEN Diabetic Edema Shoes

MEJORMEN Diabetic Edema Shoes
Pros
  • Anti-skid rubber sole

  • Machine washable

Cons
  • May run small

When a person with diabetes experiences swelling in their feet, the last thing they want to do is to put on tight shoes that could restrict blood flow and put pressure on the skin.

For this reason, opt for a slipper-esque shoe like this one from MEJORMEN. The sturdy, non-slip rubber soles make them appropriate for both indoors and outdoors, and the soft felt material at the back of the heel is adjustable to better cater to foot swelling. 

The slippers are extra wide and use velcro adjustments to make it easy to slip in and out. The uppers are made with super soft material, and the insole is lined with high-density foam for a cushioned and flexible walking experience. The toe box is also wider to accommodate swelling and prevent the squeezing of the foot.

Arch Support: Slight arch support | Materials: Microfiber, rubber | Close-Up: Velcro

Best for Walking: Brooks Addiction Walker 2 Shoes

Brooks Addiction Walker 2
Pros
  • Slip resistant

  • BioMoGo DNA cushion that adapts to your step and weight

Cons
  • May run small

  • Not suitable for those with limited mobility due to the laces

Walking shoes for people with diabetes need to have stability, cushioning, and breathability. This pair from Brooks gets the job done with its many diabetes-friendly features. The support system used in the heel of the shoe strategically positions arch support to help keep your body in its natural path of motion.

Meanwhile, they use Brooks proprietary cushioning that adapts to your stride, weight, and speed. The leather exterior adds additional comfort while still giving your feet the breathability and temperature control they need.

Many people with diabetes have commented that they don’t find the aesthetics of diabetic shoes particularly attractive, so these shoes are a refreshing option for someone with this chronic health condition.

Arch Support: Yes | Materials: Leather upper, rubber sole | Close-Up: Laces

Best for Running: New Balance Women's 840 V4 Running Shoes

New Balance 840v4 women's running shoes
Pros
  • Lightweight

  • True to size

  • Wide toe box

Cons
  • Laces up

If you’re feeling ready to kick your workout intensity up a notch, it’s important to pick footwear that will properly support these efforts, especially when pounding the pavement is involved. Luckily, these shoes from New Balance really deliver on all fronts.

The wider sole gives the foot plenty of room while cupping the heel comfortably and supporting better balance. The wide toe box is also ideal for folks worried about pressure sensitivity. Users rave about the amount of cushion they provide for the top, sides, and bottom of the foot.

The shoes aren’t heavy, large, or clunky like other support shoes can be, but they still manage to provide plenty of protection.

Arch Support: Yes | Materials: Mesh, synthetic upper and rubber sole | Close-Up: Lace up

Best Boot: SAS Gretchen Ankle Bootie

SAS Gretchen
Pros
  • Removable, shock-absorbing insole

  • Treated leather won’t absorb water; keeps feet dry

Cons
  • Ankle area may be tight for some

For folks who spend hours upon hours working on their feet each day, a supportive and protective boot is a must-have for your wardrobe. These SAS boots have a removable, shock-absorbing insole that contours from your toe to your heel to create a custom fit. The insole is also made with antimicrobial material that helps reduce friction that can cause heat buildup and inflammation. It even provides extra support through the three main pressure points of the foot—the inside ball, outside ball, and heel—while remaining both flexible and lightweight.

While these boots do have a lace-up design, the heel tab makes it easy to slide them on and off. The leather exterior is both soft to the skin and water-resistant to the weather elements, further keeping your feet dry and safe. Finally, these boots are covered by Medicare, so you might not have to worry about the price tag as much as finding the right fit for your foot.

Arch Support: Yes | Materials: Antimicrobial, leather, rubber sole | Close-Up: Laces

Best Budget: Skechers Performance Go Walk 4 Pursuit Shoe

Skecher's Perofrmance Go Walk 4 Pursuit
Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Midsole cushioning

Cons
  • Limited color variety

These slip-ons from Sketchers come in at a fraction of the price of most other picks on this list, but they still do a great job of supporting and protecting your feet. They use highly responsive midsole cushioning and a high-rebound footbed to give your feet the extra support they need.

Lined with bamboo fabric, they keep your feet cool, dry, and safe from unwanted bacteria. The tapering midfoot design offers improved arch support over previous versions of this shoe.

