“You shouldn’t walk in heels higher than three inches,” podiatrist Dr. Emily Splichal says. “Anything over the three-inch mark changes the biomechanics of how you walk—your strides are shortened, you can’t walk as fast, your body weight shifts to the ball of the foot, which throws off your center of gravity and stresses the knees and lower back.”
Two complications people with diabetes may be at risk for are poor circulation and the absence of sensation, according to John Giurini, DPM, Chief, Division of Podiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
“A platform won’t help matters—the effect is just as damaging”, Splichal says. Also harmful is a too-flat shoe, she cautions, especially if someone’s foot is naturally flat (little to no arch versus a high arch): “A little heel, like a one-inch heel, puts the foot into a more stable position.”
People with diabetes and specific foot deformities should buy shoes that match the width of their foot, perhaps with extra depth. Those with diabetes and severe foot deformities can get a custom molded shoe made, but Giurini says to only do this if it’s absolutely necessary.
The takeaway here is to shop for shoes with heels that range between one inch and three in height. “Avoid heels that are both too flat or too high,” she advises. “Avoid the extremes.”
It’s important that people with diabetes visit a podiatrist on a regular basis based on their risk for diabetes complications. If you’re at a higher risk for diabetes complications and already have foot problems, you should go more frequently.
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