Diabetic Footcare: What employers and sufferers need to know about buying footwear.

Most people are aware of the importance of well-fitting shoes to musculo skeletal health and overall wellness. But this importance takes on a whole new scale of significance when it comes to the foot care needs of Diabetics.

Diabetes UK reports that 4.3 million people are now living with a diagnosis of diabetes in the UK, and that more than 2.4 million people are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing problems in their feet because high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels, affecting how blood flows to the feet and legs. Over time diabetes can cause significant nerve damage, known as diabetic neuropathy, that can cause tingling and sharp, shooting pain, as well as causing numbness in the feet.

This loss of feeling can lead to a situation where the sufferer is unaware of a blister or other damage caused by poor fitting shoes or a foreign object inside a shoe. In a worst-case scenario ulcers and foot infections can lead to gangrene and potentially amputations. In fact, every week in the UK diabetes leads to 184 amputations; diabetes is the most common cause of lower limb amputations in the UK.

Foot comfort and care are therefore of vital importance to any diabetic, particularly when they are wearing shoes for long periods of time while working. As well taking care of the feet with regular checks and skincare, there are many ways that choosing the correct footwear can also make a significant difference:

Dynamic fitting

Because the nerves and blood vessels supplying the toes are so long and delicate this part of the foot is often affected first. Additionally, peripheral oedema (swelling) of the foot is a common side effect of diabetes. Ensuring correct sizing is vital to prevent rubbing and constriction of the foot.

Female fit shoes for women

Safety shoes are often built on a last designed around a male foot, however the structure and proportions of a female foot are considerably different: using a shoe designed for a female will allow a much better fit to be achieved.

Multiple width systems

Wide fit shoes are the best choice for a diabetic. Shoes that are too narrow can squeeze the foot, potentially causing bunions, blisters, corns and calluses. A wide shoe is less likely to cause this kind of damage.

Foot locking systems

TEnsuring good fit means that being able to adjust the fit of the shoe is important. Choosing an adjustable shoe fastening that will prevent the foot sliding around the shoe can prevent blisters and calluses.

Boa lacing system

Boa lacing, originally designed for specialist sporting footwear, consists of a flexible cable, very resistant to traction and wear, which can be tightened by turning a knob, and released instantly with a simple movement (rotating in the reverse direction or pulling the knob). The advantage of the Boa System in safety shoes is the extreme speed with which the footwear can be opened in an emergency. Moreover, the closure can be adjusted in many points of the shoe, so adapting the footwear to the shape of the foot. That’s why many diabetics prefer to use shoes with Boa lacing system.

Shock absorbance

Pressure caused by standing for long periods can again lead to problems with corns, calluses and bunions. A thick, shock absorbing sole will ease pressure on the foot. Additional arch support may be important for some types of feet and this can be achieved with the addition of an insole.

Moisture wicking

It is important for feet not to be damp or wet, as this can lead to dry skin and potentially cracking and infections. Ensuring that shoes are breathable allows moisture to be wicked away from the skin and damp conditions to be avoided. Breathable socks are also helpful, made from moisture regulating materials to keep the feet dry.

Grip:

Numbness caused by nerve damage in the extremities can produce changes in gait, impact posture and affect balance, making diabetics more likely to suffer from slips, trips or falls. Ensuring good grip will support the foot and reduce the possibility of a stumble.

Clearly, the health issues caused by diabetes can have life changing effects if feet are not protected adequately. By considering all the factors above when choosing safety footwear, you can support employee wellness, so reducing absence and allowing workers to be more effective in their roles. And importantly, you will be enhancing overall safety, by reducing the slips, trips and falls that a diabetic may be more prone to suffering.

Over the last 20 years, Anchor Safety have been supporting diabetics by introducing them to Bata footwear, made with wide fitting options. They are extremely comfortable – so comfortable that wearers return to them time after time and have even been known to buy multiple pairs to wear both at work and home. Bata have over 125 years of experience in creating footwear and specialise in safety shoes, boots and trainers which protect the foot from a variety of hazards faced in the workplace. The Bata Walkline Boot series benefits from a triple width fitting, built on a natural shaped last, with a triple shock absorption system. Dynamic soles offer harder and softer components in the right places, creating a perfect balance between shock absorption, stability and support for the natural rolling movement of the foot, as well as offering superior grip on any surface.

Over the last 20 years, Anchor Safety have been supporting diabetics by introducing them to Bata footwear, made with wide fitting options. They are extremely comfortable – so comfortable that wearers return to them time after time and have even been known to buy multiple pairs to wear both at work and home. Bata have over 125 years of experience in creating footwear and specialise in safety shoes, boots and trainers which protect the foot from a variety of hazards faced in the workplace. The Bata Walkline Boot series benefits from a triple width fitting, built on a natural shaped last, with a triple shock absorption system. Dynamic soles offer harder and softer components in the right places, creating a perfect balance between shock absorption, stability and support for the natural rolling movement of the foot, as well as offering superior grip on any surface.

For more information or further advice call an Anchor Safety expert on 0800 328 5028 or visit the Bata product page.

See the Bata Foot Protection range


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