Selecting the right shoes is not all that easy for some people, but what if you have a handicap? Advanced osteoarthritis, ankylosis, artificial joints or a prosthesis are just a few examples. Prostheses for example are high-tech constructs. They are individually adapted and meanwhile make a normal gait pattern possible. Assuming the shoes are tailored to the prosthesis. This applies correspondingly when one is affected by any of the aforementioned handicaps. Speciality shoes for these fields of application are intended to improve safety, and ought to be both functional and comfortable when walking and standing. This improves mobility.
Shoes have to fit properly whether one has a handicap or not. For speciality shoes, it is therefore especially important that they can be equipped with insoles in order to compensate for deficits. Here attention must be paid to ensuring that wearer comfort is not negatively affected by the insoles. The right length of the shoe is important as well. Frequently shoes are purchased in too big a size because they are not wide enough. This can be problematic since shoes that are too long increase risks such as spraining, slipping or stumbling. An optimal fit also depends on using the right last in the production process. The last should be based on the natural foot shape so the shoes do not pinch and are neither too big nor too small. By the way, manufacturers of prosthetic feet also use the last for orientation.
A controlled rollover is important for a harmonious gait pattern. This can for example be accomplished with a metatarsus support and a wider sole.
Good, effective shock absorption is one of the key features of a speciality shoe. This can be readily implemented with a slanted heel section with integrated damping element. Offsetting the roll for the ball of the foot slightly to the rear with a pronounced toe pitch not only supports the rollover but also reduces the risk of stumbling. The toe pitch is the distance between the toe-cap and floor when the shoe is standing on a level surface.
While one normally feels small irregularities or slippery surfaces while walking, this perception is restricted with a prosthetic leg. Technical assistance by the shoe is required here so the foot can step down safely. The sole should therefore have a special tread. Ideally its material composition can already improve the slip resistance and ensure the required grip on smooth, wet surfaces. This by the way is a characteristic appreciated by anyone with less than 100% walking performance.
Mobility compared to the healthy foot may be limited depending on the handicap. Personal mobility as such may also be less than optimal, so this can be compensated by speciality shoes. They should therefore be designed so they are easy and comfortable to put on and take off. A large opening to put the shoe on, a loop on the tongue or also a one-hand closure make it much easier to put on and take off. If the shoe is particularly lightweight, this is also advantageous, because the centrifugal forces on swing-through are higher the more a shoe weighs. A weight of less than 500 grams is ideal (for size 42).
The shoe needs to be made of high quality materials. These include vegetable tanned leather with sufficient water vapour permeability and breathable textiles that guarantee a balanced climate inside the shoe as well as comfortable wearing behaviour, even with continuous use. After all, your feet should simply feel comfortable. So pay attention to breathable materials.
All of the aforementioned characteristics of a speciality shoe can contribute to relieving strain on the joints and back. That reduces strain on the entire musculoskeletal system and helps prevent back pain. After all, the right shoe helps prevent non-physiological movements.