How to Choose an Insole


There are hundreds of insoles out there. Trying to figure out what best suits your needs can be completely confusing. What makes an insole an orthotic, and do you need that? Or do you just need something soft in your shoe? How do you make your feet feel better? Do you need a custom orthotic made by a podiatrist, or will something over the counter do? Here are some guidelines that might help you with the decision-making process.

First off: what’s the difference between an insole and an orthotic? An insole can be defined as anything you insert into your shoe. They can be soft, they can be firm, they can be customized to your feet, etc. Insoles can range from a little spongy shoe-shaped insert that you get from the local drug store, to something that is specially contoured for your foot. There may or may not be any arch support in an insole, and the insole might be designed for a particular shoe(like a replacement insole) or shoe type (like one for athletic shoes).

An orthotic is a specialized type of insole that provides arch support (at a minimum). Some orthotics also provide metatarsal support and a deep heel cup for stability. Orthotics, particularly custom orthotics prescribed by a podiatrist, are typically intended to relieve pain from conditions such as Plantar Fasciitis. Orthotics sold by shoe stores may not be customized to you, but may provide enough support in just the right places to make a difference in your quality of life. A good rule to follow: when in doubt, consult a podiatrist.

Given the myriad of insoles out there, the choices can be overwhelming. First, determine whether you have a high arch, low arch, or have flat feet. Then consider the type of shoes in which you want to use an insole. Finally, figure out what your overall goal is: do you just need extra arch support? Do you pronate or supinate? Do you want extra support for athletic endeavors? Do you want cushioning? Then you can narrow down the available options. Always read the product descriptions for each insole so you have the best chance of ordering what will suit you best!

If you are looking for an insole to add cushioning to your shoes, consider the insoles from Spenco. Generally, they are among the most cushy insoles around.  If shock absorption is what you need most, check out the green insoles, like the Full Length Arch Cushions, or the Comfort Slip In Insole. Walkers and runners should consider the Unisex Walker/Runner insole, since there is targeted shock absorption for rear foot impact. The PolySorb Cross Trainer Insole is great if you need an insole for other athletic endeavors (that might require lateral motion). It also contains outstanding shock absorption. Other types of orthotic needs can be addressed by the Full Length Orthotic Arch Supports; this model not only helps absorb shock, it also helps control the position of your feet.

Superfeet insoles are also very popular. Most of them have orthotic properties. The green ones are the most popular, and are intended for sneakers or other shoes with removable insoles. The blue version is meant for lower-profile shoes (i.e. shoes that do not have removable insoles). The orange and berry versions contain added rubbery materials on the bottom for additional shock absorption. The Black DMP contains a memory foam coating on the top that molds to your foot and adds outstanding cushioning and shock absorption. (It is also very durable.) The copper contains memory foam and the energy-enhancing properties of copper. These are just a few of the insoles that Superfeet makes; just be sure that the arch support hits your foot in the right place so you’ll obtain all the benefits intended.

The Aetrex/Lynco brand also has a wide variety of orthotic insoles. Again, it’s very important to read the product descriptions of each of these orthotics; the type you choose should conform to whether you have a high or low arch, whether need extra metatarsal support, whether you pronate, supinate, or have a neutral gait (meaning, do you need a posted orthotic), and what type of shoes and activities you need them for. Need extra support for dress shoes? Check out the L500 series. Need an orthotic for athletic shoes? The Lynco L400 series is designed for just that. How about an all-purpose orthotic for casual shoes? Try the L600 series. If your shoes do not contain removable insoles, the L1100 series is perfect for them. If you love memory foam, consider the L2200 series. And if you truly want to customize your own insole, try the L2400 series; you can remove pieces of the insole in assorted places to provide customized fit and comfort.

Vionic with Orthaheel technology actually began producing insoles prior to creating shoes. These insoles contain very good arch support. If you like how Vionic shoes feel, you’ll love how the insoles feel in other brands of shoes. These are particularly helpful due to their extra padding under the ball of the foot. I personally love these in my hiking boots. With five types of insoles to choose from, Vionic with Orthaheel Technology insoles can also give you several options.

