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Best Shoes for Seniors

Helping Seniors Navigate the World with Confidence

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Common walking problems for seniors

As a senior, health concerns such as arthritis pain, balance issues, circulation problems and neuropathy pain can make walking challenging. A survey of participants aged 55 and above found that 25% had difficulties walking. But there are treatments and solutions that can help, including finding the right pair of shoes. 

Physical issues for seniors

A variety of physical conditions affecting seniors can lead to difficulties with balance, coordination and maintaining a comfortable, pain-free, natural gait.

Arthritis pain

Arthritis is a painful inflammatory condition that can make walking difficult. Compared to people without arthritis, patients with arthritis are 55% more likely to develop persistent mobility issues over a 10-year period.

Balance issues

Research shows that around 34.3% of elderly patients in community living settings experience balance disorders. If you have trouble maintaining your balance, it becomes more likely that you could fall, injuring yourself.

Neuropathy pain

Neuropathic pain among older adults is another common problem that can affect the feet. In a study of 145 patients in outpatient geriatric clinics and nursing homes, 78% of them experienced chronic pain, and 32% of them experienced neuropathic pain.

Circulation problems

Circulation can be lower among seniors, especially those who are not very active. This can increase recovery times after exercising, which might discourage some people from working out. This, in turn, can worsen circulation problems, and so on, creating a vicious cycle.

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Reasons for senior walking problems

Although health conditions common among seniors can make walking difficult, there are many treatments that can help reduce symptoms and make walking safer and easier.

Neurological conditions

Depending on the neurological condition a senior has, interventions might include physical therapy, pain management, lifestyle changes, tools to assist with walking (i.e. a cane), prescription and over-the-counter medications, psychological therapies, and more.

Muscle or nerve disorders

A range of treatments may be appropriate for a muscle or nerve disorder among seniors as well, such as physical therapy, exercise, dietary changes, medication use, and more.

Spinal Cord and brain disorders

Oral medications, injections, surgery, physical, occupational or speech therapy, and other interventions may be suitable, depending on the type of spinal cord or brain disorder a patient has.

Prolonged leg crossing or squatting

Spending too much time sitting in a particular position can lead to nerve problems, as discussed in this study in the Journal of Korean Neurosurgical Society. If a senior is dealing with nerve problems or foot drop as a result of a tendency toward sitting or squatting too long in certain positions, they may need to train themselves to no longer engage in that bad habit. If they are unable to change positions on their own due to limited mobility, they could require assistance from a caretaker or medical professional.

Exercises for seniors with immobility

Seniors who are looking to improve their mobility and enhance the health of their feet, ankles and legs can engage in gentle exercises that increase circulation, flexibility and strength. For example, this study showed that a simple exercise for the feet and legs improved circulation in diabetes patients. Here are a few to try.

Ankle rolls

From a standing or seated position, lift one of your feet off the ground. Use your ankle to rotate your foot in a circle clockwise. Then, switch to doing it counterclockwise. Do the same with the other foot.

Knee marches

To perform this exercise, stand in place. Then, simply start marching, raising your knees up as high as your hips each time so that your thighs are parallel to the ground. Swing your arms as you do these marches.

Seated rows

This exercise targets your upper body, rather than your lower body. To perform it, you will need access to a weighted horizontal cable machine. Take hold of the handlebars, and pull the cable toward your abdomen as you are seated. Then let it go. Then pull it back in toward your abdomen again, and then release. Just keep doing as many reps as you are comfortable with.

Arm raises

Stand upright with your hands at your sides. Then, raise your arms so that they are parallel to the floor. Then lower them. Then raise them back to that same position. Then lower them again. Repeat as many times as necessary.

Calf raises

To perform this exercise, stand with your feet flat on the ground. Then, rise up on your tiptoes. Lower yourself back down. Repeat as many times as you like.

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How to maintain mobility as a senior

While it can be challenging to retain your mobility as you age, there is a lot you can do to keep yourself as mobile and independent as possible. Let’s go over a few simple but effective recommendations.

Install safety equipment in home

The CDC reports that older adults collectively experience at least 36 million falls every year. If you are prone to slips, stumbles and falls, try installing some safety rails throughout your home, especially in locations like the shower or along stairs. If you can prevent a fall, you also can avoid the long, slow process of healing from the injuries that can follow.

Maintain nutrient rich diet

Keeping your muscles, nerves and joints healthy can assist you with maintaining your mobility. These body tissues require nourishment, so eat a nutritious diet to help.

Remove clutter from home

Simple as it sounds, clearing away clutter in your home can be an effective step to take to preserve your mobility and prevent injuries. While you are getting rid of clutter, make sure your furnishings are not intruding on the pathways through your home. Get anything you could trip over out of the way.

Tai chi

Two decades of research show that Tai Chi can be a valuable means for seniors to bolster their balance and mobility. This gentle but effective practice is one that many older adults can engage in thanks to its low-impact nature.

Enlist walking aids

In some cases, seniors can benefit from using a walking aid such as a cane to maintain their balance and safety.

Medical rehab programs

A wide variety of medical rehabilitation programs exist to help seniors maintain and increase their mobility and independence. These programs can incorporate modalities such as physical therapy (PT), exercise, psychological therapies, and more.

Features of shoes for seniors

Here are some of the features that are important to look for when you are shopping for shoes as an older adult.

Image showing the ankle support of an adaptive shoe

Arch support

Choosing shoes that provide plenty of arch support will help you to prevent pain while walking or standing, and keep your ankles, knees and hips properly aligned. This in turn will improve your posture and help prevent additional pain or injury while walking or standing.

Shoe sole of an adaptive shoe


Slips and falls are common among older adults. Shop for shoes that feature good tread. That way, you will get ample traction even on slick surfaces, making it less likely that you will slip and fall.

Easy to put on

Being able to put shoes on and take them off with ease can be an important feature for seniors who have difficulties with mobility. For example, if you have arthritis in your fingers, being able to quickly and easily get in or out of your shoes can spare you some pain.

White Adaptive Shoes by Cadense photographed from the top


It is ideal for shoes for seniors to be lightweight. Shoes that weigh little require less energy to lift the feet. They also improve stability and physical function. That means that it is possible to walk longer distances with less fatigue, which can enhance mobility and independence. Lightweight shoes may also feel more comfortable and enjoyable to wear.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a ‘good’ shoe for seniors?

A good shoe for seniors offers firm but comfortable support, improves stability, cushions the soles, is easy to put on and take off, and includes features that make it easier to take natural steps.

Can shoes help relieve joint pain in seniors?

If a shoe has good shock-absorbing properties and helps to maintain the alignment and stability of the ankle, then yes, it could help to alleviate joint pain in seniors.

Are heavier or lighter shoes better for seniors?

Seniors are advised to shop for shoes that are relatively lightweight. These shoes require less effort to walk in, thus helping to minimise fatigue.

How do I know if a shoe has enough arch support for a senior?

If you are trying to choose a shoe to buy, you can read the product description and take a look at customer reviews. See what other seniors who need substantial arch support have to say about the product.

If you are trying to evaluate shoes you already own, take note of whether you have excessive pain while wearing them. That could be a sign they are not providing adequate arch support.

I would like more information on senior health

To keep learning about senior health, particularly with respect to feet and mobility, explore the posts in our blog

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