With MS, a New Pair of Shoes Makes a Big Difference

Ed Tobias avatar

by Ed Tobias |

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I wish I could walk a mile in my shoes, but even with a new pair, that’s not going to happen.

My MS limits me to about 100 steps while using two canes and a functional electrical stimulation device strapped under my left knee. Because walking is so difficult, what I wear on my feet is important.

What I want in my MS shoe

I like a shoe with a smooth rubber sole that gives me a little cushion but doesn’t grab. Others prefer a leather sole that allows the shoe to slide over the floor rather than stick to it. Little weight, inner comfort, good support, and low price also are important to me.

I have a great pair of Mephisto dress loafers from my working days. They’re light and offer the right amount of bounce and comfort. They slip onto my feet fairly easily, and their rubber soles are flat enough so that I can slide my left foot, which refuses to lift, over most floor surfaces.

But because they have no laces, they don’t offer the best support. And they’re expensive, to the tune of about $300. (Mephisto offers to rehab worn shoes for about $100 a pair.) Just the same, they’ve been my go-to shoe since I unexpectedly discovered about two years ago how well I can walk in them.

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Recently, I tried a pair of Sperry boating sneakers. (I don’t have a boat, but my brother-in-law has a beauty.) The model I chose is more like a tennis sneaker than the typical leather boat shoe, so it’s much lighter, and I found it on sale for about $40.

The fit was snug, so the support was pretty good, but it made my feet feel warm. Worse, the shoes had nonskid soles, which are necessary for boating, but tough if you’re trying to drag a foot. I’ll save them for the occasional boat trip.

Leave it to my my wife to find the best shoe

My wife has a lot of shoes, while I only have a few pairs. So, I usually ignore it when she tells me, “These shoes are great.” But I’m glad I listened when she raved about a pair of Kizik shoes and insisted I try them.

Kiziks are unique because able-bodied people can slip into these sneakers without holding them. You can just slide your foot in while pressing down on the heel. The shoe’s heel will then bounce right back up behind the heel of your foot, and you’re in.

I was able to accomplish this with my right foot while standing and balancing with my two canes. However, the left foot was another story. I couldn’t lift it high enough to slide in. But if I sat and held the shoe, I could slide my foot in using a finger to pull the heel back a little. It was a lot easier to accomplish this with Kizik shoes than with my other shoes.

Kiziks have adjustable laces for your preferred level of support without affecting their slip-on ability. They’re lightweight, and the sole slides pretty well along the floor. My pair cost about $100, and the shoes passed my wife’s important “They look good, are you going to keep them?” test.

To each his or her own

Everyone’s MS is different, so what works for me might not work for you. Some people like rocker shoes. Some like Nike runners, while others like shoes with Velcro straps. The U.K.’s MS Society even has an online discussion group about shoes. While no one has posted recently, the old stuff is still relevant.

If you’re on a shoe search, good luck. If you have a favorite shoe that helps you get to where you’re going, please let us all know in the comments below.

You’re invited to visit my personal blog at www.themswire.com.

***

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Comments

Rheanna Robinson avatar

Rheanna Robinson

Reiker is my brand! But not the Reiker shoes with memory foam sole... The original sole works great for me! I like the loafers and their boots. I need a little height in the heel (but not too much) and I prefer the boots without the lining.
I "walk" (assisted) quicker and feel so much safer. I have an indoor and outdoor pairs of the shoes!

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Thanks for the suggestion, Rheanna. I think we're going to find that people are going to have a lot of different favorites. :-).

Ed

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Rheanna,

Thanks for sharing that information and I'm sorry that it took so long for your post to appear. The three day weekend we just had slowed things down.

Ed

Reply
Allison Morgan avatar

Allison Morgan

https://billyfootwear.com/

I haven’t purchased a pair yet but fully intend to. With progression of my MS, my AFO just doesn’t provide the support I need so a KAFO is in production as we speak. Putting a shoe on that foot may be a challenge. What colour? Can’t decide…but for the first pair, basic black high tops! Can wear them with anything! 😎

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Deanne avatar

Deanne

I have tried a lot of products to help with my right drop foot and knee hypertension. I bought an ankle foot orthosis called Footflexor by Core Products. It has been a miracle. For the knee a Swedish cage. I can no longer drive because of my drop foot (dangerous gas brake pedal) so I bought this mini folding ebikes. DYU D1. I have had them for four years and when I use them I can forget about being disabled. Another new product on the market so you can walk, get cardio is the alinker. It is a combo bike/Walker. Another new escorted that folds is Doohan iLark or Doohan iTank. The benefits of the DYU ebikes is they are so small you can take them inside stores and acts as a support. I cannot live without my ebikes and the Footflexor.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Deanne,

Thanks for all of that info and I'm sorry that it took so long to publish your post. Everything was delayed by our holiday weekend.

