Balance-Boosting Footwear Tips for Older People
Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among older people according to the CDC. Each year, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries. More than 800,000 patients a year require hospitalizations due to a fall injury. In 2015, falls cost more than 15 billion dollars in total medical costs, according to the CDC.
Preventing falls among older Americans is a top health priority, and improved balance can help reduce the risk of a fall. Proper footwear can help improve balance, especially in older people who may struggle with mobility and balance issues.
When selecting a shoe to improve balance, keep these guidelines in mind:
Put shoes to the 1-2-3 test.
- Step one: press on both sides of the heel area to ensure the heel is stiff and won’t collapse.
- Step two: bend the shoe to check for toe flexibility – the shoe shouldn’t bend too much in the toe-box area but it shouldn’t be too stiff and inflexible either.
- Step three: try twisting the shoe; it shouldn’t twist in the middle.
Have your feet professionally measured every time you shoe shop. Natural aging and health changes can cause the size of your feet to change. Measure both feet – late in the day – and shop for the larger foot.
Bring the type of socks you plan to wear with the shoes and walk around the store in the shoes before you purchase them.
If you don’t feel comfortable or sturdy in the store, don’t buy the shoes! Shoes should feel comfortable and supportive immediately. If they don’t feel good right away, “breaking them in” won’t improve things.
If you have specific health challenges or foot issues, talk to a podiatrist about the best footwear for your needs. If you have custom orthotics, take them with you when you shop and try them out in the shoes you’re considering.
Quality shoes can be an investment. Before you buy, check to see if the brand and style you’re considering have earned the APMA seal of acceptance. APMA grants the seal to products found to promote good foot health.