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Stiffer Soles Could Be the Answer to Saving Feet from Diabetes-Related Injury

Diabetic footwear manufacturers take note, a recent study from Springer suggests that the correct footwear or inner sole can relieve pressure from Type 2 Diabetes patients’ feet.

Footwear, specifically sole stiffness, can play a major role in health according to Springer’s study. Earlier research showed that stiffness of materials used to cushion a diabetic’s feet influenced how well the patient responds to treatment.

Currently doctors hold no specific range of cushion needed for each patient to ensure the proper pressure support, leaving professionals to use their own judgement and evidence when making suggestions.

The team at Staffordshire University in the UK involved with the study, with the help of collaborators, created a range of polyurethane (BPU) cushioning materials, forming materials with the same mechanical qualities but with varying stiffness. The team then used a 3-D printed model of a heel and the feet of ten healthy volunteers to measure characteristics and cushioning properties of the insole materials being tested.

The study found that a person’s body mass index (BMI) and weight affect the types of cushioning materials they need in shoes.

“Using different material to minimize pressure could further enhance the offloading capacity of therapeutic footwear and orthoses, as long as it doesn’t have a detrimental effect on gait and postural balance,” said Panagiotis Chatzistergos, researcher at Staffordshire University.

The results said that optimizing the stiffness of cushioning materials can reduce pressure during standing by at least 16 percent and walking by 19 percent.

“We strongly believe that this study will influence the material selection process for any prescription footwear,” said Nachiappan Chockalingam, leader of the clinical biomechanics team at Staffordshire University.