Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Shoes for People With Disabilities and Orthotics Wearers

Fitflop, Clarks Birkenstock, Hotter, Orthopedic, disabled, shoes, orthotics
Clockwise: Hotter 'Daisy' Shoes in Coral, Clarks 'Un Karely Sun' Sandals in Yellow Nubuck, Birkenstock 'Santa Ana' Nubuck Leather Shoes in Black, Fitflop 'Skandi' Waterproof Ankle Boots. 

Over my lifetime I have worn a number of different orthotics/leg braces and finding shoes has always been a stressful experience. To say 'limited options' is an understatement. Finding a pair takes a lot of research, trying on, ordering shoes off the slight chance they might fit and then sending back immediately. Even then I usually come up empty handed (or footed?). It can be hard to give or take advice on finding shoes to fit when you are wearing orthotics or leg braces. There are so many different kinds, everyones feet are different, we all have different needs/priorities not to mention actually liking the look of what you are wearing.

Whilst I can't say that I have a great deal of luck in finding shoes, I sure do have a lot of experience. So for anyone who is struggling here are a few places where your chances of finding something will at least be optimised! 


Fitflop are the main place I go to buy shoes and have for years. Designed to be ergonomic without sacrificing aesthetic, I have consistently found they are the best shoes for me. The cushioning impact of the Microwobble board soles has really helped my joints over the years, as well as improving my gait a little. Many of the styles have had removable insoles giving a little more space for any inserts or orthotics. Whilst not perfect, they have felt like the most 'normal' shoes I have ever been able to wear. Whilst I try to reject the ableist associations of specialist shoes being 'frumpy' it is still frustrating to be a young women unable to engage in this aspect of fashion in the same way as able bodied people. Whilst there styles are getting more diverse and sadly over the years I have had less luck finding suitable shoes, it is still one of the better companies for finding more accessible shoes. They can be a little on the pricier side generally (although not in comparison to many specialist shoe brands) but they always seem to have a sale on and offer pretty good discounts for first time shoppers. This month they are also donating 10% of the purchase price of their shoes to the charity Beauty Banks, who work to eliminate hygiene poverty.  

Hotter shoes are another company that offer a wide range of shoes suitable for people who struggle to find suitable footwear. They offer a wide range of fits and styles and the staff in their shops are very helpful. Not all of their options are for me but thats true of any brand! If you have a dive into their website you can find some really nice options that are in line with current highstreet trends and they offer standard, wide and slim fit on their shoes which is really helpful! When looking at the product details section on a selected shoe it also tells you if they have a removable insole which is something I find particularly useful! 

Clarks have been a brand I have worn since I was a child and were always one of the few place I could find shoes. For a long time my association with Clarks and school shoes (just me?) made me not really engage with them but in recent years I have noticed they make some really good contemporary style. Clarks has a range of shoes called Ortholite, that are designed with a cushioned footbed (great for anyone with bad joints or walking triggered pain conditions) and their website also lists whether they have removable insoles. 

Birkenstocks are famous for their classic two strap sandals and how comfortable they are, with a particular resurgence in recent years. I haven't has much luck with their classic style personally but they also do a number of different styles which feature their cork-latex footbed/sole. Many of their shoes also feature a removable footbed and as the brand is focussed on comfort can be a good place to look for shoes suitable for orthotics wearers. 

Have you tried any of these brands or have any recommendations of your own?
Let me know in the comments!!


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