Best Shoes for Parkinson’s Disease

Easy on, easy off for optimal adaptability.

Updated on May 1, 2024

Living with Parkinson’s disease can mean becoming a master of adapting. Every day, you or your family member may face the possibility of new physical challenges that you didn’t face the day before.

Normal daily activities that many people take for granted often involve additional pain and effort that can be exhausting emotionally and physically. Finding ways to stay engaged in your favorite activities can present unique challenges.

When it comes to footwear, shoes with support and cushion can help ease pain and maximize movement. The best shoes for Parkinson’s disease provide targeted cushioning and wide, non-slip soles that help you move naturally, decrease pain and minimize your risk of falling—all without sacrificing style.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a disorder of the central nervous system that affects your body’s movements.

This condition often begins gradually, usually with a small muscle tremor in one hand, then progressively causes your muscles to become rigid and your movement to get slower. Over time, your speech might get softer, faster, slurred or hesitant, without normal voice inflections, and your posture and balance can become impaired.

While the physical effects of Parkinson’s disease can be extremely challenging, another difficulty can be the loss of independence that often comes with it, along with the way other people interact with you because your body behaves in new ways.

Parkinson’s can impair your ability to make facial expressions, which can make it more difficult for people to connect and respond to you and increase your risk of feeling isolated.

One of the major worries for people with Parkinson’s disease is the potential for a fall. In fact, some estimates say that between 45% and 68% of people with PD will fall every year. While several factors are involved—such as impaired balance, rigid strides, and “freezing” of muscles—wearing supportive shoes with a rubber sole can be a big help.

For people with Parkinson’s disease, foot pain can be a common issue that affects their mobility and quality of life. Fortunately, there are exercises that can help alleviate this pain and improve their overall well-being. In the video below, we will demonstrate a seated belt stretch that can provide relief for Parkinson’s disease foot pain.

  • Man wearing KURU ATOM Slip-On shoes for Parkinson's disease.

Most Common Causes & Risk Factors

Like many medical conditions, Parkinson’s disease doesn’t have a single cause. Scientists have determined that in patients with Parkinson’s, there is a breakdown of the neurons in the brain that produce dopamine. They have also identified a variety of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that appear to increase the chance a person will develop PD, including:

  • Genetic mutations
    genetic mutations have been identified as a risk factor for the development of the condition. In particular, mutations in certain genes such as SNCA, LRRK2, and PARK2 have been associated with an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease. These genes play a role in the regulation of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is involved in the control of movement. When these genes are mutated, they can interfere with the normal functioning of dopamine, leading to the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. While not all cases of Parkinson’s Disease are caused by genetic mutations, individuals with a family history of the condition may be at a higher risk of developing the disease.
    Genetic mutations
  • Exposure to herbicides or pesticides
    Exposure to certain herbicides and pesticides has been identified as a possible environmental risk factor for the development of Parkinson’s Disease. Studies have shown that individuals who are exposed to high levels of certain chemicals, such as paraquat and rotenone, are more likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease than those who are not exposed. These chemicals are known to cause damage to neurons in the brain that produce dopamine, which can lead to the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.
    Exposure to herbicides or pesticides
  • Traumatic brain injury
    Studies have shown that individuals who have suffered a TBI with loss of consciousness are more likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease later in life compared to those who have not experienced a TBI. The exact mechanisms by which TBI increases the risk of Parkinson’s Disease are not fully understood, but it is thought that the damage caused to the brain can trigger the development of abnormal protein deposits in the brain, which are characteristic of Parkinson’s Disease. In addition, the inflammation and oxidative stress that occur after a TBI may also contribute to the development of Parkinson’s Disease.
    Traumatic brain injury
  • Living in the northeast or midwestern US
    Studies have shown that individuals living in these regions are more likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease than those living in other regions of the country. It is not clear why this association exists, but it has been suggested that environmental factors, such as exposure to certain toxins or chemicals, may play a role. Additionally, it is possible that genetic factors or differences in lifestyle factors, such as diet or physical activity levels, may also contribute to the increased risk.
    Living in the northeast or midwestern US
  • Age
    While PD can occur in younger individuals, it is relatively rare and usually associated with genetic factors. The risk of developing PD increases with age, with the majority of cases occurring in individuals over the age of 50. The exact reasons why aging increases the risk of PD are not fully understood, but it is thought that the accumulation of damage and loss of function in cells of the brain over time may contribute to the development of the disease.
    Age
  • Gender
    Studies have shown that men are up to twice as likely as women to develop PD, although the reasons for this difference are not fully understood. It has been suggested that hormonal differences between men and women may play a role, with estrogen levels in women potentially offering some protection against the development of PD. Additionally, lifestyle factors such as differences in occupation or exposure to environmental toxins may also contribute to the increased risk for men. While men are more likely to develop PD than women, the disease can still occur in women, and early diagnosis and treatment are important regardless of gender.
    Gender

