Falls prevention for the older people – Risk factors, feet and shoes

Risk factors for falls

As we age the chances of a fall increases, frequently causing significant injury, self-confidence diminishes, the ability for movement decreases, and loss of freedom to the person. There are broad ranges of factors that contribute to falls risk in an older individual and are often multifactorial. 

What are the important features of shoes that you should be looking out for?

Wearing a good fitting shoe is important in preventing falls.  Looking for features on shoes can be daunting if you don’t know what to look for and how to look for them. Below I have listed some features of shoes to look out for.


  •         Firm arch support
  •         Firm, enclosed heel
  •         Covers the foot from the heel to past the toes 
  •         Lightweight
  •         Adjustable fastening (laces, Velcro, buckle)


  •         It covers the length of the foot with at least one thumb length from end of toes to end of shoe 
  •         Room in toe box (width and depth)
  •         Contours the shape as foot
  •         Nice fit in heel
  •         Holds foot back into shoe



  •         Non-slip sole (rubber)
  •         Not too thick
  •         Flexible under your foot



  •         Low, less risk of rolling ankle and fall
  •         Broad-Covers more than just the heel it goes past either end
  •         Rounded edge which places less pressure on the heels when walking


Foot conditions associated to increase risk of falls

Foot problems can reduce our balance and therefore increase our risk of falls.

Your foot health can have a direct link to your likelihood of falling. With falls, often the older person may have low bone density, falls can result in hip fractures, hip fractures can sometimes result in death. Without sounding dramatic, not all hip fractures result in death but some can. Our role as podiatrists is that we can make the link with your foot condition to an increase risk of falls.

Common foot conditions that predispose you to falls are listed below:

  •         Bunions
  •         Little toe deformities
  •         Calluses
  •         Corns
  •         Thick nails
  •         Flat feet

Come in and see a podiatrist to get a thorough shoe and foot check

A podiatrist’s role is to conservatively manage your foot condition. This means the podiatrist will assess your foot, gait, the severity of your condition, and go through the conservative, non-operative treatment options. 

Some common treatments that help to reduce the risk of falls include:

  • Custom orthotics – To help offload areas that are being overloaded and worked, help realign the foot and prevent further deterioration and deformity.
  • Sports taping to help realign the foot and reduce pain.
  • Strengthening exercises to help improve the power and endurance of some of the bigger and smaller muscles around the lower leg and foot.
  • Balancing exercises to help strengthen the lower leg muscles and help improve postural stability to reduce the risk of falls.
  • Footwear advice – assess your footwear and give you appropriate advice to reduce progression, pain and reduce risk of falls.
  • Joint mobilisation – involves using hands-on therapy to help improve the joint range of motion and free up the joints more.
  • Routine removal of corns and calluses to help reduce pain and the risk of a falls
  • Education on all aspects associated with your foot condition, show you features of shoes, treatment options, short & long-term management of foot conditions.

So, if you have any of these foot conditions or you are not sure, please contact The Footcare Clinic and would be more than happy to perform a thorough foot and shoe assessment for you. You can call our clinic on 9711 7562 or book online.


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