Whether you call yourself a beach bum or a hammock head, summer is the time of year to unwind in the sun—and nothing says “summer is here” like a pair of fashionable men or women’s comfortable sandals.
But if your diabetes has you worried about the health and safety of your sensitive feet, the thought of summer and sandals may give you pause.
However, having diabetes shouldn’t condemn you to a summer of sandy, sweaty sneakers. As long as you choose the correct sandals, you can enjoy the warmer months in style without sacrificing comfort and protection. Follow this guide, and you’ll be rocking the perfect pair of diabetic-friendly sandals in no time.
Can Diabetics Wear Sandals?
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes, this question might be at the top of your mind. Of course, diabetic or not, anyone can wear sandals.
Perhaps the better question is: should diabetics wear sandals if they’re concerned about their foot health?
You might have heard that sandals aren’t the optimal footwear for a diabetic patient since:
- They’re open to the elements – Sandals offer less protection than a closed-toe walking shoe, leaving the feet vulnerable to bangs and scrapes.
- Half sizes are hard to come by – Finding the right size can be tricky, leading some to settle for an improper fit.
- They lack arch support – Many sandals (and especially flip-flops) don’t have the best reputation for supporting your sensitive feet.
While these concerns are all valid, in some respects, sandals are the ideal walking shoe for those suffering from neuropathy. The loose-fitting nature of some men’s or women’s slide sandals can help with your blood circulation regularly, and having a more open shoe allows you to monitor your foot health at a glance. Just be sure you know how to stretch leather sandals properly to avoid any abrasion from happening.
Ultimately, if you choose your sandals carefully (and take care while wearing them), you don’t have to shy away from open-toed walking sandals or shoes.
7 Best Sandal Styles for Diabetics
From strappy sandals to slip-on slides, there’s no shortage of summer footwear for the health-conscious diabetic. Here are seven of our favorites for men and women.
#1 Kiwi Slide Sandals
This unisex sandal offers a perfect blend of coverage and airflow. The Kiwi Slide Sandal boasts a wide strap that covers a sizable portion of the foot, and its padding provides maximum comfort. Complete with a hook-and-loop closure for effortless customization, these medium-width slides suit just about any foot.
While you might think that slides are best kept in the home or shower, the Kiwi was designed to handle a little adventure, too. The tread pattern provides extra traction, making these sandals A-OK for your outdoor activities.
#2 Brielle Flatform Sandals
Who said that diabetic footwear needs to be boring? The Brielle Flatform Sandal is a show-stopper—and, more importantly, not a blood flow-stopper. With an adjustable hook-and-loop closure strap at the front, you can tailor the fit as tight or loose as you need. An additional strap at the back keeps your feet in place throughout the day; no need to worry about losing a sandal in the waves!
The slight heel makes these sandals feel dressy, but thanks to Vionic Technology, the foot pain you might associate with platforms is a thing of the past. Available in three ultra-cool styles, the Brielle Flatform Sandal will change the way you think about diabetic footwear forever.
#3 Leo Sandal
For a minimal, rugged-looking summer shoe that will stay put, try the Leo Sandal. Customization is key in diabetic footwear, and these sandals deliver in spades. You can ensure your sandal is snug but not suffocating with its three adjustable straps:
- One in the front at the top of the foot
- One around the front of the ankle
- One around the back of the ankle
From backyard barbecues to transatlantic trips, the Leo Sandal is a diabetic’s best friend. The full-grain leather will entice you to put them on, but the superior orthotic support will allow you to keep them on all night.
#4 Hadlie Slide Sandal
Blessed with multiple concealed adjustment points, the Hadlie Slide Sandal is designed to keep you sleek, chic, and comfy all week. The microfiber-covered footbed is soft and plushy, while the shock-absorbing EVA midsole reduces lower body stress.
Walk to the water and sink into the sand; these strappy sandals aren’t going anywhere.
#5 Charlie Slide Sandal
For a lightweight, stylish sandal for diabetics, look no further than the Charlie Slide Sandal. A leather footbed and straps sit atop a rugged rubber outsole, making these summer shoes as versatile as they are comfortable.
The buckle-clad straps are fully adjustable, and the orthotic support is podiatrist-designed and approved. While they may not have quite as much coverage as some slides due to the gap between the straps, the difference is negligible—and the look is superb.