Cork-based insoles mold to your feet for a custom fit. This is one reason why Birkenstock shoes and insoles have been popular for so many years. Birkenstock makes several types of insoles, including: the Blue, which has firm support, a deep heel cup, and a very pronounced arch support. It is intended for shoes containing up to a 1.5″ heel. The Birko Balance, which has a deep arch support and maximum shock absorption. This insole is 3/4 length. The Birko Natural is also a 3/4 length insole but differs from the Birko Balance by having a soft, suede footbed liner.

Pedag also makes a variety of insoles. Some are strictly for cushioning (like the Soft Insoles or Gel Insoles), while others are specialized (like those for dress shoes, or those with metatarsal pads built in).

This is just the tip of the insole iceberg, as it were.  The best way to determine what you need is to try them out. Read the product descriptions, talk to your podiatrist, and then see what feels good to your feet. Many vendors have a 30-day refund policy if a particular insole doesn’t work out for you! Don’t suffer with foot pain when an insole or orthotic can make a huge difference in the quality of your life. Check out the myriad options available at

Footwear etc. and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Ice Bucket Challenge

Footwear etc. was recently challenged by one of the companies it works with,, to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. We are happy to be called out to help this incredibly worthwhile charity, but have a huge constraint: here in California, we are experiencing a severe drought. Therefore, we cannot in good conscience advocate the potential waste of water by having any of our employees dump buckets of water over their heads (although it would have been great fun to watch!).

But we DO want to help. Therefore, we are making a donation to the ALS Association.  We also want to contribute to local charities, so we are making a donation to Sunnyvale Community Services, which supports low income families and senior citizens here in the city of our company headquarters. And since we’re a shoe company, we’re making a donation to – no individual should ever have to go without shoes because of lack of money. We feel very strongly about giving back to the community and helping support these valuable organizations.

If you’d like to donate to these worthy groups, click on the following:

als-association-logo-2sole4soulssunnyvale community services




And if you want to see celebrities doing the ice bucket challenge, go to

Keeping Your Feet Soft and Smooth

Gilden Tree Crystals

It’s easy to ignore how your feet look during the cold-weather months when you hide your feet in your shoes. But during warm weather, sandals keep your feet visible. If you want to keep your feet looking their best, you don’t have to have weekly pedicures. There are some procedures you can do at home to keep your feet looking and feeling their best, while spending minimal amounts of money on products. With a little care, you can greatly improve the health of your skin!

First, keep your feet clean. Wash your feet daily with a gentle soap, and dry them carefully. This is especially important for diabetics, or anyone with sensitive feet. One product that is great for diabetics as well as anyone else is the PediFix Diabetic Defense Daily Therapy Foot Wash. This outstanding product can be used every day, is gentle on the skin, and helps protect the skin from skin infections. If you have Athlete’s Foot, a product that can be very helpful is PediFix’s Funga Soap. Using this soap can help relieve itching and discomfort from Athlete’s foot, and helps soothe the skin.

It is easy to build up skin cells on your heels, and areas of your feet that rub against your shoes. Soaking your feet in a product such as Gilden Tree’s Revitalizing Foot Soak Crystals can help soften and moisturize your feet. This product contains sea salt as well as epsom salts, which are known to be helpful ingredients for your feet. It even helps detoxify your body!

Once you soak your feet, exfoliate that old, dry skin. You can use a pumice stone, or the Silk Feet Foot Exfoliator from PediFix. Get rid of that rough skin that looks unsightly, and can even catch on socks!

Once you have your feet smooth and exfoliated (or even if you haven’t exfoliated them), you need to moisturize them. There are a variety of products that can help keep your skin soft and smooth as they moisturize, such as the PediFix Deep Healing Foot Cream. This non-greasy cream adds vital nutrients to the skin, and you can feel a difference after even just one application! It can even help soften hard skin, like that which forms on your heels. The bonus perk is that it is gentle enough even for diabetics.

If you like aromatherapy, you’ll love the Foot Petals Pedi Fume Cooling Gel. It’s also designed to moisturize your feet, as well as provide cooling properties. It smells like vanilla and lavender, two scents that can help you relax. It also contains tea tree oil and cardamom, which help disinfect your feet and reduce odor. This gel goes on cool and helps your feet feel refreshed.

Sometimes wearing a sock with a moisturizer at night can be very helpful for keeping your feet hydrated and soft. You could put lotion or cream on your feet and then wear a sock to bed, or you could use a product like the Ralyn Night Care Gel Heel Sock. This product applies mineral oil directly to your heels, which softens tough skin. Use this product up to 3 times a week; it can make a huge difference in how your heels feel!

