Wear Orthotics? The Choices Are Improving

22 Oct

The “Chelsea” pump from footsmart.com. Photo from Oct. 2012 Footsmart catalog.

“Abby” shoes by Alegria.

“These inserts. They have to fit in my shoes,”  we might have explained 25-30 years ago, when the term “orthotics” produced blank, zombie-like stares on the faces of sales associates. The styles of shoes that accommodated orthotics back then were, well, very limited. Think “sensible” shoes that nurses might have worn when they were all female and wore white dresses and hats for uniforms.

Nowadays, female nurses don’t wear those shoes…and we don’t have to, either. While orthotics will, by medical necessity, restrict us to low-heeled shoes with roomy toe boxes, we have more selections now. Here are a few places to shop for these cuter styles:

Alegria(alegria.com and stores)

Featuring painted or plain patent-leather slip-ons, lace-ups, and Mary Janes with rocker bottoms, Alegria shoes are head-turners.The whimsical painting–it could be flowers, it could be turtles–removes shoes from the realm of practicality and turns them into works of art. Nevertheless, the shoes can be worn with your orthotics and include removable footbeds. Prices run from $49.99 on sale to about $129.99.  A word of warning: Alegrias are cut wide and tend to run large.You may need a heel liner or insert even if they fit your foot well everywhere else. They are worth it if they do fit. Great way to jazz up any outfit!

Footsmart (footsmart.com)

The folks at footsmart.com have done their homework and taken the guesswork out of shopping. They label shoes “orthotic friendly” (what a blessing!) and offer attractive styles as well–even a low-heeled pump, the “Chelsea,” that accommodates orthotics. If you’re thumbing through the catalog, have patience: the orthotic-friendly shoes come later. Prices range from $79.99-$129.99. Footsmart’s shoes are durable and comfortable. I save up for a pair each year.

Zappos (zappos.com)

If you haven’t shopped at Zappos, for shoes or other items, you’re in for a treat! Although you may find yourself distracted by all the site has to offer, searching for “orthotic friendly” shoes will bring up a substantial list. Featured are athletic shoes of all styles and colors as well as a couple of unexpected nonathletic styles. Price points vary widely; you have to check it out to see.

A Caveat

Some of these shoes are high-priced for those of us who have to budget for medications, doctor visits, and assistive devices. Living on disability checks limits fashion choices as well. For this reason, in the next post I will provide info on lower-priced shoes that are still orthotic-friendly. Come on back!

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