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease tend to develop slowly and unpredictably and they are often different for every person. There are two main categories of symptoms: those that affect motor control, causing tremors and rigid muscles, and those that affect non-motor symptoms, including pain and dementia.

While symptoms develop differently for each person, they tend to follow a broad pattern. Very often, Parkinson’s disease starts with a slight tremor in one hand. Sometimes it starts with persistent stiffness that doesn’t go away as you move. As the disease progresses, you may experience:

  • Bradykinesia
    This literally means “slowness of movement.” Your voluntary motor control is impaired and can lead to “freezing,” where you can’t move for a period of time. This can be a major challenge for walking and increase the risk of falling.
    Bradykinesia
  • Masked face
    The inability to make facial expressions. It’s caused by a combination of bradykinesia and muscle rigidity.
    Masked face
  • Festination
    This is the scientific name for short, rapid steps. Footwear designed to help cushion the high impact of these steps can help ease the foot pain they often cause.
    Festination
  • Cramping
    This can affect your toes, making shoes with a wide toe box very important.
    Cramping
  • Cognitive changes
    Increasing problems with memory, attention and planning.
    Cognitive changes
  • Mood disorders
    These might include depression, anxiety, apathy and irritability.
    Mood disorders
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Facts and Stats

  • Parkinson’s disease affects about 1 million people in the US and 10 million worldwide.
  • About one in 37 people will develop Parkinson’s disease.
  • PD causes some people to walk flat-footed, and others to walk on their toes, depending on which part of the foot is affected by rigidity.
  • The prevalence of Parkinson’s is higher in the northeastern and midwestern US.
  • Parkinson’s disease is the fastest growing neurological disorder in the world.

Treatment

With quality care, people with Parkinson’s disease can enjoy a high quality of life for many years. While there’s no cure, there are treatments and lifestyle changes that can help relieve the progression of symptoms.

Many doctors recommend an interdisciplinary team approach to manage symptoms and make life better for people with Parkinson’s, involving specialists in disciplines such as neurology, nursing, speech therapy, psychiatry, occupational therapy and dietetics.

Since Parkinson’s involves both motor and non-motor functions, the team consists of specialists who can keep an eye on all potential developments. There are three main approaches for treating PD:

  • Medication
    Many people with Parkinson’s find medication helpful. When a doctor is considering whether a medication should be used, they consider several factors involved in your health. Parkinson’s affects each individual differently, so the best medical plan will vary person to person.
    Medication
  • Surgery
    Sometimes, people with Parkinson’s have the option to elect various types of surgery to alleviate their symptoms. Your doctor will be the best person to help guide you through your options based on your unique situation.
    Surgery
  • Lifestyle Changes
    People with Parkinson’s can help manage their symptoms with healthy choices about diet, rest, and exercise. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and other nutrient-dense choices help promote optimal body function. Getting enough sleep is crucial to minimizing symptoms, and staying active promotes flexibility and strength. It also helps ease stiffness.
    Lifestyle Changes
  • Proper Footwear
    As you follow the course of treatment your doctors have arranged for treating your Parkinson’s disease, footwear is an important consideration. The best shoes for Parkinson’s patients feature arch support and cushion, a wide toe box for easy movement, and broad, anti-slip soles that give you a solid, supportive foundation for stability and maximum comfort.
    Proper Footwear

FAQs

  • What causes Parkinson’s disease?

