To compare the effectiveness of therapeutic, comfort, and athletic shoes with and without viscoelastic insoles.


We compared pressure reduction at ulcer sites under the hallux (n = 10), first metatarsal (n = 10), and lesser metatarsals (n = 12), using extra-depth, athletic, and comfort shoes with and without viscoelastic insoles. A rubber-soled canvas oxford was used to establish baseline pressure values.


When used in conjunction with a viscoelastic insole, all shoe types reduced mean peak plantar pressure better than their non-insoled counterparts (P < 0.05). Consistently, comfort shoes reduced pressure significantly better than both the cross trainers and extra-depth shoes for ulcers under the first and lesser metatarsals (P < 0.05). For each shoe type, the addition of the viscoelastic insole provided a significant reduction in mean peak pressure (P < 0.05). Compared with stock insoles, viscoelastic insoles reduced pressures an additional 5.4-20.1% at ulcer sites. The same trend was also observed at regions of the foot not associated with an ulceration.


When used in conjunction with a viscoelastic insole, both the comfort and athletic cross-trainer shoes studied were as, if not more, effective than commonly prescribed therapeutic shoes in reducing mean peak first and lesser metatarsal pressures. Furthermore, comfort shoes were as effective as therapeutic shoes in reducing pressure under the great toe. Both of these shoe types may be viable options to prevent the development or recurrence of foot ulcers.

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