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Falls: managing the ups and downs of MS Feet and footwear

"Men's shoes are made in wider sizes than women's. If I can't find a proper fit, I sometimes find something more comfortable in the men's department. Sometimes it's better to forego fashion for safety and comfort"

Suitable and well fitting footwear can play a role in reducing the risk of falling. Conversely, poorly fitting shoes with inadequate grip can potentially be a cause of falls. Whilst this applies to everyone, regardless of any health conditions, it is particularly relevant for those people with MS who are less steady on their feet.

What to do:

  • Balance will tend to be better in comfortably fitting shoes with good support around the heel and flat, non-skid soles
  • Have your feet measured regularly as your shoe size may change. There are specialist ranges of shoes for wider feet
  • Shoes with laces or with Velcro fastenings that can be adjusted may be safer than slip-ons that can become loose with wear
  • Boots can be helpful as they provide ankle support
  • If you are prone to fatigue, avoid cumbersome or heavy shoes that quickly tire your muscles
  • If you have trouble balancing when putting on your shoes, try sitting down or using a long-handled shoehorn
  • If shoes have a slippery sole, consider asking a shoe repair shop to add textured strips
  • Walking in socks or tights can increase the chance of slipping on tiled or slippery surfaces. Around the house it is safer to wear slippers with non-slip soles (though be aware that if you have difficulty lifting your feet and shuffle around the house, non-slip soles might add to the risk of tripping)
  • If it helps to feel the floor, try thin soled ballet shoes
  • Shoes will feel more comfortable if you keep your toenails trimmed. If this is difficult to do yourself, have regular check-ups with a podiatrist or foot-care specialist
  • A podiatrist can help suggest toe props or arch supports that can be worn inside shoes to help with painful feet
  • Putting your feet up when appropriate can improve circulation and reduce swollen ankles

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