This is an often asked question in my office, and I'm sure in many other podiatrists' offices, as well. The answer may not be simple, for everyone's feet are different, but there are some useful guidelines.
For many baby boomers, walking may be the only form of exercise they do. Several studies have shown the relationship between regular exercise and longer life expectancy and better health. That is one reason why finding the right type of shoe is critical for keeping pain-free, active and healthy.
Common foot problems unique to seniors are fat atrophy, arthritis, neuropathy and muscle weakness. In general, a supportive shoe with a soft innersole or memory type insert is a good start. Along with muscle strengthening and stretching exercises, lighter shoes can be worn with greater success.
Running shoes for seniors are a good choice since they are lightweight, more "breathable", and have better cushioning and support than conventional slip-on shoes. Seniors should avoid heavy or bulky shoes, as they can cause tripping, falling or just inactivity. If the shoes have no stability or support, in the case of slippers or moccasins, patients can loose balance, fall or develop foot or arch pain. For patients who use walkers or canes, Velcro or Lycra style shoes are usually well tolerated.
Always be certain to buy shoes that are roomy in the toe-box, well cushioned, have a slightly raised heel and an sole that neither "slips" or "grips". When trying on shoes, they should feel comfortable immediately. There is no such a thing as "breaking in" shoes.
Our office is always happy to assist in evaluating your foot care needs and keeping you as healthy as possible in 2017!