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Diabetes of any kind can cause myriad symptoms, including numb or tingling hands and feet, dry skin, sores that are slow to heal and infection, among others. These symptoms can make comfort and protection difficult to find in a shoe. To assist you in your search, we compiled a list of the best shoes for people with diabetes based on expert recommendations.
To find the best shoes for people with diabetes, the Forbes Health editorial team consulted a panel of three podiatrists for their top recommendations. Recommended products were then further evaluated based on price, color options and overall customer satisfaction. Star ratings and superlatives are determined solely by the Forbes Health editorial team. Prices and availability are accurate as of publication and are subject to change.
These no-tie shoes from Orthofeet come in as our top pick, thanks to their slip-on style, comfort and support. “Orthofeet offers a wide toe box with [a] soft, padded fabric interior to alleviate pressure on swollen feet and foot deformities, such as bunions and hammertoes,” says Elizabeth Bass Daughtry, a board-certified podiatrist and foot surgeon based in North Carolina.
She also notes the shoe’s cushioned sole and mild rocker bottom can help improve the ease of walking and propulsion while still offering a rubber outsole for advanced grip and improved stability, all of which can help someone with diabetes who also experiences trouble with balance and neuropathy.
Another pick from Orthofeet, the Coral Stretch Knit sneaker offers flexibility with a stretchable knit fabric and a multi-layer foam sole for arch support, odor protection and moisture control. “[These are an] excellent sneaker option for diabetics who also have plantar fasciitis, hammertoes or arch pain,” says Mehgan Susek, a podiatrist, wound care specialist and podiatric surgeon at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center. “They have a wide toe box to help accommodate toe deformities, such as hammertoes that can be a common deformity with diabetes. [They] also offer great anatomic arch support with a rocker bottom that can make walking more smooth.” Plus, the knit structure of the shoe stretches to adjust for any swelling and/or foot deformities caused by diabetes, she says.
These road-running shoes aren’t just for runners, according to our experts. The Ghost 14 uses Brooks cushioning technology, which offers a smooth and comfortable wear, says Daughtry. The updated midsole features DNA LOFT, the company’s durable yet soft cushioning sole that doesn’t feel squishy and reacts to the wearer’s stride.
“Brooks is another shoe company that has the APMA (American Podiatric Medical Association) seal of approval and is most recently offering two styles for the Medicare-approved diabetic shoe program,” adds Daughtry.
These New Balance walking shoes come with rollbar technology, which offers support for people who have pain in the front of the foot, and a round toe box to accommodate wider widths and foot conditions like bunions, according to Jane E. Andersen, a board-certified podiatrist and foot surgeon based in North Carolina. The shoe’s midsole also offers cushioning and resistance, absorbing impact as the wearer walks, while a rubber sole offers support and flexibility in movement.
This boot made with waterproof leather is an option for those looking for a sturdier shoe without sacrificing comfort. Susek notes the boot’s ability to accommodate a custom diabetic insert, thanks to the removable sole, as well as the shoe’s gentle support. “These and most Propet boots [have] extra depth so they can help offload pressure points to avoid areas of rub that can contribute to sores and ulcerations in diabetics,” she says.
“This New Balance running shoe offers a wide toe box, supportive midsole and added cushioning in the natural flex zones of the foot,” says Daughtry. She also notes the shoe’s shock absorption, which is more than other running shoes—including other New Balance designs—and its rocker bottom assists with propulsion. This shoe’s midsole also offers added foam to wider areas of the insole, enabling increased flexibility in narrower parts of the foot, according to the company.
This shoe’s mesh upper and wide toe box make it a versatile pick, according to Andersen. “It’s fairly accommodating, and although [it’s] not quite as deep as some of the extra-depth shoes, it is fairly roomy. It also comes as the Glycerin GTS 20, which has more built-in support if needed,” she says. However, Andersen notes that older adults who tend to shuffle when they walk should be cautious of any shoe with a tread on the outer sole—especially on carpet.
Much like the Brooks Ghost 14, the Glycerin 20 uses the company’s DNA LOFT v3 in the midsole to give soft and cushioned support. Meanwhile, the shoe’s mesh upper portion is lightweight, breathable and flexible, which can benefit anyone who experiences swelling due to diabetes.
Andersen describes the Free Time as a “classic leather shoe” with extra depth and a wide, round toe box that leaves plenty of room for hammertoes and bunions. “They have a rubber non-slip sole,” she adds, noting that the lack of tread on the shoe’s outer sole helps protect users from tripping on carpet.
Additionally, the shoe’s footbed is removable and features cooling technology to keep feet comfortable and dry throughout the day. The footbeds are also antimicrobial and can be washed.
These shoes are ideal for people looking for a breathable yet supportive sandal. The leather adjustable straps are cushioned and keep the foot in place while the insole is made with shock-absorbing cushion and curves to the natural arches of the foot.
“SAS shoes are well known to provide comfort and support,” says Susek. “They are a great option for diabetics because they offer extra depth options in open and closed toe options, and they’re known to help with foot recovery.”