The mesh fabric on the top of the shoe provides excellent breathability while still protecting your skin from debris that could lead to cuts and scrapes. The nearly seamless construction of the shoe makes it extremely comfortable, and the materials used make it surprisingly lightweight. Consider this slip-on sneaker a safe pick for working a desk job, running errands around town, and relaxing at home. 

Arch Support: Yes | Materials: 100% mesh fabric, rubber sole | Close-Up: Slip on

Final Verdict

At the end of the day, the best diabetic shoe is the one that fits your foot comfortably and securely but with a little room to spare. And because diabetes can be an expensive diagnosis, opting for models like the Propet Women's Tour Walker Strap Sneaker (view at Amazon) and the SAS Gretchen Chukka Boot (view at Zappos) that are covered by Medicare can be another important component of your decision. But as long as you wear a shoe that feels well cushioned and effectively avoids the common symptoms that people with diabetes experience in their feet, you’ve made an excellent choice.

What to Look for in Diabetic Shoes

Cushioning

People with diabetes need to wear shoes that provide their feet with extra cushioning and support to help prevent complications. Most approved shoes offer plenty of heel and arch support, as well as lots of cushion around the ball of the foot. Soft fabrics are used to create the tops of the shoes to better protect sensitive skin from irritation or damage.

Indiana-based podiatrist Alex Kor, DMP, MS, believes that there is a science behind finding a shoe that has the proper amount of support needed for patients with diabetes. “Anything that’s super flexible is not great. You shouldn’t be able to completely bend the shoe in half. On the other hand, if the shoe is entirely too stiff that’s not what you want either.” Dr. Kor stresses that patients should look for a shoe with a lot of room in the toe area, a shoe that doesn’t bend at the arch, and a shoe that has removable soles so you can add custom soles that will help with arch support if needed. 

Depth

Many diabetic shoes are described as having “extra depth,” which speaks specifically to the toe cage of the shoe. Having additional room in this compartment of the shoe can help protect the skin whenever the foot swells or would otherwise experience additional pressure in traditional shoes. In a diabetic shoe, you want to avoid restriction and instead provide plenty of breathing room.

"There are specialty footwear stores that offer custom fitting, and there are all sorts of gadgets that can be used to size feet," says Jonathan Cluett, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon from Boston. "Working with someone who is experienced in sizing footwear can be very helpful. Running stores offer these services, but many specialty footwear stores provide this type of service as well.”

Full Coverage

There are plenty of diabetes-friendly sandals out there, but many experts recommend sticking with closed-toed shoes to better protect the feet from unwanted injury. Even a minor cut can lead to a very problematic infection for a person with diabetes, so minimizing risks of such incidences is key.

But be careful not to buy a pair that fit too tightly. According to Dr. Robert H. Eckel, an endocrinologist who previously practiced at the University of Colorado Hospital, “Make sure socks and shoes do not fit tightly or rub. If sensation is reduced in the feet, pressure can cause sores or inflammation that can result in opened wounds and infection.”

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What types of shoes should you avoid if you have diabetes?

    "People living with diabetes should avoid high-heeled shoes, shoes with a narrow toe box, and sandals or open-toed shoes," explains Dr. Cluett. "These types of footwear can cause pressure to be applied abnormally to a focal part of the foot, or can allow debris to enter around the foot. Your feet should be checked regularly for the development of any pressure areas or sores, and even subtle abnormalities should be addressed quickly before they become a more significant problem."

    Dr. Kor says another important thing to consider is the weight of the shoe. “If the shoe is too heavy it may cause people to fall, especially if we are talking about elderly patients with neuropathy.” He recommends shoes with Velcro, which allows users to easily control the tightness of the shoe and also aids people struggling with dexterity.

  • How often should you wear diabetic shoes?

    According to Dr. Kor, “I tell patients that they should not do any prolonged walking, climbing, or standing in their home without a good supportive shoe or sandal. As much as possible patients should wear shoes with socks in the home.” 

  • How can I prevent and alleviate neuropathy in the feet?

    Along with sturdy shoes, Deena Adimoolam, M.D., a spokesperson for the Endocrine Society, says that with good diabetes control, neuropathy can be prevented via taking prescribed diabetes medications and focusing on a healthy lifestyle. People with diabetes should make regular foot exams a top priority. “The most important step in diabetes foot care is performing daily foot exams. Examine your feet daily with a mirror to be aware of any cuts, calluses, etc. If your feet are dry, make sure to moisturize them daily to prevent skin breakdown or breakage. Also, avoid cutting nails too deep, which can lead to cuts and infection."

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes and your feet. Updated May 7, 2021.