Ed

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Lenny Eckert avatar

Lenny Eckert

I used to be a podiatrist, before my MS get bad enough that I couldn't practice any longer. The shoe's that I have worn for a very long time, have been Ferragamo or Too Boot driver's. I recently have changed to a sneaker because my walking has gotten worse and didn't want to take it out on my shoe's.
I used to only wear New Balance because they have been recommended by APMA for years but didn't find them to last very long.
I recently discovered a company called On Cloud. I purchased them several month's ago and am thrilled with them. They fit very well. You can get them with lace up or ones that have a lace but you can slide on and off. They are incredibly light weight and easy to walk in. I highly recommend them. They go for about $129.00 but you can get them on sale every now and then.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Lenny,

Thanks for the suggestion from a "pod pro." I'll check it out.

And, sorry for my delayed response. The holiday weekend backed up a lot of things, including posts here.

Ed

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Liz Cohen avatar

Liz Cohen

I wear shoes from Dr. COMFORT. They are wonderful and they have several colors. Wide opening, velcro closures that are easy to use, top is stretchy fabric, comes in XW which I need, and also has a black pair that is deep and allows for orthotics. Very light and drags easily on a smooth surface.

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Laura Veraldi avatar

Laura Veraldi

Doc Martens,they make me feel safe and comfortable.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Thanks for the suggestion, Laura.

Ed

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Charles Lumia avatar

Charles Lumia

I wear some DC sneakers because they're the flattest shoes I've found. They're in pretty rough shape now lol, hopefully people don't look at my shoes very often :D

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Charles,

I had a boss who used to judge people, in part, by the shine on their shoes. It's a good think I had talents that could overcome scuffy shoes.

Ed

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Anthony LaRiche avatar

Anthony LaRiche

My PT recommended a curling slider for my left foot "sticking" to carpet or rougher outside surfaces. The hard plastic piece has a strap that secures around your heel to hold the half-sole slider in place. It also comes in a full sole size. Of course, Amazon has a selection. I used Duluth Trading for mine. She admonishes to continue trying not to slide but lift as much as I can without falling. Hope this is a useful suggestion.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Anthony,

Thanks for sharing that info. Your PT is right about lifting, rather than sliding. I wish I could. :-)

Ed

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Gary Brown avatar

Gary Brown

Anyone have a shoe idea that is easy to fit a brace into. I have to put on my brace and then try to push it into a shoe. I need an extra depth shoe. such as SAS.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Gary,

I know a few people who buy shoes a half size larger than normal, but I don't know what they do about the size for the foot without the brace. If your brace is custom made, have you discussed this with the therapist who made it?

Ed

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Kathy Lynch avatar

Kathy Lynch

I accidentally found Orthofeet sneakers when I learned shoes made for folks with diabetes and/or plantar fasciitis have tremendous support for foot neuropathy. These sneakers come with graduated, removable innersoles so my AFO slides in nicely beneath two of the three layers I have stacked for comfort. They are laced, and have velcro tabs that lock the tied laces in place. $129 on Amazon. Can't walk without them.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Thanks for the info, Kathy and I'm sorry for the delayed response. Every little shoe hint helps. I'm really glad you found something that works so well for you.

Ed

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Jenny Maggiore avatar

Jenny Maggiore

I have a drop foot on the right and a weak right leg. I find it easier to walk in sturdy heels (not TOO high) with good ankle support. My favorite "shoes" are my Frye knee-high Western boots. The weight of the heel keeps my foot in the correct position to drive.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Thanks for the hint, Jenny and I'm sorry that it took so long for me to respond. Wow, western boots? I wouldn't be able to walk in them but I'm glad that you found something that works for you.

Ed

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Azmeh Dawood avatar

Azmeh Dawood

My saviour shoes are nae vegan. A Portuguese make. Google them. Their boots provide crucial support - wearing them foot drop is history. They’re lightweight, easy on and off, all weather adapted - I can’t praise their products enough. May they make us all fleet of foot!

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Azmeh,

Thanks for the suggestion. That's a shoe that I never heard of and I'll have to take a look.

I'm sorry that my response took so long...not very fleet of foot, I guess :-). The holiday we just had delayed a lot of things, including getting comments posted on this website.

Ed

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Elizabeth Hale avatar

Elizabeth Hale

Classic Crocs have become the best friends for my feet. To quote a older friend "it's like walking on marshmallows". And when the strap is actually used behind your heal, they fit firmly and gently. The colors, patterns and dressy finishes offer great variety. Gibits add to the fun. And I have NO pain when walking.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Elizabeth,

Thanks for the suggestion. Crocs are in my wife's collection :-). My apologizes for taking so long to respond. Our long holiday weekend slowed the process a bit.

Ed

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Bernard Gorman avatar

Bernard Gorman

Hi Ed,

This article struck with a real note with me.

I have 3 pairs of shoes, all leather soled and lace-up; they are made by a UK brand Grenson.
As the years have passed by they have adapted to my feet and become extremely comfortable.
They can also be easily resoled.

Although they have no grip, they feel safe to wear inside and out; I find I have to be a little more careful when it's wet.

An MS friend commented that my choice of shoes (leather sole) possessed a 'controlled slip' factor; I really liked that phrase and it has stuck with me since.

I have tried (and got rid of) numerous pairs of rubber grip soled shoes over the years.
I found them quite dangerous in that if my left leg dropped unexpectedly, a huge brake was suddenly applied to my walking and was capable of bringing me down.

