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8 Best Shoes for Shuffling Gait

Medical information provided by Dr. Josh White DPM - Written by OrthoFeet Team on Nov 28 2023

A shuffling gait is a gait type characterized by dragging the feet along the ground, or not fully lifting them.

There are many causes of shuffling gait patterns. Most commonly, these patterns are associated with health conditions that affect the nervous system, joints, or muscles, like peripheral neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease, or cerebral palsy

However, shuffling gait can also occur in otherwise healthy people of any age, characterized by taking abnormally short steps. The causes can include issues with balance, hip joint capsule stiffness or pain, tight hip muscles, or a combination of these factors.

Drop foot, a condition characterized by the difficulty or inability to lift the front of the foot while taking a step, is another contributor to the development of a shuffling gait. With drop foot, the usual smoothness of the gait is disrupted, forcing people to compensate by altering their walking pattern. This alteration often leads to the feet being lifted only minimally off the ground, creating a distinctive sliding movement.

In addition, a shuffling gait may naturally develop with age and is associated with an increased risk of falls, especially among older adults.

Investing in shoes specifically designed to address the challenges of shuffling gait is essential for promoting stability, reducing the likelihood of accidents and improving walking.

What are the best shoes for gait imbalance?

Best sneakers for shuffling gait

Women’s Kita | Men’s Yari

Yari White

Why you’ll love it

  • Slip-resistant soles with mild rocker design improve gait and stability
  • Water repellant, breathable uppers adapt to the distinct contours of your feet

Specs

  • Sizes: women 5-12; men 7-14
  • Widths: women Standard (B) - Extra Wide (2E) | men Standard (D) - Extra Wide (4E)
  • Upper materials: stretch knit
  • Available colors: Kita - blue, gray, black/white, black/black, rose, white | Yari - blue, white, gray, black

 

The Yari and Kita sneakers are structured with an innovative hands-free feature, eliminating the need for traditional lace tying and simplifying the process of putting on and taking off shoes. A hidden spring mechanism at the back compresses when you slip your feet into the shoe, and bounces back to securely accommodate your feet.

If you’re dealing with mobility issues or, like most of us, simply leading a fast paced life, this is the perfect fast and hassle-free solution.

When you have a shuffling gait, maintaining balance and stability is of utmost importance. This need is addressed by these sneakers’ slip-resistant outsoles, which provide the necessary support and allow users to carry out daily activities with increased confidence on any surface.

The stretch knit water repellant upper of the sneakers ensures a perfect fit that molds to the unique shape of your feet with cozy comfort and unwavering support. The breathable material contributes to the overall comfort, keeping feet fresh and cool even during extended periods.

Moreover, the sneakers are equipped with professionally cushioned and ergonomic removable orthotic insoles, featuring anatomical arch support. This design helps absorb shock with each step, effectively reducing the impact on the feet and legs. The ergonomic soles, constructed with a mild rocker design and minimal heel-to-toe drop, make walking easier and alleviate strain on the forefoot.

Finally, the sneakers offer extra depth, wider widths and a removable footbed, accommodating AFOs or other devices for conditions such as foot drop.

Feedback from users

Kita: Super Shoes

“These shoes are amazing! When I put them on I did not want to take them off! The width, the toe box and the ease of putting them on is incredible. Thank you so much for creating them for those of us that have foot issues and have struggled for so long trying to find a shoe that fits perfectly.”

Melissa Overton

Yari: Surprisingly perfect

“These felt comfortable from the first day. They are easy to put on, very supportive, and extra roomy in the toe box. Thank you!”

Mike DeRubis

 

Best boots for shuffling gait

Women’s Dakota | Men’s Ridgewood

Dakota Blue

Why you’ll like it

  • The higher collars support ankle joints and stability
  • Waterproof membrane that also releases moisture maintains foot health

Specifications

  • Sizes: women 5-12; men 7-14
  • Widths: women Standard (B) - Extra Wide (2E); men Standard (D) - Extra Wide (4E)
  • Upper materials: leather

 

The rubber lug outsole of the Dakota and Ridgewood boots ensures exceptional traction, providing a stable foundation on various surfaces. Together with the high-top design that supports your ankles, these boots offer enhanced stability and minimize the risk of falls and slips.

What’s surprising is that despite their rugged build, the women’s Dakota and men’s Ridgewood boots are actually lightweight, making it easier to lift the feet with every step. Your feet will thank you for the comfort, making extended walks an easier, more pleasant experience.

To maintain foot health in any weather, the waterproof membrane keeps your feet dry, while allowing moisture to escape. This prevents blisters and bacteria build-up.

