Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Diabetes and Minimalist Shoes

One of the first thing I noticed after becoming a full-time minimalist during the summer of 2009 was the increase in "vascularity" in my feet.  The increased demands I was placing on my feet were met by increased blood flow (the veins got bigger, which my wife pointed out to me), and circulation got much better (warm feet all through the winter).

Now one group of folks who would seem at first blush to be bad candidates for barefoot-style shoes are diabetics.  Late-stage diabetes typically results in poor circulation to the feet, and in "peripheral neuropathy", that is, loss of feeling in the feet.

The loss of feeling means that diabetics are indeed poor candidates for barefooting.  You must have good feeling in your feet to avoid injury.  But increasing circulation should be a good thing.  Fortunately, there are a number of good options for diabetics looking to take advantage of the barefoot running movement.

It turns out that the production manager for one of the good options, Feelmax, is a diabetic.  Here's what he has to say about his experience:

"Well, I have diabetes as well and since 3 years I use Feelmax shoes (easy on me please :-) ) and my feelings in both feets have improved. Still can not run as I have wound on my foot (right - ball area) that is not healing well, but it is going in the right direction and looks that it is finally in the stage of closing up. Running is still out for me, but I wear my Feelmax as much as I can and my doctor told me that the blood circulation has improved in both of my feet.

"I do think that minimal footwear is the way to go in this case and also a large / covert toe box that protect the toes is needed. "
While I think that podiatrists are often way off base on their shoe recommendations, this is one case where if you're seeing a podiatrist for diabetic foot care, you should certainly consult with him.  His primary concern ought to be ensuring that your feet are protected, which is a valid concern.