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Fall Prevention Week: Stepping Towards Safety: Choosing Footwear to Prevent Falls
Footwear may not always be top of mind when it comes to fall prevention, but the right shoes can significantly impact stability and reduce the risk of falls, particularly for those with specific health conditions like diabetes or neuropathy. Let’s explore the importance of selecting the right footwear to prevent falls and the specialized options available.
General Footwear Guidelines for Fall Prevention:
- Supportive Soles: Choose shoes with sturdy, non-slip soles that provide good traction. Rubber or rubber-like materials are ideal for preventing slips.
- Low Heels: Opt for shoes with low, wide heels. High heels can throw off balance and increase the risk of stumbling.
- Secure Fit: Ensure your shoes fit well and provide ample support around the heel and arch. Shoes that are too loose or too tight can lead to instability.
- Laces or Straps: Shoes with laces or adjustable straps offer a secure fit, minimizing the risk of tripping over loose-fitting footwear.
- Adequate Toe Room: Make sure there’s enough room for your toes to move comfortably. Tight or cramped toe boxes can lead to discomfort, instability, and the formation of wounds due to materials rubbing tightly on skin.
- Replace Worn-Out Shoes: Regularly inspect your shoes for signs of wear and tear. If the soles are worn down or the support has diminished, it’s time to replace them. Note the areas and take phone pics to share with your podiatrist. Knowing how your shoes wear down is an important part of determining the issues that you have with your shoes and providing direction for the best solutions to prevent injuries.
Specialized Footwear for Fall Prevention:
For individuals with specific health concerns like diabetes or neuropathy, specialized footwear can provide extra stability and protection:
- Diabetic Shoes: People with diabetes often experience reduced sensation in their feet due to neuropathy. Diabetic shoes are designed with extra cushioning and a wide, deep toe box to reduce pressure on the feet and minimize the risk of ulcers or sores.
Within the realm of diabetic footwear are custom orthotics. These are the inserts that can be placed in diabetic shoes. The inserts are designed by measuring your feet, so the inserts fit your feet exactly. This reduces rubbing that could cause foot sores or ulcers. Additionally, your physician may order a CROW boot or two depending on the severity of your feet being affected by Charcot foot, a diabetic foot disease. These boots are created by measurements gathered from casting your foot/feet. They hold your foot in a 90-degree angle and are very good at providing stability to feet that are deeply affected by diabetes.
- Orthopedic Shoes: Orthopedic shoes are tailored to provide extra support and stability. They can be customized with orthotic inserts to address specific foot issues and improve balance.
- Fall Prevention Shoes: Some brands offer footwear explicitly designed for fall prevention. These shoes typically feature anti-slip soles, cushioned insoles, and secure fastenings for a snug fit.
There are steps you can take to maximize the effectiveness of your special fall prevention footwear, as replacement can be expensive and is not always covered by insurance that may have paid for it the first time.
- Keep shoes clean and dry to maintain traction.
- Check for loose soles, damaged laces, or worn-out insoles regularly.
- Consider consulting a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist for recommendations tailored to your specific needs.
- Choosing the right footwear is a critical aspect of fall prevention.
Footwear Care and Maintenance:
Whether you’re looking for general fall prevention shoes or specialized footwear for specific health conditions, investing in the right pair can significantly enhance stability and reduce the risk of falls, helping you stay safe and mobile as you age.
Please enjoy the next story in our blog series about fall prevention: Fall Prevention Week: Enjoying Safe Recreational Activities: Reducing Fall Risks While Having Fun