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How can wide-fitting shoes help prevent falls?

How can wide-fitting shoes help prevent falls?
We probably all know an older person who has "had a fall". In fact, statistically it's very likely since falls, particularly in the elderly, are very common. They can be, although are not always by any means, very serious with bruised or broken hips, elbows or legs, and they can even be deadly.

They can also be very avoidable.

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 30% of people older than 65 and 50% of people older than 80 fall at least once a year[1]. In fact, falls are the most common cause of death from injury in the UK in the over 65s.

Common injuries are probably obvious; broken hips, legs, ribs, arms to name but a few. But the impact of the fall isn't always felt just in physical terms, indeed it can have much broader consequences.

Age UK research suggests:
Open Quotations Following a fall, an older person has a 50 per cent probability of having their mobility seriously impaired Close Quotation

This of course has a huge impact on the person, but also their families. A loss of mobility means dependence on other people to help out a lot, and when this falls on already busy families then feelings of "being a burden" can develop and be difficult to shake. And for those without families to depend on, a fall could mean a move into a retirement home.

Even less immediately serious physical injuries can have a lasting impact. A loss of confidence can be one of the most damaging mental or emotional consequences, causing wariness to exercise or undertake certain activities, which can begin a downward spiral.

What causes falls?

With such consequences, it's clearly important to understand the cause of falls, so that we can begin to put things in to place NOW to prevent them from happening to ourselves or loved ones. Don't wait for it to happen.

A doctor taking someone's blood pressure

Causes of falls include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Problems with vision
- Low blood pressure and heart disease, which can cause dizziness or fainting
- Problems with balance
- Muscle weakness
- Poorly fitting or old, tatty footwear
- Obstructions or trip hazards
- Even poor lighting can cause a missed step

Falls Prevention top tips:
Get checked out by a medical professional.
Ensuring your loved one can attend regular health check-ups to test vision, hearing and physical health monitoring can be of great help in catch any health problems before they become major issues.

Ensure good lighting in the home.
Ensure loved ones are able to open curtains, or replace curtains with easier to manage blinds to ensure sufficient light can get into the home and perhaps take the time to review furniture layouts to reduce the risk of obstructions that could become trip hazards and cause a fall.

Remain active.
People doing Tai ChiEnsure your loved ones maintain an active lifestyle where possible.

According to, "many adults aged 65 and over spend, on average, 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down" which can lead to "higher rates of falls, obesity, heart disease and early death compared with the general population".[4] However, trials of certain exercise programmes have shown reductions in the risk of falling of between 35% and 54%[5], demonstrating the importance of maintaining a level of activity.

We often hear from elderly customers or people suffering from certain conditions like Arthritis, lymphedema and diabetes that they find it difficult to find footwear that doesn't cause pain. Swollen limbs and joints no longer fit into regular high street shoes, meaning that the condition sufferer can no longer get out and about.

Open Quotations After falling down the stairs last year and breaking a toe I realised I couldn't go on anymore squeezing myself into the wrong size shoes Close Quotation
Mrs S

Buy the right shoes for your feet

Whilst we can’t provide the solutions to all of the above problems, we can help with correctly-fitting, supportive footwear.

The best shoes for preventing falls:
- Are the correct length: they’re not too long, becoming a trip hazard
- Are the correct width: they’re not loose, so as to fall off
- Have grippy sole: to reduce slipping
- Have a secure fastening: to keep them on your feet whilst walking
- Have flared soles, or at least a straight sole: for extra stability
- Are in good condition: offering the right support

Avoid trips: Don’t buy longer to get the extra width

Would you believe that, according to the University Hospitals of Leicester, 24,000 over-65s in the UK fall over at home every year because of poorly fitting footwear[7]?

This issue may be twofold:
1. Many female sufferers resort to buying men's footwear to provide extra width, which can impact on confidence when going out. Not only this, but men's shoes are made for men's feet, and shoes that are too long result in loss of control and increase the likelihood of catching on an edge, lip or step.

2. Many people buy shoes 1 or 2 sizes bigger to provide the extra width that they need, but this in turn becomes a trip hazard, increasing further their likelihood of a fall. You can find many examples of the above in the "What Our Customers Say" section of our website.

Because all of our shoes are much wider than shoes you can find on the high street, our customers have been able to find shoes that offer the required width in their shoe size - making them far safer, especially around stairs, kerbs and even bumps on the pavement.

In fact, our customers often tell us that they come down a half, full or even 2 full sizes when they discover our shoes!

