Chronic foot pain is among the most annoying pain there is. It can just stop you dead in your tracks. Forget about hiking, even normal daily activities can be painful. I learned this the hard way over time; dealing with recurring stress fractures in one foot, and of late plantar fasciitis have each taken a toll. It’s a Catch 22 situation: I want to exercise for the myriad of medical benefits it will give me, but how do you do that when your feet hurt? (Don’t suggest swimming, that’s not a viable option for me.)
Enter the insole. How can a pad in your shoe make walking so much more tolerable? And what’s the difference between an insole, and an orthotic?
An orthotic is an insert in your shoe that is made to fit your foot. You can get custom orthotics from podiatrists. There are also generic orthotics available in shoe stores that can fit approximately 90% of the population. They are designed to give arch support, depending on whether you have high arches, or low arches. Some orthotics can be heated to mold to your foot. Custom orthotics can be very expensive, generic orthotics less so but usually more expensive than insoles.
An insole is an insert in your shoe that can address a variety of issues, and are used for a variety of purposes. Some insoles are great if you are going to be running, some are applicable for walking, some work for generic everyday use, etc. There are unisex insoles, insoles for wide feet, insoles for dress shoes, insoles with greater metatarsal support, insoles that help keep you from overpronating, etc., etc. With all these choices, how do you choose what’s right for YOUR foot?
First, foremost, and always: TRY THEM ON. Don’t blindly accept what friends tell you, try out the insoles in your own shoes. No two pairs of feet are alike, there are always subtle differences in what seemingly similar feet need. Explain your foot issues to a podiatrist, and get recommendations from the doctor. You can also talk to the folks at Footwear etc.; they know a lot about the different properties of insoles and orthotics and can make knowledgeable suggestions of things to try out. Footwear etc. works with local doctors and uses their recommendations for products to carry.
If you’re looking to add cushioning to your shoes, consider Spenco products. Spenco orthotics and insoles are very economical, and a great choice if you think you need a little extra support. The orthotic arch supports are designed to help control the position of your feet as well as stabilize them and provide cushioning. If you have heel pain, the gel heel cushions and heel cups provide stability as well as superior cushioning. Women can benefit from the Q-Factor Insole, as it can help improve body alignment and balance specifically for them!
Lynco Aetrex insoles are specially designed for casual, dress, and sports, and even specifically for golf shoes. These orthotics are great if you need additional adjustments in the metatarsal area, or a cupped heel for stability. They also have orthotics with posts to control abnormal positioning and movement of the foot, and to adjust your gait for overpronation. Lynco Aetrex even has sheepskin orthotics, for a really luxurious feeling!
Superfeet insoles are excellent for shock absorption. There are styles appropriate for all types of footwear, even dress shoes. People with wide feet can be relieved to find that Superfeet carries several models specifically designed for wide widths. Several models are designed as unisex insoles, some are specifically made for the different needs of men’s feet vs. women’s. They are appropriate for all sorts of uses; there’s even a yellow model designed for track shoes, or hockey/ice skates, or even western boots!
I was absolutely amazed to discover how much of a difference Superfeet insoles made for my feet. I tried on both the unisex green insoles (the most supportive/rigid) and the pink (for women, useful for walking and running), and I could feel a difference immediately. I never realized how much pressure the insoles could relieve by realigning how I stand and providing additional arch support. The deep heel cups also helped my sore heels feel better.
So don’t put up with unnecessary foot pain – try out some insoles and see what a difference it makes. It can change your life!