Walk a Mile in an FAer’s Shoes

Christina Cordaro avatar

by Christina Cordaro |

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Shoes are essential for making a statement on one’s wardrobe and personality. This is especially true for me as a young woman with Friedreich’s ataxia. I want to be able to fit in, yet still feel comfortable and safe. It’s been difficult to find a pair of shoes that best accommodate my accessibility needs, but I recently found my answer.

A few years ago, I did outpatient physical therapy at a branch of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. I stopped going because therapy took too much energy, money, and time. Plus, my physical therapist, Elena, thought at-home exercises would suffice in my case. The at-home exercise plan taught me a lot about discipline, but I was just barely able to keep up.

I decided to attend physical therapy again last winter because I had a few focus goals to achieve but needed expert guidance. I aimed to strengthen my core balance and my walking, learn techniques to decrease my fatigue levels, and inquire about using a walking assistive device like a cane or rollator.

Elena suggested I wear a supportive shoe style that provides relief and helps keep me grounded and stable when walking. Such a shoe would also save me a lot of energy because I wouldn’t need to work as many muscles to stay balanced.

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She suggested wearing Vans because their sneakers have thick, straight-down soles. She explained that the company makes purpose-built shoes designed for consumers who skateboard. They offer balanced comfort while remaining light, flexible, and breathable. They have various styles to satisfy fashion desires.

Elena advised me to wear insoles in my Vans called Superfeet. Superfeet inserts are sculpted for comfort and pain relief. The insoles are naturally supportive and enhance your feet movements by dispersing impact to decrease bodily stress and strain. I found them at a local running shop.

Elena and I decided a rollator would best fit my walking assistive device needs. My rollator helps me safely walk long distances, so I use it daily.

Wearing Vans and Superfeet while using my rollator sets me up for success! My balance and walking have improved, and I sometimes feel less tired when walking. My confidence is boosted by these assets, especially when I have to go out for work or errands.

For my birthday, I got a new pair of Vans from my fiancé’s parents, John and Ellen. They know how much comfort the sneakers give me when I walk. The pair I got is a nice alligator suede, maroon, slip-on style to complement the fall weather. This is my third pair of Vans (I have a pineapple print pair for hospitality and a black pair to go with everything). I always wear my Vans when going to and from work or when I have a long day ahead of me.

When you find a shoe that fits your needs, stick to it! It is OK to have the same shoe in different colors.


Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


Kelly Barendt avatar

Kelly Barendt

Always looking for new, comfy shoe recs! Thanks for sharing !


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