At the bottom, the orthopedic, cushioned sole provides relief for foot and heel pain, making your walk softer and more enjoyable. The premium orthotic insoles with an anatomical arch support help realign the foot and entire body posture, ensuring proper positioning for your feet and ankles and enhancing walking comfort. 

In addition, the soles are designed with a mild rocker (half inch) that promotes a more balanced gait.

The boots are also structured with a wide toe box, designed to allow the toes to spread naturally, providing relief for conditions like swollen feet, bunions and hammertoes.

Feedback from users

Dakota: Just a great hiking/walking boot!

“I can't believe how comfortable these boots are! It was absolutely wonderful that they included the footbed arch supports, and the single arch support if you wanted extra (which I did need!)......have been out in our mountains on wet slightly mushy trails as well as dry areas and these boots have been the best with traction and water repellent material. Would buy again from you folks in a minute!!”

Caroline Jones

Ridgewood: Love them

“My husband loved the shoes. He says he’s more confident when walking and has less pain in his back.”

Marcy Lafferty 

 

Best slippers for shuffling gait

Women’s Capri | Men’s Tuscany

Capri Slippers

Why you’ll love it

  • Subtle rocker bottom design fosters a gait that is more natural and balanced
  • Durable soles akin to regular shoes improve stability

Specs

  • Sizes: women 5-12; men 7-14
  • Widths: women Standard (B) - Wide (D) | men Standard (D) - Wide (2E)
  • Upper materials: leather
  • Available colors: Capri - camel | Tuscany - brown

 

These moccasin style slippers feature an enclosed design that envelops your feet from all sides, improving stability. Crafted with a durable rubber outsole similar to that of typical footwear, both Tuscany and Capri instill confidence for wear, whether inside and outside the house.

The orthotic insole is designed to hug your arches, effectively reducing arch drop and relieving pressure on the forefoot, alleviating foot pain and promoting support. It is also structured with a mild rocker bottom, effectively promoting a more natural gait. 

The thick and trampoline-like pad under the heel fat pad provides protective cushioning for the heel bone and arch, softening every step you take.

Thoughtfully engineered with extra depth and a wide forefoot, the women's Capri and men's Tuscany slippers create a pressure free space for the foot and toes. This design is particularly suitable for people with problematic foot conditions, such as bunions and neuropathy, accommodating different foot shapes and protrusions, as well as AFOs and other devices.

If custom insoles are a requirement, you can remove the included orthotic and replace it with your own, ensuring a personalized fit and support.

Combined with the luxurious faux fur lining, these slippers offer comfort, stability, and a cozy, pampering sensation.

Feedback from users

Capri: Best slippers I have ever had!

“So soft yet supportive at the same time. The soles are great , allowing me to actually walk and not just shuffle like other slippers I have had.”

Karen Bailey 

 Tuscany: Awesome slipper

“I bought these for my Dad who is 85 and unsteady on his neuropathy feet. With these slippers, he shuffles less and seems to be a bit more steady on his feet. He loves them and said they are keepers!”

Ginger TK

 

Best sandals for shuffling gait

Women’s Laguna

Laguna

Why you’ll love it

  • Multiple adjustability options
  • Ergonomic soles with advanced grip improve stability

    Specs

    • Sizes: 5-12
    • Widths: Standard (B) - Extra Wide (2E) 
    • Upper materials: stretch knit
    • Available colors: blue, peach, gray

       

      Offering multiple ways to adjust the fit, including a bungee cord across the instep and a strap along the heel, these sandals allow you to customize and secure the fit, which greatly improves stability and prevents slippage. 

      The sandals feature a wide toe box to accommodate and prevent various forefoot conditions, providing a comfortable and pressure free space for those with specific foot challenges.

      Constructed from exceptionally breathable and lightweight knit fabric, these sandals are ideal for hot weather, keeping your feet both dry and cool to avoid bad odors and infections.

      The interior of the sandals features an orthotic insole providing anatomical arch support, enhancing the all so important foot alignment. The removable insole allows for custom orthotic inserts or braces if needed, ensuring tailored support.

      The ergonomic sole is specifically designed to alleviate pressure on the heel and feet, promoting comfort and ease of movement.

      The rubber outsole with advanced grip and the gentle rocker bottom design ensure better stability and foster a more natural gait, offering confidence and security with every step.

      Extra padding in the heel area offers a soft, cushioned feel with minimal impact, and the moderate rocker bottom design does wonders to your gait, making it natural and balanced.

