For diabetics, walking—and a lot of it—can be an issue. For those who’ve dealt with diabetes for years, it can be even more complicated.
High blood sugars, over an extended period of time, can be damaging to nerves in many parts of the body, but is most common in the feet. This damage can impair sensation, putting diabetics at risk of cuts and/or other injuries to their feet, which may lead to even more serious problems.
Diabetics can also suffer from impaired circulation. While this affects may areas of the body, it is most common in the feet. The consequences of poor circulation are slowed healing.
Combine these two issues and you can have a recipe for serious foot damage. However, these problems aren’t inevitable. In fact, close control of blood sugars has been proven to reduce or delay complications from diabetes, including those affecting the feet.
Another great way to help reduce complications from diabetes is to get out and get moving. Both diet and exercise can be very effective methods for managing and controlling the effects of diabetes. Regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, helps lower blood sugars. Read more about this on our blog post “The Benefits of Walking (For Diabetics)”.
A quick review of diabetes message boards may offer up additional ideas for disease management as well as examples of people who have stabilized or reduced their peripheral neuropathy symptoms.
For those diabetics who are able to manage their disease and are regular walkers, travel can be the perfect opportunity to get out and explore the world. And with the right footwear and foot care, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.
The Right Footwear
So, what is the right footwear for someone with diabetes? Shoes designed especially for people with diabetes are built to help prevent the formation of foot ulcers or calluses. In fact, many of these footwear options are designed with the help of foot health professionals, like podiatrists and pedorthists. They feature extra width and depth in the toe box and forefoot to relieve and reduce pressure in key areas of the feet.
In addition, there are many socks designed specifically for diabetics. These socks are typically manufactured without seams, which can often cause rubbing and create blisters or ulcers. And they’re designed to wick away moisture, keep feet warm and dry and include non-binding cuffs to avoid constricting circulation.
Proper Foot Care
There are many things you can do to keep your feet healthy.
- Take care of your diabetes. This will ensure your feet stay injury free and healthy.
- Check your feet every day and pay special attention to red spots, cuts, swelling, and blisters. If you cannot see the bottoms of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone for help.
- Be more active. Plan a physical activity program with your health care team.
- Ask your doctor about shoes designed specifically for people with diabetes.
- Wash your feet every day. Dry them carefully, especially between the toes.
- Keep your feet soft and smooth. After washing and drying feet, rub them with the tops and bottoms with foot cream, but avoid putting lotion between your toes.
- If you can see and reach your toenails, trim them straight across when needed. File the edges with an emery board or nail file.
- Wear shoes and socks at all times. Don’t walk barefoot. Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and protect your feet. Check inside your shoes before wearing them. Make sure the lining is smooth and there is nothing that could cause injury inside either shoe.
- Protect your feet from hot and cold. Wear shoes at the beach or on hot pavement. Avoid hot water. Don’t use hot water bottles, heating pads, or electric blankets.
- Keep the blood flowing to your feet. Put your feet up when sitting. Wiggle your toes and flex your ankles for 5 minutes, 2-3 times a day. Don’t cross your legs for long periods of time. Don’t smoke.
- Get started now. Set a time every day to check your feet. Then do it. Every day.
In addition to the helpful tips above, when traveling, pack a foot care kit and be sure to consult a doctor if you have any issues with blisters, ulcers or calluses. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Get Out & Explore
Travel offers the perfect opportunity for adventure. And your feet, if cared for properly, will serve you well on many travels!