The Most Stylish And Supportive Orthopaedic Shoes Around

For as long as I can remember, my mum has struggled to find comfortable, wide-fitting, supportive shoes that fit. So when I came across Friendly Shoes, I knew I had to tell her straight away! These are some of the best orthopaedic shoes available – stylish, supportive, easy on shoes that are suitable for so many foot concerns.

And considering I seem to have inherited her feet (arthritis in my toes), I’m always keen to learn about new footwear options too.

What Are Orthopaedic Shoes?

First things first, what makes a shoe orthopaedic? Well, it’s a broad term to describe any kind of footwear that relieves foot pain and provides support to the foot, ankle and legs.

They accommodate the shape, size and position of your foot (which is why my mum with her bunions and other foot problems has always struggled with ‘regular’ shoes).

You might be looking for shoes for AFOs, wide-fitting trainers for bunions, shoes with room for orthotics or even a good heel cushion for that all-important padding. All of these count as orthopaedic footwear.

As our parents get older, it’s more and more important to help them find comfortable footwear that provides proper support. Badly fitting shoes are a real cause of falls (and don’t get our physiotherapist Nancy started on the problems with backless shoes and slippers!). So even if they have never worn orthopaedic shoes before, now is a good time to start.

Orthopaedic shoes often get a bad rep for being ‘old people shoes’ and looking ugly. Well that it isn’t the case here. Put down the shoes with velcro and get ready to find footwear that will change your (or your loved one’s) life.

Friendly Shoes

These shoes are friendly by name, friendly by nature! They were created by an occupational therapist who wanted to help people walk more easily, in shoes that fit properly. The clever USP of these adaptive shoes is how easy they are to put on.

All their shoes are stylish trainers with zips on the side or at the back. They call this ‘Easy Shoe Access’ as it means you can easily slide the foot in and out (even when wearing a brace for example).

The zip also opens up super wide so you can see the whole interior of the shoe and where to place the foot (I’ve spent hours watching my mum struggle with zips that only go part way down the shoe so I really appreciated this when I saw it).

Plus, as they count as specialist footwear, eligible people can also claim VAT exemption (the prices in this article include VAT FYI).

There’s three styles for men and women, in a variety of colours.


Out of the box comfort guaranteed! Set the tension with the laces once and then just use the zip. Plus there’s a wide expanding upper and generous toe box for people with wide or swollen feet. I love like the navy with a pop of peach (see it in the photo at the top of the page) and the black (for both genders) is very classic.

Available in black (men/women), navy and mint (women). £83.99

Voyage black

Friendly Force

Force light grey

The roomiest shoe in the collection, this is great for people with swollen feet. No laces to deal with, this lightweight shoe can double as a supportive house slipper. Like all the shoes, there’s an anti-slip sole to reduce falls risk too.

Available in black (men/women), grey (women) and peach (women). £71.99


This style opens up at the back, so is a great adaptive shoe choice for people who want to be super discreet (for example in a wheelchair). With mid and low top options for men and women, the Excursion offers the most support.

Available for men and women in various colours. £89.99 (low-top), £95.99 (mid-top).

Excursion easy on shoes

Friendly Shoes are for everyone, so I thought it would be best to look at who may need some footwear help and why Friendly Shoes could be the solution.

Shoes With Room For Orthotics

Orthotics are special shoe inserts that can achieve better foot function. They range from off-the-shelf inserts to custom orthotics, braces, splints and AFOs, and finding shoes suitable for orthotics can be difficult.

The beauty of Friendly Shoes is that they work for this wide-ranging list.

The removable memory foam insole in each pair of Friendly Shoes means that where necessary, it can be removed and replaced with your orthotic. Taking it out creates an extra 1.3cm overall of space in the already roomy shoe.

Or, if you wear a heel raise for example you can easily place it under the cushioned insole – still getting the benefit of the orthotic as well as the extra padding!

Removable memory foam insole

Shoes For People Who Want To Stay Independent

The adaptive clothing market is growing and it’s great to see adaptive footwear options now too – anything that helps people stay independent and gives them choice when it comes to getting dressed is a positive.

The YKK zips on Friendly Shoes are easy to grip and do up (depending on hand function, a dressing stick could even be used with the large puller on the Excursion). And then, once open, the wide entry portal makes it easier than usual to get the shoe on and off.

Meaning that people who may not have been able to be shoe independent now can be. Also, if your loved one has a carer then adaptive clothing and shoes can help reduce the amount of time getting dressed (and even reduce the carer’s hours).

Any of the Friendly Shoes range would be suitable – it really comes to personal choice. But I’d have to go with the Voyage (and how great does this mint style look?!).

Easy on shoe

Shoes With A Wide Toe Box

Footwear with a roomy toe box is needed by people for a number of reasons – you might be looking for wide fitting shoes for bunions or need shoes for swollen feet.

All Friendly Shoes have an E width fitting so you don’t need to squeeze your toes in. Plus there’s ample depth.

This gives space to bunions, hammer toes, corns etc without crowding so will be more comfortable all round. Comfortable shoes are the holy grail – when feet are painful it can affect balance especially in older adults.

If someone has swollen feet (for example after surgery), then the roomiest shoe in the collection is the Friendly Force. There are no laces, and instead there’s an extra elastic tab at the entry portal which allows for more give. The lightweight flyknit material is also flexible, and will not dig in.

Best Shoes For Diabetics

Friendly Shoes are a great diabetic footwear option. They have:

  1. Smooth inner linings reduce skin friction and the (removable) memory foam insole allows for even pressure distribution. The lining is made from silky lycra and they are as seamfree as possible.
  2. Adjustability (laces + relaxing zipper) to accommodate swelling. This allows you to maintain proper fit/fixation, also reducing skin friction. 
  3. Ease of access + adjustability is a helpful alternative for individuals who may be utilizing oversized shoes (which provide poor fixation, increased friction).

Lightweight Shoes

Lightweight shoes for elderly parents can encourage them out of slippers and into more supportive footwear options.

This is good for a number of reasons – when older adults rely on slippers, they are more likely to shuffle. Not only can this lead to falls, but wearing shoes naturally helps them to strengthen the joints in their feet.

Friendly Shoes are incredibly lightweight (under 250g for a size 9 Excursion!) – much more than their sturdiness gives the impression of!

Measuring For Shoes

Finding the right fit is so important. If someone has swollen feet for example, don’t just buy the larger size – the shoe will not fit correctly, will move around and rub the foot.

Friendly Shoes recommends that when finding the right shoe, the most important measurement is the length of the foot from toe to heel. Draw around the foot on a piece of paper, measure it and then use their size guide to find the right supportive shoe for you.

In Summary

From someone who has spent many an hour shopping around, I know that finding the best orthopaedic shoes can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Which is why I’m so happy to have found Friendly Shoes!

If you’re in need of shoes that are easy to put on, help reduce pain in the feet by fitting properly and make wearing shoes so much easier (and a joy) then I’d encourage you to look them up! Specialist shoes have had a makeover, hurrah!

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