#6 Wanda T-Strap Sandal
What this post sandal lacks in coverage, it makes up for in lightweight breathability. At first glance, the Wanda T-Strap Sandal may not seem like an ideal candidate for the “best diabetic sandal” title. But between its adjustable strap and biomechanically designed arch support system, it’s hard to find a sandal this simple that still ticks the right boxes.
If you’re the type to toss a pair of sandals in a bag and hit the beach, these portable post sandals are for you.
#7 Leticia Wedge Sandal
While heels and diabetes don’t often mix, the gradual 2.34-inch heel of the Leticia Wedge Sandal is a safe bet for those looking for a little lift. The classy leather straps have a trick up their sleeve: they’re fully adjustable thanks to a nearly-hidden hook-and-loop closure.
Choose from these five fashionable colors to complement your beach attire:
- Dark Blue
- Love Potion
Keep in mind that even a small heel may aggravate your diabetic foot problems. With that said, the Leticia was designed with arch support and alignment in mind, so most diabetics should be able to strut with complete confidence. Always talk to your doctor if you’re unsure.
Why Footwear Matters for Diabetics
You may already know that diabetes affects the feet. But how? If you’re not familiar with how diabetes impacts the body, it can seem strange that a blood sugar imbalance can lead to foot pain and, in rare cases, amputation.
Initially, diabetes can reduce blood flow to the extremities. Because your blood carries oxygen and other nutrients to your feet, reduced blood flow means that cuts, sores, and blisters will take longer to heal.
Diabetes can also lead to neuropathy, a numbness or pain in the feet caused by nerve damage. There are four types of neuropathy, but only one—peripheral neuropathy—affects the feet. Unfortunately, this variety of neuropathy is the most common in diabetics.1
If you suffer from diabetes-related nerve damage, finding the right footwear is essential, as typical symptoms include:
- Bone pain
- Joint pain
Ultimately, the nerve damage means that you may not even feel cuts or blisters, remaining unaware until they become infected. Because the reduction in blood flow keeps these sores from healing, infection is all the more likely. So, you can understand why your choice of sandals really can make all the difference.
Living with Diabetes: What to Look for in a Sandal
Whether one of the above sandals resonates with you or you’d prefer another style, it’s essential to know what makes a summer shoe acceptable for people with diabetes.
In general, the best sandals for diabetics will have some or all of the following qualities:
- Flexibility – To reduce rubbing and unwanted pressure, opt for a shoe made from soft, flexible materials. Options like suede or leather will naturally have a bit of give, so your feet won’t feel constricted (and they’ll look incredible, too).
- Breathability – A lightweight, breathable sandal won’t impact the natural movement of your feet. Plus, lighter shoes are easier to wear for hours at a time.
- Adjustability – As diabetes can lead to more swelling in the feet than usual, adjustable straps are essential, as they allow you to customize the fit throughout the day.2 Be on the lookout for summer shoes with buckles or hook-and-loop closure straps.
- Looser, stretchable straps – Whether your straps are adjustable or not, they need to have some stretch to them. As you walk, your feet will push up against any over-the-foot straps. If these straps are too stiff, they might cause blisters or irritation.
- Arch support – Diabetes or not, built-in arch support is a must-have for any sandal. Low or no arch support can sometimes lead to foot pain. When you couple this pain with regular diabetic foot problems, walking without support can become unbearable. Finding the right orthopedic sandals is key to minimizing foot pain, especially for those with low arches.
- Coverage – Foot coverage is a tricky topic. While more material means less of a chance of cuts and bruises, it may also translate to more potential pressure points. Overall, the right balance between coverage and airflow may depend on your preferences, your specific symptoms, and your doctor’s recommendations.
Have a Sandalicious Summer with Vionic
While health benefits should be your priority when searching for diabetes-friendly sandals to wear with dresses or casual clothes, you shouldn’t have to compromise on style.
Browse our collection of foot-friendly shoes, and enjoy the sweetest sandal styles on your vacation—without worrying about a blood sugar spike.
If you’re planning to stay active on your vacay, check out our guide to simple vacation workouts.
- “Diabetic neuropathy.” Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetic-neuropathy/symptoms-causes/syc-20371580
- Higuera, Valencia. “10 Tips to Treat Swollen Feet from Diabetes.” Healthline. 18 March, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/diabetes-swollen-feet