It’s easy to think that the key determinants of good shoes at any age are having the right length and width paired with optimum comfort. While these factors are indeed essential, when it comes to older feet, it is important to take into account the natural changes that occur to the body and feet with age, and the cumulative effects of spending over half a century on our feet, especially with more Australians retiring later in life.
Older feet have significantly more health risks, ranging from losing the protective fatty padding that leaves bones more prominent and vulnerable, to wear and tear damage that can leave joints more stiff and tender, to reduced muscle strength. Older adults also have a significantly higher risk of falling. Falls account for 42% of all hospitalised injuries in Australia and recent research has shown that the natural decline in balance that occurs in adults aged between 51-75 years may also be a predictor of death and survival.
Good footwear can help with all of the above factors, becoming the new ground beneath our feet and influencing how our feet move, the pressure they’re exposed to, how stable we feel – and even how long we feel confident to continue going on daily walks and doing the things we love.
So what should you be looking for in a pair of good shoes for older feet? Here are seven of the key things recommended by our podiatrists.
1. Choose Lightweight
Reduced muscle and bone strength can occur as we grow older – opting for shoes that are built using quality, lightweight materials means that your feet and legs have to bear less weight each time you take a step, helping to minimise end-of-day fatigue and aches. You can find a wide range of lighter shoe options at our online shoe store, or come into one of our selected clinics to speak to our team and get personalised recommendations.
2. Opt For Extra Padding
With our fat pads naturally thinning with age and the bones being more prominent and rigid, the risk of ulcers and pressure wounds can arise. The padding inside of your shoes can help mimic the effects of our body’s fat pads, and help redistribute pressure more evenly and comfortably across the feet, helping reduce the risk of wounds and pain while optimising comfort. This is also where custom foot orthotics should be considered to best reduce the risk of damage to the feet, particularly if any problems with circulation are present.
3. Seek Out Added Stability
One of the reasons that our joints like the ankle joint remain so stable is due to the strength of our ligaments and connective tissues. As we age, however, these structures can change, especially if there is a history of injury to the area, like repeated ankle sprains. Choosing shoes with stabilising features, like ensuring the sole of the foot is sturdy and is not too flexible through the middle, can help improve our stability on our feet, and in turn, improve our confidence and help to maintain independence over time.
4. Look For A Roomier Toe Box
The toe box is the area in the shoe that surrounds the toes. Having sufficient room in the toe box without the toes feeling pressed upon by the shoes will help to prevent rubbing and blisters, reduce the likelihood of ingrown toenails and help prevent trauma to the toenails. Sufficient room in the toe box will also accommodate for age-related nail changes, which for some mean that the growth of their toenails slow which can cause them to become thicker and therefore no longer become comfortable in a shoe with a narrow toe box.
5. Ensure Your Shoes Accommodate Your Unique Foot Changes
There are a number of conditions we see more often in older feet including bunions and tailor bunions, pump bumps, and arthritic changes to the joints which can alter their shape while making them stiffer. It’s important the shoes you choose accommodate for these changes and help keep your feet comfortable in their current state.
6. Check The Soles Are Slip-Resistant
Given the very real risk of falls in older adults that have very serious health consequences, you want to ensure that the soles of the shoes have a good tread and are slip-resistant. You confirm this with your sales assistant, but rubber outsoles are thought to be superior in their ability to increase slip resistance and contribute to falls prevention.
7. Ensure Good Support & Removable Insoles
Our feet take on a large amount of force when we walk – up to two to three times our body weight during movements like pushing off the ground to take another step. This all adds up, especially with reduced muscle strength. Having shoes with good in-built support beneath the feet can help us better manage these forces and demands of walking, thereby helping to reduce aches from tired muscles. We also recommend ensuring that the insoles are removable to be able to accommodate any orthotics if needed in the future.
If you’re currently experiencing any pains or aches during walking, we do recommend seeing a podiatrist to see whether custom foot orthotics could be a good option for you in providing you with the best support that helps reduce your pain and improve your comfort. We find this can produce some much-needed relief for arthritic feet that need a personalised care approach.
Unsure About Which Shoe Is Best For You? Come In And We’ll Help
At My FootDr, we stand behind each shoe we offer both online and in our selected clinics. If you’re unsure about which is the best shoe to help support your feet, we welcome you to come into one of our clinics with an extensive retail selection. Your feet are in good hands with our three promises:
- Fit promise: We will use our expertise and professionalism to ensure the correct fit, every time.
- Care promise: Our diverse and expansive approach will ensure value, satisfaction and best options are evident in every sale.
- Quality promise: We will offer premium brands that have quality features.
We stock over 23 brands, including favourites like Revere, Hush Puppies, Birkenstock, Klouds, Naot, New Balance, Vionic and more. If you’re wanting to buy online and aren’t sure about your size, check out our size guide.
For any enquiries specifically about our shoe range, you can fill in our contact form here.