And those who were previously buying men's shoes to get the width are able to choose from a huge range of feminine styles of all types, ensuring they can remain confident to get out of the house and keep active.

But the extra width doesn’t mean you need to compromise on style. Our shoes may be wider and deeper, but they look just like high street shoes!

A collection of women wearing canvas shoes

Avoid loose shoes: Get the perfect width for you

Shoes falling off or having to clench your toes to keep shoes in is neither safe nor comfortable. Ensure your shoes perfectly fit your feet in terms of both length and width.

Our shoes are available in variable width fittings, meaning they can be adjusted to fit your feet by removing one or two specially designed removable insoles.

This also means that, if one foot is wider than the other, you can get the perfect fit on both feet!

Our shoes are available in three variable width fittings:
- Wide V (suitable for people requiring E-EEE width) (Men’s styles only)
- Wider 2V (suitable for people requiring EE-4E width) and
- Extra Wide 6V (suitable for people requiring 6E-8E width fitting, and the widest and deepest shoes on the market).

chart of wider and deeper shoes

These styles come with removable insoles. If one foot is more swollen, or you need to insert an orthotic, you can remove the inner-soles from the shoe, increasing the width and depth while the other remains the same size.

A removable insoles icon Look for the Removable Insoles icon in our brochure.

How do I know the correct size to order?

Knowing the correct size to order is easy; simply measure your feet using a fabric tape measure and input the measurements into our simple online Fit Finder.

You’ll then discover your size and width fitting, whether that’s wide 2V(EE-4E) or extra wide 6V(6E-8E), and be directed to styles suitable for you.

Watch the handy video below for simple tips to ensure accurate measurement of your feet.

5 Top tips for measuring your feet:
1. You’ll need a fabric tape measure and a sheet of A4 paper
2. Wear your usual socks or tights
3. If you wear orthoses, measure while wearing them
4. Measure standing up on a hard floor
5. Ask someone to help if you can

Learn more about our fittings here >

Avoid slipping with grippy rubber soles

It’s not just trips that can cause falls, slips can also be a problem. Good grip is always important but especially in colder, wetter months and so many of our trainers and shoes include a grippy rubber sole to keep you from slipping.

Wide-fitting ladies trainer Rail and men’s trainer Devon have grippy rubber soles and flared sole to keep you sure of foot and stable while out and about. The removable insoles and adjustable straps mean that you can ensure a snug fit for your foot.

These styles are also built with twin cut-to-fit straps for an easier fastening, whilst still offering a secure fit but is designed to open really wide to ensure the easiest access possible for swollen or extra-wide feet.

TExt saying Grippy Rubber Sole Look for the Grippy Rubber Sole icon in our brochure.

A collection of shoes being put on

Keep your shoes on! Footwear with secure fastenings

Our shoes, sandals, slippers and boots come with a variety of fastenings to ensure the perfect balance of security of fit and ease of access to suit your needs.

Lace-up fastenings: offer the most secure fastening, with ultimate adjustability, but aren’t great for people who have difficulty with laces. You’ll find laces on a range of trainers, everyday shoes, boots and even some sandals.

A woman sat on a wicker chair

Adjustable bar / strap fastening styles: offer a good combination of security of fit with ease of access and adjustment, perfect for people requiring the confidence to move freely but who may struggle to adjust laces.

A pair of red strap shoes with a stretch icon

Slip-on fastening styles: offer easy access but are the least securely fitting. For this reason, we don’t recommend slip-on styles for people concerned about the possibility of falls.

A collection of shoes being put on

Extra stability from shoes with flared soles

Flared soles, providing a wider base to the shoe, offer an extra level of stability that can be important in preventing falls.

You’ll find our grippy rubber sole found on our trainers like Scaup and Riley alongside our new extra deep flared sole, with an on-trend extra-flared shape, on styles like stylish trainer Impala, or square-toed Kiwi.

A pair of blue strap shoes by a pool

Additionally, or brand new super-lightweight flared sole is available on selected new men’s styles, like Patrick and Norton. Classic shoe styles built on a deep, super lightweight flared sole for all day comfort with bags of stability.

A collection of men's shoes

If these styles aren’t for you then a straight sole, like our Bumper Sole styles like Yoko and Sinead, or on House Shoes like Eliza can be effective in preventing falls too.

An icon of a shoe with a flared sole Look for the Flared Sole icon in our brochure

A woman with a pair of blue shoes over her shoulder

Replace those sloppy slippers

Supportive shoes are a must for preventing falls, and this can mean shoes built with the right support, as well as shoes that are in good condition.

