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No glass slippers: What to look for in footwear

A walking shoe with annotations on the shoe's features.

Photo courtesy of Aetrex

The right shoes can make all the difference for people with MS.  Below are nine expert tips, as part of the “If the shoe fits,” article on finding the right footwear.

  1. Light tread. A heavy tread creates more friction on the ground, and the foot could drag.
  2. Light weight. A heavy shoe takes more energy and effort to lift when walking.
  3. Secure fastening. String or elastic shoelaces and Velcro adjust for a more custom fit than a slip-on.
  4. Broad base. If the heel is too narrow, the shoe is tippy. A wide heel, however, stabilizes the foot while standing.
  5. Extra depth. Built slightly higher all around, added-depth shoes provide support and space for a better fit—and for orthotics or a brace.
  6. Firm heel counter. Press on the shoe at the bottom of the heel—it should feel solid, not soft. Skip loose sling-backs, flip-flops and clogs.
  7. Correct size. A too-small shoe restricts blood flow (problematic if you already have poor leg circulation), but if it’s too large, the foot isn’t stable. The best fit gives ½ to 1 inch of toe room while standing, and no heel slippage.
  8. Low heel. One that’s only 1.5 inches or less, and 2 inches max, helps with balance. Plus, a low heel enables your foot to roll, not slap, as you walk.
  9. Sturdy shank. Made of steel or plastic, the shank runs from heel to forefoot under the sole, and reduces side-to-side foot motion.

Sources: Dr. Terrence Philbin and Monica Wainio

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