The Best Shoes For Shuffling Gait (& Reduce the Chance of a Fall)

Walking with a shuffling gait increases fall chances dramatically. To reduce the chance of a fall, look for shoes with a little to no heel, thin soles with slip-resistant tread, and that also support the ankles.

senior man with shuffling gait for shopping for shoes
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If you’re over the age of 65, you have a 1 in 3 chance of falling this year. Every 14 seconds, someone in your age bracket is in the ER for fall treatment, and seniors or the elderly die every half an hour from their fall-related injury. Even those that survive face steeper medical bills, fear of moving around, depression, and isolation. Choosing the right shoes for seniors can make a big impact.

What Is Shuffling Gait?

As so many in the country are getting older, more and more people are living into extended years of cognitive decline at various rates of speed. Parkinson’s and many forms of dementia have many symptoms, one of which is shuffling gait.

This video discusses the causes of shuffling gait (Parkinsonian gait) with a demonstration:

A shuffling gait is when someone looks like they might be dragging their feet while they walk, as steps might also be shorter strides then they used to be. Reduced arm movement is also common.

The risks here should be obvious, as anyone with a shuffling gait is at higher risk of falling down. Fortunately, you can shop for the best shoes for shuffling gait to help yourself or a loved one out.

ALSO READ: Best Stabilizing Utensils for Parkinson’s

What Shoe Features Are Important for a Shuffling Gait?

Buying the right shoes is crucial. Many seniors might think it’s better to switch to slippers or just go barefoot, but both are statistically almost twice as likely to lead to falls.

So, what should you look for in a great shoe for shuffling gait? The Vestibular Disorders Association offers this advice:

  • Heel Height – An inch or less. Higher heels negatively impact gait.
  • Sole Hardness – Thin, hard soles require less muscle activity to keep balance in check and positional awareness as compared to soft soles or thick hard soles.
  • High VS Low Top – Research is inconclusive for seniors at the time of writing, although higher collars support ankle joints and stability in younger athletes.
  • Slip-Resistance – Heel tread is ideal for the reduction of trips and slips. Rubber heels with bevels of 10 degrees are best. Having said that, some with gait might find too much friction/traction worsens their gait, as their feet seem to stick to the ground beneath them.
  • Insoles – Some shoes have a technology known as BalancePro. These raised-edge insoles reduce fall rates by almost half.

Top 7 Shoes For The Elderly And Seniors With Shuffling Gait

Now that you know what to look for in the best shoes for shuffling gait, it’s time to cover 7 specific pairs that you should consider for yourself or someone that you love.

Propet Wash N Wear Slip Ons (Men & Women)

This walking shoe provides high-level physical support but it’s also quite simple to maintain. The upper is made of firm leather for support but it’s also durable to provide your feet support longer than many other shoes. The midsole unit is light in weight and EVA, minimizing leg and foot fatigue, helping you keep your balance longer into the day with your grandkids. The upper is quilted and washable, so water exposure doesn’t ruin it.

The internal heel counter is firmly inserted into the rear of the shoe to further stabilize every step you take. Padding reduces pressure and upper-foot rubbing, while a neoprene collar can flex and stretch. That means you have an easier time putting it on, as well as more time keeping it on.

Pros:

  • Interior heel counter
  • Upper is leather
  • Collar is padded neoprene
  • Midsole is EVA
  • Insole is removable

Cons:

  • Toe box is narrow
  • Sizes tend to run a bit small

Hush Puppies Men’s Gil Slip Ons

This shoe isn’t going to catch many eyes, but it will give you or someone you love a multitude of comfort and safety features that mean a far better quality of life. A firm leather upper provides support to not only the wearer’s foot, but is also a shoe that supports the ankles. This prevents rolling in either case. The outsole isn’t just made from slip-resistant substances, but also has embedded slip-resistant grooves throughout.

These grooves also enhance traction, support, and shock-absorption, whereas the midsole minimizes fatigue in the feet and legs thanks to very light yet very sturdy cushioning.

Pros:

  • Outsole is Rubberlon
  • Midsole uses ZeroG Elon technology
  • Upper is leather Sole is synthetic
  • EVA footbed is removable
  • Strap closure is velcro

Cons:

  • Insole is a bit thin
  • Shoe runs a tad narrow

Hush Puppies Power Walker II (Women’s)

By this point in life, you’ve probably chosen a million daily outfits. Fortunately, this particular shoe comes in lots of different neutral colors so you can find one that suits most, if not all, of your wardrobe. Fortunately, this shoe fits your own feet as well as it does the clothes in your closet.

Its leather upper is more sturdy than most other shoes, providing firm levels of support. The insole is removable and it has Drilex moisture-wicking lining. There are also upper perforations for more airflow to keep feet dry while minimizing blisters and foul smells.

