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Fall Prevention: Through Proper Footwear and Foot Care

By: Dr. Jillian Irwin, DPM Originally published in January 2022 Issue of Manhasset Living


More than 32,000 older adults died from falls in 2018. That is the equivalent of 88 older adults every day! Winter weather can lead to more falls due to wet and icy conditions outside, so

durable boots with thick rubber soles with good traction are recommended. However, more than half of all falls take place in the home!


What are the best shoes for falls prevention?


The best shoes for one patient may be the worst shoes for the next patient. In the home, I recommend shoes or slippers with soles which are soft, thin and malleable for fall prevention. These same types of shoes are often not advised for walking outdoors or recommended for athletic patients and those with foot pain. However, a patient who has had a history of falls will benefit from an increase in "proprioception." This refers to your body's ability to sense its position and motion. Shoes with thick soles reduce your body's ability to feel the floor below you and could lead to a fall in someone who is prone to falls.


Your shoes may be losing their "grip" if you've been wearing them for more than three months. Inspect the bottom of your shoes before putting them on. If the soles are worn down, they can cause you to slide and fall down. If you wear the same shoes or sneakers every day, they should be replaced every six months.


What can a podiatrist do to help with fall prevention?


Podiatrist using Insert

My primary intervention for a patient who may have a risk of falls is a risk assessment. My first series of questions are, "Have you ever had a fall?" or "Do you feel off-balance?" or "Do you feel at risk for a fall?" If the answer is yes to any of those questions, a serious conversation about preventative treatment will follow.


Intervention may or may not include:

  • Referral to a physical therapist or occupational therapist - at home or in their office

  • Change in the type of shoes worn

  • Changing to a new shoe

  • Adding use of a brace or orthotic insert

  • Improved nutrition or assessment by a nutritionist

  • Adjustment to medications by your primary care doctor (or other specialist)

  • Adding an assistive device such as a cane or walker


Where can I learn more about fall prevention?



North Shore Podiatry offers complete foot care for all ages.


North Shore Podiatry Logo

View Locations and schedule appointment: https://www.northshorepodiatrypc.com/locations



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