Because many slippers have thinner soles for round the house wear, they can soon wear out, especially if you're homebound and spend a lot of time in them. And because slippers don't have stiffeners built into them they can become floppy and unsupportive, which makes them a real trip hazard, especially if you've already bought 1 size up to get the extra width your feet need!

Even our canvas pumps, slippers and house shoes contain supportive back stiffeners for improved stability and support whilst hard-wearing outsoles can be worn in- or outdoors.

For spring and summer, our lightweight canvas pumps like Kangaroo, Penguin or Spring may offer just the solution you need for all day comfort in spring and summer. They’re lightweight enough to be worn indoors but supportive enough for all day wear, and with hard-wearing soles that can be worn outdoors too.

A woman sat next to a pool in blue dress

For autumn and winter our classic slippers offer the same level of support and stability, alongside such a comfortable fit that you won’t want to take them off!

We offer a range of slippers with adjustable straps for a secure fit, like classic Keeston, open style with twin straps Ace 2, and wide-opening, super-cosy Savannah.

Someone putting on a pair of strap slippers

For the gents you’ll find stylish house shoes like strap fastening House Shoe Oscar, lightweight canvas lace-up Troon or Joseph, designed especially for extra-wide feet.

A collection of men wearing shoes and shoes

All of our canvas pumps, slippers and house shoes (excluding Hawk and Guillemot) are made with no animal products, making them vegan-friendly too.

The verdict

Whilst we can't help with all the causes of falls, we can try to highlight the dangers of falls, suggest possible preventative measures and we can certainly aid people in avoiding falls through footwear-related problems.

By wearing well-fitting shoes or house shoes instead of "buying the next size up" to provide extra width you can reduce the chance of a fall around steps and bumps considerably. And comfortable footwear that doesn't squeeze, pinch or worse, can help us to get out of the house regularly, helping us to keep active, fit & healthy, while attractive wide-fitting shoes means we can step out in confidence.

Like many of our customers say, we provide life-changing comfort. It could just be life-saving too.

Browse all women's wide-fitting shoe styles now »
Browse all men's wide-fitting shoe styles now »

Risk free footwear

We know that it’s really difficult to order footwear online and find the perfect fit, but we want to make it as easy, risk-free and stress-free as possible. That’s why we offer free postage on returns and exchanges on all UK orders so that, if you’re in the UK and have ordered from us and the shoes aren’t right for whatever reason, you can give us a call to discuss the problem and return them to us, unworn except for trying on to exchange for a different size, style or fitting without paying a penny more in postage.

Once you’ve found your perfect fit, you’ll never look back!

We hope that you agree that our wide-fitting shoes, trainers and sandals offer the perfect fit for every wide, deep or problem foot!

VAT Exempt footwear

Did you know, if you need 6E, 6V or 8E fitting footwear and have a qualifying condition, that you might be eligible for VAT relief?

This means that you could essentially benefit from a discount of 20%. And what's more, our promotional discount codes still apply, meaning you can gain further savings.

We make it easy to claim your VAT relief by clearly listing the VAT exempt price against qualifying products, and provide a very short form to fill out as part of the checkout process when ordering your 6E, 8E or 6V fitting shoes.

Qualifying conditions for VAT free purchases include physical or mental impairment that affects your ability to carry out everyday activities, for example, blindness; conditions treated as chronic sickness, such as diabetes, arthritis or lymphedema; and long-term illnesses.

Look out for the link underneath our available fittings on each product page to claim your VAT exemption.

Need Our Help?

If you’re unsure about anything at all to do with our styles, features or fittings and whether they’re right for you, please do contact us on +44 (0)1933 311 077, Monday to Friday, 9-5 to speak with one of our friendly, knowledgeable UK based customer services team, who will be delighted to help.

OR would you like some in-person help to find the perfect fit for your feet? Then why not book an appointment and visit our Fitting Centre in Rushden, Northamptonshire.

We offer a traditional, personal service to help you find the perfect shoes either for naturally broad feet, to accommodate orthotics and or for foot health issues such as arthritis, lymphedema, diabetes, bunions and many more.

Our appointment system ensures you'll receive our team's full attention and there's no obligation to buy.
Check out our Fitting Centre details today for further information.

Why not check out some of our other blog posts to help you with you find your perfect shoe.
Our top 5 ways to keep active »
Spoilt for choice with our widest fittings »
Shoes for on your feet all day »