These shoes have contouring in the sole, thanks to Hush Puppies Bounce Technology, offering great shock-absorption, better bounce back, and less physical fatigue or discomfort.

Pros:

  • Perforations for ventilation
  • Bounce tech
  • Insole is removable
  • Sole is contoured
  • Upper is made of leather
  • Collar and tongue are padded

Cons:

  • Sole attachment could be better
  • Arch support is lacking

Aravon Clarissa Sandal

Anyone who says getting older means having to wear unsightly and hefty shoes just isn’t right. While many manufacturers that focus on style overlook features like support or shock absorption, there are some who still market to consumers of all ages wanting a balance between style and support.

Aravon’s Clarissa is a fisherman-style sandal featuring a proper fit through a midfoot that is open, a toe section that’s partly closed, and a secure strap encasing both the ankle and heel. Pair this with numerous outfits, thanks to the combination of available darker and conservative color leathers.

The removable footbed is easily cleaned every several months for great foot care and health, or you can put custom orthotics in. Genuine leather helps this shoe adapt completely to the wearer’s foot over time, and thin-strap construction means even anyone with bunions will find it increasingly comfortable over time.

Pros:

  • Authentic leather upper
  • Lining is breathable
  • Footbed is EVA and cork
  • Heel is 1.5″
  • Strap is hook and loop

Cons:

  • Strap can be stiffNot really suitable for wider feet

Skechers Performance Go Walk (Men & Women)

If you’re not up with all the latest technology, it’s easy to get this name confused with Amazon’s reading tablets for e-books, but they’re not really related. This shoe also doesn’t have a strong relationship with seams since there aren’t many of them at all in the construction. The construction does feature a mesh upper with light padding and breathability, giving you some cushion from any light bumps while also keeping things dry and cool to avoid stench and blisters.

This shoe uses Skechers’ 5GEN midsole unit, which is a full-length unit of foam layered in between the outsole and insole, to give you responsive cushioning. The insole uses Skechers’ Goga Max footbed for the insole, which also features responsive foam material for more comfort and balance.

Pros:

  • Footbed is Goga Max
  • Midsole is 5GEN
  • Upper is padded mesh
  • Wider sizes are available
  • Sole is rubber

Cons:

  • Arch support is a bit poor
  • Shoe can develop unpleasant odors

Orthofeet Avery Loafer (Men)

Orthofeet Avery Loafer

This is a wonderful shoe for anyone that has sensitive feet, in particular, due to rheumatoid arthritis, neuropathy, and diabetes, which are all common enough ailments among the older generations. The Avery also works well for many kinds of pain, including back, arch, knee, metatarsal, heel, and foot.

The Avery is made from leather, and it’s supportive and firm from end to end. A rocker profile in the sole helps users walk with natural foot motions to minimize shock in every footstrike. The sole is also light in weight and provides air cushioning, which adds enough spring to your step to make you think you’re actually winding the clock back a bit. Biomechanical engineering alleviates joint stress, which helps you improve your stability.

Pros:

  • Toe is rounded
  • Extra widths are available
  • Upper is leather
  • Wider toe box
  • Nonbinding
  • Sole is rubber
  • Orthotic and arch support is strong
  • Ortho-cushioning system

Cons:

  • Not really a fashion statement

Saucony Echelon 7 Running Shoes

If you’re still into road running, then you certainly need to keep your balance. Fortunately, your feet stay locked down in these shoes, thanks to mesh uppers and an exterior heel counter. These shoes provide support for strides ranging from neutral to underpronated, thanks to a plush collar and tongue, Tri-Flex outsole, countoured footbeds, and in-built sockliner.

The upper of this shoe is mesh, which not only cools down your feet with enhanced airflow, but also lets water drain out.

Pros:

  • Collar and tongue are plush
  • Sockliner is in-built
  • Footbed is FORMFIT
  • Uppers are mesh
  • Outsole is Tri-Flex
  • Effective for those with underpronated strides

Cons:

  • Sizes tend to run a bit large

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

You might not be as bouncy or spry as you were in your younger years. Even if you lose a step or shuffle while you walk, that doesn’t mean you have to be at risk of falling. These 7 shoes to restore your quality of life and safety, now that you know what to look for in the best shoes for shuffling gait.

About Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS® 307 Articles
Assistive Technology Professional, Custom Wheelchair Specialist, Medical Equipment Guru, Dad and Grandfather
I am a lucky dad to four awesome daughters and grandfather to three pretty terrific grandkids. When not working as a custom wheelchair specialist at a regional home medical equipment company, I enjoy early morning runs and occasional kayak trips. I am also a self-admitted nerd who loves anything from the 1980's. Learn More

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