“This particular Dr. Comfort shoe is my favorite for diabetics who have swelling in their feet, as it’s a versatile and stylish cross-trainer that is high-performance and a double-depth shoe,” says Daughtry, specifically noting this shoe’s flexible no-tie elastic lace system and extra quarter-inch depth, which helps accommodate severe toe deformities, excessive swelling, an AFO brace or diabetic insoles. “The protective toe box provides extra protection from toe stubbing but also offers breathable mesh uppers to help regulate heat and keep feet cool and dry,” she adds.
To determine the best shoes for people with diabetes, Forbes Health consulted a panel of three podiatrists for their top recommended shoes. Recommended products were then ranked based on the following factors:
All star rankings and superlatives were solely determined by the editorial team.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 37 million U.S. adults have diabetes, a chronic condition that affects the body’s ability to process food into energy[1]. Diabetes prevents the body from creating enough insulin—the hormone that regulates sugar in the blood—or prevents the body from using insulin properly. This lack of insulin or lack of response from cells can create an increased amount of sugar in the blood, which can lead to serious conditions like kidney disease, vision loss and heart disease.
Diabetes can appear in several forms: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in children, teens and young adults and is suspected to be the cause of an autoimmune condition that stops the body from producing insulin. Symptoms tend to develop quickly and include frequent urination, feeling thirsty, feeling hungry even after eating, excessive fatigue, blurred vision, slow-to-heal cuts and/or bruises, unintentional weight loss and tingling, pain or numbness in the hands and feet.
There is currently no preventative treatment for this type of diabetes, and those who have the condition must take insulin every day.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and occurs when the body cannot use insulin properly nor regulate blood sugar effectively. This form is commonly diagnosed in adults and can develop over a number of years, sometimes due to a number of lifestyle and genetic factors.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes can be difficult to detect and may go unnoticed for years. However, risk factors can help determine a person’s likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes and raise their awareness of potential symptoms. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:
Type 2 diabetes can be treated by managing certain lifestyle habits, such as diet, exercise and stress management, sometimes in conjunction with insulin injectables or oral medications prescribed by a health care provider. There is no cure for type 2 diabetes, but it can be managed over time. While more research is needed, some studies suggest the condition can be reversed with dietary restrictions.
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy in a pregnant person who doesn’t already have diabetes. This condition occurs when the body can’t produce enough insulin during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes has no symptoms, and much like type 2 diabetes, a person’s medical and family history can help to determine the degree to which they’re at risk.
Gestational diabetes typically resolves itself after the pregnant person gives birth. During pregnancy, the condition can be managed by checking blood sugar regularly, eating a well-balanced diet, staying active and monitoring the health of the baby. However, having gestational diabetes can increase a person’s likelihood of someday developing type 2 diabetes. About 50% of women who had gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC[2]. A person can reduce their risk of gestational diabetes with lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight before pregnancy and getting regular exercise.
Anyone experiencing symptoms due to diabetes might consider purchasing shoes specially designed to help ease their symptoms. A number of symptoms related to diabetes occur specifically in the feet, including:
Shoes made specifically for people with diabetes can help address these symptoms that may occur. For instance, they may include a mesh or fabric upper to allow for additional flexibility in the case of swelling and/or deformities, as well as a cushioned sole and heel to offer extra support and comfort to prevent ulcers.
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(Note: Product details and price are accurate as of publication and are subject to change.)
When shopping for appropriate footwear, a person with diabetes should consider both their symptoms and a shoe’s design. Custom shoes are available for people with nerve damage, foot injuries and/or deformities, orthopedic shoes tend to provide additional comfort, and extra-depth shoes offer additional space for conditions like hammertoes.
It’s also important to consider the shoe material. For example, flexible, mesh material allows for stretching in the instance of foot swelling. Meanwhile, a wide, toe box structure provides additional protection, and certain insoles help promote heel comfort and support. Adjustable laces and no-tie options can be useful as well when it comes to putting the shoes on and taking them off.
While many shoes made for people with diabetes are expensive, some options may be eligible for Medicare coverage, depending on whether the shoes meet specific Medicare criteria outlined by If you choose to visit a specialist to be fitted for a custom shoe design, your provider must accept Medicare as an insurance option for the shoes to be eligible for Medicare coverage.
Information provided on Forbes Health is for educational purposes only. Your health and wellness is unique to you, and the products and services we review may not be right for your circumstances. We do not offer individual medical advice, diagnosis or treatment plans. For personal advice, please consult with a medical professional.
Forbes Health adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. To the best of our knowledge, all content is accurate as of the date posted, though offers contained herein may no longer be available. The opinions expressed are the author’s alone and have not been provided, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers.
Jessica is a writer, editor and media professional who has spent her career working with some of the most influential names in media. Prior to joining Forbes Health, Jessica was the manager of creative communications at Hearst, where she specialized in high-level production and project management. As a freelance writer, Jessica has written across a range of topics, including entertainment, travel and career. Her work can be found in Variety, Paste Magazine, The Muse and on her personal website (
Alena is a professional writer, editor and manager with a lifelong passion for helping others live well. She is also a registered yoga teacher (RYT-200) and a functional medicine certified health coach. She brings more than a decade of media experience to Forbes Health, with a keen focus on building content strategy, ensuring top content quality and empowering readers to make the best health and wellness decisions for themselves.


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