Diabetes is a disease that can affect the whole body, including your feet. A leading cause of lower-limb amputation, diabetes can cause painful and dangerous ulcers, peripheral neuropathy and Charcot foot. The American Podiatric Medical Association takes great care to encourage diabetics to stay on top of their foot health, with an awareness campaign that goes into overdrive during November’s American Diabetes Month.
SHOES-n-FEET hope you continue to remember to “Knock Your Socks Off” all throughout the year by checking your feet regularly for cuts or sores that don’t heal, being aware of how your feet feel and speaking to your podiatrist about preventative measures and treatment to keep your feet in tip top shape.
One thing that you might want to speak to your podiatrist about is footwear with a rocker-bottom sole, especially if you are at risk for diabetic ulceration. Such shoes have been used for years to alleviate pressure under the forefoot by transferring your weight forward over the ball of the foot as you walk. The plantar pressure reduction is even more effective when paired with custom orthotics that take into account the shape of the foot and specific pressure distribution. The rocker sole limits movement at the foot joints, preventing tissue damage.
Rocker-bottom shoes also help with motion. The curved structure of the shoe pushes you forward by rapidly transferring pressure from the heel to the forefoot. If you have difficulty raising your toes or if you suffer from Charcot foot (the weakening of the bones and joints in the foot that can be caused by diabetic neuropathy), the propulsion that these shoes offer will make walking easier.
If you’re interested in rocker-bottom shoes, keep in mind that there are three different types: the toe-only rocker (most common), the negative-heel rocker, and the double-rocker. The design affects how much pressure is being redistributed and from/to what parts of the feet. Which kind will work best for you will depend on your needs and foot health issues.
Also keep in mind that while rocker-bottom shoes do have benefits for diabetics, there are risks involved. As mentioned above, diabetes can cause peripheral neuropathy, a type of nerve damage that results in numbness and tingling in the extremities. The lack of foot sensation may cause in balance issues, which the design of rocker sole is going to amplify. Education, training and practice are vital for ensuring stability in these kinds of shoes.