    Like most diseases, Parkinson’s disease (PD) doesn’t have a single cause. Scientists believe it is caused by a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.

    Some people have genes that make them more likely to develop PD, but that’s true in only about 10–15% of cases. The other 85–90% have a history of exposure to pesticides, herbicides, various metals, or certain kinds of industrial chemicals. Gender also appears to play a role, as men are more likely than women to get PD.

  • How do I prevent Parkinson’s disease?

    While Parkinson’s Disease may not be completely preventable, diet and exercise can help reduce your risk.

    Fueling your body with a diet rich in vegetables can lower your risk for PD, and moderate to vigorous exercise appears to have a protective effect as well. You can also take measures to avoid neurotoxic substances that can contribute to PD, such as pesticides and herbicides.

  • How does Parkinson’s disease affect the feet?

    Because PD affects your nerves and muscles, it can contribute to a number of foot problems. Some people experience stiffness in their legs, ankles or feet, leading to a flat-footed gait which can cause pain. It may also cause swelling in your feet, which can often be relieved by elevating them. PD may also lead to dystonia, which causes your toes or other parts of the body to cramp and curl inward.

  • What kind of shoes should I wear for Parkinson’s disease?

    If you have PD, you need to take extra special care of your feet. The best shoes for Parkinson’s disease fit comfortably without sliding around, but provide plenty of space from side to side as well as in the toe box.

Three Layers of Support

At KURU, we pride ourselves on our unique approach to shoe design. We believe that shoes should be shaped to fit the natural contours of your feet, which is why we create every pair in three distinct support layers, not just an insole.

 

Our revolutionary ergonomic design starts with a curved footbed and adds unparalleled triple-layer support that includes shock-absorbing KURUCLOUD, heel-cupping KURUSOLE, and arch-supporting ULTIMATE INSOLES. The result? Shoes that are so comfortable you’ll stop thinking about your feet.

  • 1

    KURUSOLE

  • 2

    KURUCLOUD

  • 3

    ULTIMATE INSOLE

  • How KURU brings relief

    KURUSOLE

    Our patented KURUSOLE features a unique design that cups and protects the heel and allows for dynamic flexion with each step. This superior support helps us utilize our body’s natural cushioning system: the heel’s fat pad.

Our Secret

Animated GIF showing KURUSOLE tech in KURU shoes vs. typical flat interiors for plantar fasciitis pain.
Why Others Love KURU

Why Others Love KURU

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ratings.

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Happy feet. These are great shoes and are really helping me walk with my Parkinson’s.

Susan S.

Best shoe ever! My husband bought a pair of these first and liked them so much, I bought a pair. Best decision ever! These are the most comfortable walking shoes I’ve ever had. I have Parkinson’s and walking can sometimes be difficult. These shoes are both comfortable and sturdy. Lightweight, too. Love them!”

DIBSSS

I am in awe!!! My husband has Parkinson’s, flat feet, and over pronates. The stability of the shoes have been way beyond excellent for him. He is walking much better and loves them. We have tried every show imaginable, and this is the one he wants to wear. They are very easy for him to get on, too.”

Swede

Best gift for family. I bought a pair for my mom who has plantar fasciitis and when she wore it for a day, she said they are a perfect fit (size 8 feet, bought 8 1/2), they are comfortable, and helped her heel pain. She was so grateful that she told me to buy a pair for my aunt who has Parkinsons and heel pain. So I did. Hope she loves them.”

anonymous

Wonderful support and so comfortable. My husband has Parkinson’s, flat feet, and over pronates. The stability of the shoes have been way beyond excellent for him. He is walking much better and loves them. We have tried every show imaginable, and this is the one he wants to wear. They are very easy for him to get on, too.”

Swede

Comfort at last. I have PD with the painful curling of toes—dystonia. I have had 2 stress fractures same bone in a year. To put it mildly I have been miserable. I googled best shoes for my problems and found KURU. I read the reviews and ordered up 2 pairs. I knew as soon as I tried them on I was in heaven. Like clouds hugging my feet! THANK YOU KURU!!! Please make more in wide, especially boot for winter.”

Nadine W.

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Recommended Shoes for Parkinson’s Disease

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