Non-Slip Shoes: Follow These Tips to Reduce Fall Risk

The shoes that you wear both around the house and for exercise can help you reduce your risk for fall. Follow the below tips on how to best select footwear based on your activity and stride.

Man tying his shoes before exercising

The type of shoe you select, both for exercise and for daily wear, can help reduce your fall risk.

Photo: © Nastasic| Getty Images

At times, it’s not the obstacles or surface or lighting, but rather the shoes you are wearing around the house or while exercising that raise fall risk. The Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and others offer tips for choosing the best everyday non-slip shoes, as well as shoes for walking and exercising.

Tips for Everyday Non-Slip Shoes (or Anyone!)

  • Have your feet measured each time you buy shoes. Foot size can change.
  • Ask your doctor, a physical therapist, or a podiatrist about the best type of shoe for your condition and your feet.
  •  Choose properly fitting, sturdy shoes with firm, non-skid soles.
  • Avoid shoes with extra-thick soles. Choose lace-up shoes instead of slip-ons, and keep the laces tied.
  • If you have trouble tying laces, select footwear with fabric fasteners.
  •  If you are a woman who can’t find shoes that are wide enough, try men’s shoes
  •  Avoid high heels.
  • Don’t walk in your stocking feet.

Tips for Exercise/Walking Shoes

  • Replace workout shoes every five to six months or 400-600 miles.
  • Get refitted every year.
  • When trying out new shoes, wear the same kind of socks you will wear when exercising.
  • Shop in the evening when feet tend to be larger.
  • When standing, your shoe should have a half-inch gap between the longest toe and the shoe’s toe box.
  • Try the shoes out in the store before purchasing them.
  • Wear your new shoes around the house before wearing them for workouts.

Pronation, Supination

The way your foot moves after it strikes the ground is called pronation, and your specific type of pronation should influence the kind of shoes you wear.

When a person overpronates, the foot rolls excessively inward, which can lead to muscle strains in the legs and feet. Most people who overpronate have low arches. If you are in this category, look for stability or motion-control shoes that are less flexible, have a thicker heel, and help decrease overpronation.

Supination (also called underpronation) means that the feet roll outward when running or walking. People who supinate may have high arches and need shoes with extra cushioning to help absorb the impact when the foot strikes the ground.

Normal pronation, the most common foot-ankle movement, means that the foot rotates slightly, not excessively, inward. If that describes your foot movement while walking or exercising, look for stability shoes that are more flexible than motion control shoes, but still provide adequate support.

Socks and Safety

Some studies have shown an association between falls and walking barefoot or in socks. A small study published in the January 2013 issue of Gait and Posture found that older adults walking in socks had a more cautious gait, a slower speed, a shortened stride, and reduced center of mass velocity while walking.

Finally, a study cited in the April 3, 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association showed a lower rate of falls in people with disabling foot pain who 1) wore customized orthotics, 2) had a footwear review, 3) performed foot and ankle exercises, and 4) received fall prevention education. While the findings might seemed to have been predictable, the study does illustrate that preventing falls requires a multi-faceted approach.

For more information about reducing your fall risk, purchase Easy Exercises for Balance and Mobility from

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Jim Brown, PhD

As a former college professor of health education, Jim Brown brings a unique perspective to health and medical writing. He has authored 14 books on health, medicine, fitness, and sports. … Read More

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