Purchasing shoes is a complex business and a number of factors come into play for me:

- do they look good?
- do they feel safe?
- leather-soled?
- lace-up?
- do I feel confident walking in them?
- are they comfortable?
- weight of each shoe?
- Last but not least, price

In the past, I have taken a small electronic weighing scales out with me to shoe shops; this certainly got a few looks!

When purchasing my next shoes, I would probably order them online, try them indoors only and then return them if unsuitable.

I am also lucky in that our house mainly has laminate flooring, this helps massively with the controlled slip factor.

bernard

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Bernard,

As I've already told you, these are great comments and I'm sorry that it took so long to post them. Thanks for going into such great detail. I'm sure what you've written will be useful to many here.

Ed

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Heather Cushing avatar

Heather Cushing

Thank you for posting about this very important topic! My choice of shoes has become very important as my walking has worsened. My right side is very weak and I use forearm crutches and a TripleFlex strap on my right leg. I use custom made orthotics for support and they are extremely helpful! They require going up one size in shoes. Brooks sneakers work for me. During the colder months I also wear Blundstones with Superfeet inserts. The complaint I have is they are heavier and can fatigue my legs by the end of the day. I hope others will chime in on what works for them!

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Heather,

Thanks for sharing your comments. As you can see from what others have shared, there's a great difference in what we all find works best.

I'm sorry that it took a few days to get all of the responses posted. One holiday weekend can really slow the process.

Ed

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Kim Anderson avatar

Kim Anderson

Mizuno. I have two pairs. Not cheap ( sorry) but wide, stable, comfy... having PPMS, and being a bit wobbly, I like the stability. Mizuno is a sports brand.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Kim,

Thanks for sharing your suggestion and I apologize for the length of time it took your post to appear. Our holiday on Monday delayed the process.

Stability is good and, usually, you get what you pay for :-).

Ed

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Miss Mary avatar

Miss Mary

Hello, yes, shoes are very important when u need to get youself to where you want to go comfortably. I used to be able to wear them thong type sandals. You know, the ones that were plastic & would have a thong shape look, & to keep them on your feet, you would slip them in-between your big toe & your 2nd toe. I also remember the clicking noise they would make as the back of the shoe would snap back into place as you walked. However, when I was first struck by MS, I found myself looking for a different style of shoes. I needed something that would stay on my feet without me having to curl my toes. Loafers are very comfortable, but I needed something that would stay in place, on my feet. I also prefer a shoe that had traction, so I wouldn't slip & fall down. There we're a couple times though, that my shoes stuck too aggressively & I still lost my balance & I found myself going on unsuspecting trips:-( Years ago, when I had bad equilibrium, I found a brand of sandals that was comfortable & stayed put. I think the brand was Apache. It was the kind of sandal that had a very wide strap in the front & one in the back to keep the foot from slipping out. I can't remember for sure if that was it's name? Anyway, currently with experimentation, I found that I like Sketchers. I feel like I have more balance. Not to mention, when I'm walking with Sketchers on, my gait is much better, so It an able to walk with a faster stride.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Miss Mary,

Thanks for sharing your experience. If you read through the other comments you'll see that the aggressive stick that you mention is a reason that some others have avoided rubber soles.

I've tried Sketchers and should have included them in what I wrote. They also seem to provide a good combination of light weight plus support at a reasonable price.

Ed

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Mary avatar

Mary

I switched to certain styles of Munro or Clarke or lace up sneakers.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Mary,

Thanks for adding your suggestions to the list.

Ed

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Alison Hibberd avatar

Alison Hibberd

Oh wow thanks Ed !!
You have verbalised my thoughts exactly !I thought I was alone in needing slidy sales... the exact opposite to quote normal people.
I too have suffered from foot drop for many years and also use a FES.
Shoes , especially sandals are a nightmare being less supportive and sling back
I like sunshine as much as everyone but once the temperature climbs I am confined to my a/c home alone.
I look forward to the autumn mists and comfortable support of my lovely knee length boots with glee 😄
I only pray that I will be able to use my rollator for a good while yet.
All the best, Alison

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Alison,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It's interesting to read through the choices we're all making and they're really quite different. I'll even wear some heavy Timberland work boots if I'm horseback riding. But, that's a different column. :-).

Here's hoping you and your rollator will be rolling for a long time to come.

Ed

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Jack Grunberg avatar

Jack Grunberg

I'm a male and diagnosed in 1991 and from SPMS to now with PPMS I have been using zero drop minimal barefoot shoes for over 10 years. The many shoes I've worn are from Vivobarfoot an American/UK company started by the grandson of the Clarkes shoe founder. Almost like wearing puncture resistant socks. Most have a smooth sole bottoms, all are very light and flexible but not much support or cushioning. They are a bit pricey and they may take time getting used to, so they may not be for everyone. They come in many great styles for men and women. For sport or dress on pavement (smooth tread) and trail or snow (small tread). Lots of fun! Happy trails, Jack

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Jack,

Thanks for your suggestion. Lots of folks have chimed in and we now certainly have a wide selection from which to choose.

Ed

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