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Fitting Guide

The importance of proper fitting shoes is underrated and even over looked but it's a big issue for everyone. Improper fitting shoes can cause calluses, blisters, bunions, hammertoes and a variety of other problematic foot conditions. For diabetics that are prone to foot problems, it is even more important for them to wear proper fitting shoes.

Common Foot Problems and Risks with Diabetes

  • Poor circulation
  • Nerve damage
  • Foot ulcers and wounds
  • Infections
  • Amputations

To go into more detail from the list above, damaged blood vessels can cause diabetics to have poor circulation resulting in wounds healing slower and becoming more susceptible to infection. Diabetics are also vulnerable to nerve damage known as diabetic neuropathy which most often affects the legs and feet. Diabetic neuropathy in the early stages can be painful but can also progress and cause a loss of sensation in the affected areas. Poor circulation and diabetic neuropathy become a dangerous combination for diabetics as it creates a higher risk of developing foot ulcers and other foot complications that can lead to amputation - this is why having proper fitting shoes is so important!

Taking Care of Your Feet

  • Find proper fitting shoes that accommodate your needs
  • Have both feet measured at least once a year
  • Schedule regular meetings with your podiatrist

Most diabetics that are following a treatment plan for their diabetes can wear shoes that do not require any modifications, but people with severe foot deformities may require custom made therapeutic shoes and orthotic inserts to accommodate their foot condition(s). It's best to speak with a primary care physician and a podiatrist to see whether custom shoes and inserts are needed or if prefabricated diabetic shoes can be worn instead.

An important part of the shoe buying process is having your feet measured to determine the size and width. Overtime feet tend to change in shape and size so it's a good practice to have you feet measured every year. This service is provided by a podiatrist so make sure to ask them to size and fit your feet during your next visit. Be sure to measure both feet as many people have one foot that is larger than the other.

A common device often found at shoe stores that measures the size and width of feet is the Brannock Device, which measures the length of the foot from heel to toe for the shoe size, and the width of the foot at widest point (typically at the ball of the foot) for the shoe width. For the most accurate measurement, be sure to stand naturally on both feet when being sized. It's also a best practice to measure your feet at the end of the day when they are largest, as feet tend to swell throughout the day.

If a podiatrist or shoe store aren't in the immediate vicinity, you can also find your shoe size and width at home by simply tracing each foot on a piece of paper and measuring the length and width. The tables below provide general measurements for shoe size and width for both men and women.

Women's Length and Width Sizing Chart

US Women's Shoe Size ≈ Length Narrow
or 2A/A
Medium
or B/C
Wide
or D/E
X-Wide
or 2E/3E
5 ≈ 8 1/2" 2 13/16" 3 3/16" 3 9/16" 3 15/16"
5.5 ≈ 8 3/4" 2 7/8" 3 1/4" 3 5/8" 4"
6 ≈ 8 7/8" 2 15/16" 3 5/16" 3 11/16" 4 1/16"
6.5 ≈ 9 1/16" 3" 3 3/8" 3 3/4" 4 1/8"
7 ≈ 9 1/4" 3 1/16" 3 7/16" 3 13/16" 4 3/16"
7.5 ≈ 9 3/8" 3 1/8" 3 1/2" 3 7/8" 4 1/4"
8 ≈ 9 1/2" 3 3/16" 3 9/16" 3 15/16" 4 5/16"
8.5 ≈ 9 11/16" 3 1/4" 3 5/8" 4" 4 3/8"
9 ≈ 9 7/8" 3 3/8" 3 11/16" 4 1/16" 4 7/16"
9.5 ≈ 10" 3 3/8" 3 3/4" 4 1/8" 4 1/2"
10 ≈ 10 3/16" 3 7/16" 3 3/4" 4 3/16" 4 9/16"
10.5 ≈ 10 5/16" 3 1/2" 3 7/8" 4 1/4" 4 5/8"
11 ≈ 10 1/2" 3 9/16" 3 15/16" 4 5/16" 4 11/16"
12 ≈ 10 7/8" 3 11/16" 4 1/16" 4 7/16" 4 13/16"

 

Men's Length and Width Sizing Chart

US Men's Shoe
Size ≈ Length
Narrow
or A/B
Medium
or C/D
Wide
or E/2E
6 ≈ 9 1/4" 3 5/16" 3 1/2" 3 11/16"
6.5 ≈ 9 1/2" 3 5/16" 3 5/8" 3 3/4"
7 ≈ 9 5/8" 3 3/8" 3 5/8" 3 3/4"
7.5 ≈ 9 3/4" 3 3/8" 3 11/16" 3 15/16"
8 ≈ 9 15/16" 3 1/2" 3 3/4" 3 15/16"
8.5 ≈ 10 1/8" 3 5/8" 3 3/4" 4"
9 ≈ 10 1/4" 3 5/8" 3 15/16" 4 1/8"
9.5 ≈ 10 7/16" 3 11/16" 3 15/16" 4 1/8"
10 ≈ 10 9/16" 3 3/4" 4" 4 3/16"
10.5 ≈ 10 3/4" 3 3/4" 4 1/8" 4 5/16"
11 ≈ 10 15/16" 3 15/16" 4 1/8" 4 5/16"
11.5 ≈ 11 1/8" 3 15/16" 4 3/16" 4 3/8"
12 ≈ 11 1/4" 4" 4 5/16" 4 3/8"
12.5 ≈ 11 7/16" 4 1/8" 4 5/16" 4 1/2"
13 ≈ 11 9/16" 4 1/8" 4 5/16" 4 5/8"

Trying Shoes On

Although measurements of the feet offer a good starting point to find proper fitting shoes, each manufacturer builds their shoes on a different last and different styles by the same brand can also be built on different lasts resulting in different fits. The best way to accurately determine if a shoe fits properly is by trying them on. Be sure to wear the type of socks or stockings that would normally be worn and always try on both shoes together. Also make sure to stand up and walk around to ensure the shoes are comfortable and supportive.

  • It is recommended that there be a 1/2 inch to 5/8 inch between the front of the shoes and the longest toe.
  • Make sure the arch of the foot is fully supported and the bend or break of the shoe is located at the ball of the foot.
  • Check the fit for the width of the shoe at the widest and narrowest parts of your foot. If the upper of the shoe bulges out from the midsole, the shoe is too narrow and you need a wider width.
  • Pay attention to the heel and whether it moves around in the shoes as you walk. Rise up on the tip of your toes and see if the heel of the shoe slips off your foot. Proper fitting shoes should slip slightly in the heel but never move excessively or slide completely off the foot.
  • See if the sides of the shoes hit or rub against the ankle bones when standing and walking. Roll the feet to the inside and outside of the ankles. The shoes should feel like they are trying to restrict these movements but it should not feel like excessive pressure is being placed on any area of the foot.
  • Shoes should fit comfortably off the shelf and never need to be broken in, stretched or modified after purchase.

Remember, the key to finding a proper fitting, comfortable and attractive shoe is to find a store with a wide selection and knowledgeable staff. Once you find a trusted store, make a note of them and the shoe buying process as you will need to revisit it for your next shoe purchase which should be every 6-12 months.