      Feedback from users

      Very comfortable

      “Heel strap makes Laguna so easy to put on and take off. They are cooler during hot summer days than an exercise shoe but still offer excellent support. A great sandal!”

      Leslie

       

      Men’s Clearwater

      Clearwater

      Why you’ll love it

      • Closed toe fisherman style protects the feet
      • Multiple straps secure the fit and prevent slippage, for improved stability

      Specs

      • Sizes: 7-14
      • Widths: Standard (D) - Extra Extra Wide (6E) 
      • Upper materials: stretch knit
      • Available colors: brown

       

      Specially crafted to accommodate AFOs and other devices often used by people with shuffling gait, ensuring a stylish yet practical solution for those with specific orthotic needs.

      Featuring a closed toe fisherman style, these sandals provide full protection for your feet and toes. Ideal for transitional seasons, they allow comfortable wear with or without socks.

      The two-way strap design allows fastening and unfastening from the inside or outside, making it easier to put on and take off, especially if you’re facing mobility issues.

      The soft leather upper ensures a non-binding fit, preventing pressure on the feet and contributing to overall comfort and stability.

      Designed with a rubber outsole with gentle rocker design, these sandals promote a more balanced gait and offer extra grip, enhancing stability and minimizing the risk of slips or falls.

      Every part of the sandal features a fully padded, seamless interior, ensuring a gentle touch on the skin and eliminating rubbing and irritation. This design prioritizes comfort, particularly crucial for extended wear and sensitive feet.

      Feedback from users

      Great sandals!

      “I had stopped wearing sandals years ago, until I found this OrthoFeet product. Great arch support, toes protected, yet the feet breathe. Perfect! And I like the velcro straps which make adjustments easy.”

      William Flanigan

       

      What shoe features are important for a shuffling gait?

      When shopping for shoes for shuffling gait, make sure they offer the following design features:

      Stability and shock absorption

      Choose shoes designed to provide stability, alleviating pain points associated with various foot conditions.

      Effective shock absorption is crucial, whether you’re walking indoors or navigating uneven surfaces or rough terrain, as it reduces the impact on the feet and joints, and the risk of injury.

      Supportive arch and fascia design

      Look for shoes that offer robust support for the arch and fascia ligament.

      Built-in arch support promotes proper foot alignment, reducing strain on weakened muscles and enhancing overall stability during walking.

      Lightweight construction

      Your shoes should be lightweight to improve the walking experience and minimize muscle fatigue.

      A lighter shoe minimizes the sensation of dragging, making the act of lifting the feet less taxing for people with a shuffling gait.

      Mild rocker mechanism

      Shoes with a mild rocker design promote a smoother, controlled rolling motion of the foot from heel to toe, allowing a more natural stride. 

      In addition to fostering a more normal gait, the mild rocker bottom design reduces the effort required during each step, enhancing the overall energy efficiency of walking. 

      The curvature of the rocker bottom soles ensures even pressure distribution, alleviating specific areas that might experience excessive strain. This pressure redistribution is particularly helpful for people with a shuffling gait, contributing to a more comfortable and less taxing walking experience.

      Room for AFOs or braces

      Ensure your footwear has enough width for AFO devices or braces.

      Look for shoes with extra depth, generous toe space, wider widths, stretch or flexible uppers and removable insoles to comfortably fit the devices.

      Adjustable for personalized fit

      It’s best to find shoes with adjustable elements like straps or laces to secure the foot and prevent foot slippage.

      Adjustable features provide a customized fit, cater to individual needs and ensure a more stable sensation while walking.

      Comfort and breathability

      Prioritize comfort and breathability in your footwear selection.

      Choose shoes with breathable uppers or other features that allow moisture to evaporate. These design features make sure feet are healthy, infection and odor free.

      Taller shaft for greater stability

      Shoes with a higher shaft can provide added ankle support, increasing stability and helping minimize the risk of falls and ankle sprains.

       

      What are the risks of wearing regular or inappropriate shoes?

      Wearing regular, unsupportive shoes with a shuffling gait poses several risks. 

      The primary concern is the increased likelihood of tripping and falling. If the shoes are not properly fitted - either too tight or too loose - they can contribute to instability, particularly for those already grappling with issues of balance and coordination

      Thick-soled or heeled shoes further heighten the risk of tripping, especially in cases where a person exhibits a shuffling gait due to a stroke or other conditions. 

      In addition, shoes lacking adequate cushioning or support can lead to discomfort, pain and fatigue in the legs and feet, exacerbating the challenges associated with walking. 

      To summarize, appropriate footwear is crucial for maintaining stability, reducing the risk of falls and promoting overall walking comfort for people with a shuffling gait.