Why safe footwear is important

“Does it matter what shoes I wear if I’ve fallen or feel unsteady?” This is something we are often asked during an assessment. The answer is yes!

There are many different styles of shoe and slipper, and with experience we have identified some common culprits for falls risk. When we meet someone for the first time we always check footwear – be warned! We don’t only look at the shoes being worn at the time but also other shoes we see in the home. This is one of the reasons our home visit service is so comprehensive and effective in reducing falls risk.

The most common problem footwear we see are backless slippers. Some people state they have never stepped backwards out of them, or felt unsteady. Yet when watching their walking pattern, it is sometimes clear that people’s knees are not lifting and there is more of a shuffle to prevent the slippers falling off. Over time shuffling could become a normal walking pattern. Shuffling can increase risk of tripping and falling. This is one of the reasons physiotherapists will always analyse walking pattern and ensure shuffling is corrected with footwear advice, walking education and rehab, exercise and walking aids.

There are many types of footwear to choose from, where to start?! We always recommend Cosy Feet for indoor and outdoor footwear. They offer supportive options and expanding shoes to accommodate swelling which suits many of the people we work with. Shoes should fit well; not too loose and not too tight. They should not have raised heels (unless the shoes has been raised by an orthotist). Footwear should have good support around the foot including the back. The sole should not be slippy or have worn out grips. Shoes should be in good condition without holes or loose material. If laces are tricky, Velcro is a very good option.

If you have any concerns about whether your footwear is as safe as it can be, please ask during your assessment with your physiotherapist.

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