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Best Shoes for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Hypermobility

Updated On:
April 2024
by
David Harris

Why are shoes important for hypermobile feet?

Understanding the Implications of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome on Foot Health

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and hypermobility present unique challenges to foot health. Given that the foot is a complex structure with 26 bones, over 30 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments, it's crucial for individuals with these conditions to pay particular attention to their footwear. The stresses experienced by the feet during activities like walking and running are significantly higher in individuals with EDS due to the altered joint function and increased strain on the soft tissues.

Unique Foot Characteristics in EDS

  • Foot Structure Variability: People with hypermobile EDS often have low-arched or flat feet, although this is not universally the case.
  • Increased Foot Problems: Compared to the general population, individuals with hypermobile EDS often experience more severe and frequent foot issues, including lower limb pain and disability.

The Importance of Proper Footwear in EDS

Stability is a crucial element in treating connective tissue issues associated with EDS. Stability or motion control shoes are necessary to maintain proper arch and neutral stability, which is especially important as hypermobile patients typically have normal arches that collapse, leading to misalignment of the ankle and other joints. Footwear that provides stability or motion control, especially built into the heel to prevent the ankle from turning outward, is essential

Types of shoes for hypermobile feet

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and Hypermobility are conditions that affect the connective tissues in the body, causing joint pain, instability, and fatigue. For those living with these conditions, finding the right shoes can be a challenge. The right footwear can provide support and stability, reducing pain and discomfort. In this article, we will discuss the best shoes for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Hypermobility.

Adaptive Footwear

Adaptive footwear is designed specifically for individuals with physical disabilities or conditions that affect their mobility. These shoes are often adjustable, with features such as velcro straps or elastic laces, making them easier to put on and take off. They also provide extra support and cushioning, which can be beneficial for those with EDS and Hypermobility. Some popular brands that offer adaptive footwear include Propet, Orthofeet, and Drew Shoes.

Orthopedic Shoes

Orthopedic shoes are designed to provide support and correct any foot abnormalities. They are often recommended for individuals with EDS and Hypermobility as they can help with joint stability and reduce pain. These shoes have features such as arch support, cushioned soles, and wide toe boxes to accommodate any foot deformities. Some popular brands that offer orthopedic shoes include New Balance, Brooks, and Hoka One One.

Custom Orthotics

For individuals with severe EDS or Hypermobility, custom orthotics may be necessary. These are specially made shoe inserts that are designed to provide support and correct any foot abnormalities. They are made based on the individual's foot shape and can help with joint stability and reduce pain. Custom orthotics can be expensive, but they can make a significant difference in the comfort and mobility of those with EDS and Hypermobility.

Corrective Shoes

Corrective shoes are designed to correct any foot abnormalities and provide support and stability. They are often recommended for individuals with EDS and Hypermobility as they can help with joint pain and instability. These shoes have features such as arch support, cushioned soles, and rigid soles to prevent overpronation. Some popular brands that offer corrective shoes include Vionic, Aetrex, and Dansko.

Athletic Shoes for hypermobile feet

For those with EDS and Hypermobility who lead an active lifestyle, finding the right athletic shoes is crucial. These shoes should provide support and stability while also being lightweight and flexible. Look for shoes with features such as arch support, cushioned soles, and a wide toe box. Some popular brands that offer athletic shoes for EDS and Hypermobility include Asics, Saucony, and Altra. Many people also find that the thick, chunky style of On Cloud and Hoka shoes is very helpful as well.

Hiking Boots for hypermobile hikers

Hiking is a very popular, low impact exercise that many people with EDS enjoy. These days, trail running shoes and other ultra light hiking shoes are popular, but studier shoes may be much more helpful for the hypermobile hiker. Typically, the lightest shoes are also the most expensive, whereas the cheaper shoes are much heavier and often with a sturdy sole. Despite the clunkiness of a heaivier hiking boot, the inflexible sole supports my feet a lot more effectively. Don't forget to to look for a boot that laces higher up the leg to help prevent sprained ankles.

Leather Boots for hypermobile ankles

Many people with EDS like to wear leather boots. With 90s fashion returning to the forefront, Doc Martin's have become popular. The ankle high lace up boots can be very helpful for preventing a rolled ankle, and Doc Martin's have a much softer sole than most leather boots. Other options like Red Wings and other American made leather boots tend to be made with stiff, thick leather compared to than European leather boots which favor thinner and more supple leather material. Overtime, well made leather boots with leather soles tend to mold to your feet which provides additional support and comfort, but they certainly arent as soft as Doc Martin's or Athletic Shoes. I personally prefer  Red Wing boots for their sturdiness around the ankles, but on days when I need to walk around a lot, I often wish there was more cushion.

House Slippers for EDS

House shoes aren't very common in the United States, but in Asia and many other regions around the world they are very popular. In Germany for example, shoes like Birkenstocks are very common for wearing around the house or the garden. Birkenstocks, Mephisto shoes, and cheaper foam sandle alternatives are great for supporting your arches around the house. For those of us who have trouble with proprioception and tend to bump into things, these house shoes can help to protect your toes from bumping into furniture. It's especially useufl if you tend to get vertigo from POTS or if you often wake up to go to the bathroom because in the dark with limited blood flow to the brain, it's even easier to stub your toes. My preference is Birkenstocks because they fit my feet so well, but I have friends who prefer Mephisto sandals. Lately, I've been trying a Birkenstock style shoe from Amazon that is made with foam instead of cork and leather, and I've found them to be just as comfortable and much cheaper.

So which shoes are the best for EDS?

Finding the right shoes for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Hypermobility can make a significant difference in the comfort and mobility of those living with these conditions. It is helpful to look for shoes that provide support, stability, and cushioning. Adaptive footwear, orthopedic shoes, custom orthotics, corrective shoes, and athletic shoes are all great options for individuals with EDS and Hypermobility. It is also important to consult with a podiatrist or physical therapist for personalized recommendations. With the right shoes, individuals with EDS and Hypermobility can continue to lead an active and comfortable lifestyle.

Sources:

  1. Tsai, C.-C., et al. (2022). Joint Hypermobility and Preschool-Age Flexible Flatfoot. Medicine (Baltimore), 101(31), e29608. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000029608. Accessed from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9351925/.
  2. Chopra, P., et al. (2017). Pain Management in the Ehlers–Danlos Syndromes. Am J Med Genet Part C, 175(1), 212-219. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.c.31554.
  3. Engelbert, R. H., et al. (2017). Evidence-Based Rationale for Physical Therapy in Joint Hypermobility Syndrome/Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Am J Med Genet Part C, 175(1), 158-167. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.c.31545.
  4. "Best Shoes for Hypermobility and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome." Hypermobility Clinic. Accessed from https://hypermobilityclinic.org/best-shoes-for-hypermobile-ehlers-danlos-syndrome/.
  5. "Flat Feet and Comfortable Shoes: Best Arch Support." Ehlers Danlos News. Accessed from https://ehlersdanlosnews.com/columns/flat-feet-comfortable-shoes-arch-support/.
  6. "Footcare in Hypermobility Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome." Ehlers-Danlos Society. Accessed from https://www.ehlers-danlos.org/information/footcare-in-hypermobile-ehlers-danlos-syndrome/.

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