These are just a few products available to help make your feet feel soft and smooth. Check them out at!


How to Stretch Leather Shoes

Shoe Stretcher

We’ve all been there. You go and get some great new shoes, and after you wear them a couple of times, you realize that they are too tight. What can you do? You can stretch them out. How do you do this? You have a bunch of options.

One option is take the shoes to a professional. Any good shoemaker has a machine that will stretch your shoes. Just be sure to tell him exactly where the shoe feels tight so that the stretch can be customized for you. This generally takes a day or so and the cost is fairly minimal.

If you want to try to stretch your shoes at home, there are a variety of procedures you can follow. Try any of the following:

Invest in some shoe stretchers. This can be a cost-effective measure if your feet tend to swell and you experience this problem frequently. There are several options available at, such as the Four Seasons Professional Shoe Stretcher.

Wear the shoes around the house for a few days. Gradual stretching over time can sometimes make a difference. If your feet get uncomfortable, take the shoes off. This procedure might be enough to make a difference so that you can wear the shoes more often/out of the house.

Stuff the shoes with socks, and leave the socks in the shoes for a few days, or at a minimum overnight. You may notice a difference even within a day.

Heat the shoes. That’s right, heat them. Put your feet in the shoes, and then aim a hair dryer set to high heat on the spots that feel tight. Keep the heat on for 20-30 seconds, and remove your shoes from your feet once the shoes have cooled. This will loosen up the leather. You might also want to add a leather conditioner to the shoe after you complete the process, to restore any moisture you’ve depleted in the shoe.

Freeze the shoes. For shoes made of materials like canvas, you can put the entire shoe in the freezer. Why does freezing work? Water expands as it freezes. If you get your shoe wet and then put it in the freezer, the water will cause the shoe to expand. Once you take it out of the freezer and let it dry, your shoe should fit more loosely.

For leather shoes, do *not* put the entire shoe in the freezer. Instead, partially fill baggie with water and freeze that. Then insert the baggie (I would double bag anything containing water) into your shoes. Once the water thaws, remove the bag from the shoes and try them on. Do not try this method with expensive shoes!

Of course the best way to have proper fitting shoes is to make sure you get the correct size in the first place. Allow for some foot swelling when you make your purchases, particularly if you are buying a pair of heels or a pair of athletic shoes. Also consider shoes that stretch naturally, like those with elastic goring, or are completely stretchy such as Arcopedico shoes or Rock Spring shoes. Getting the footwear to fit correctly in the first place can alleviate the hassle of trying to stretch them out later.

The New MBT Shoes are Here!

MBT Hani

At long last, the new MBT shoes for Fall have arrived! These models have been greatly anticipated by customers, and these styles are sure to please! Customers with Plantar Fasciitis are especially looking forward to trying out these new styles. Let’s take a look at some of the new and exciting offerings now available for purchase:

Kesho Mary Jane – not exactly a new model, but new colors are available. It runs true to size, and if you have a wide foot, order 1 size up. This is one of the rare models that actually works well with wide feet. It’s a really versatile shoe, and looks great for the office as well as casual outings.

Kisiwa Chelsea 2 – at last, another bootie! It’s a slip-on style; the straps are purely decorative. But it’s adorable for the cool weather, and lends itself well to the workplace, dining out, or going out with friends. The straps may be decorative, but the elastic goring on the sides of the boot make the shoe easy to get on and off. The Kisiwa Chelsea 2 also runs true to size.

Afiya Lace or Slip On – this phenomenal athletic-style shoe is one of the best looking I’ve seen in a long time! It’s available in a variety of colors, including Scuba Blue, Navy/Lime Green, and my personal favorite: Pink/Dark Purple. The slip-on version is available in red/white or blue/lime. You’ll love walking and exercising in these shoes; not only do they look great, but the rocker sole will make the endeavor seem easy!

Pata – this is a great walking shoe that comes in a wide variety of colors. You can get it with a leather upper, a split-leather upper, or a nubuck upper, giving you many options for your wardrobe! This model runs true to size, and slightly narrow. If you are a half size, you might want to try a size up to see if it works better for you (it did for me). I think this style is incredibly versatile, see if you agree!

Hani – the ultimate dressy, “ballerina flat-style” shoe, but with MBT’s patented rocker sole. You can wear this shoe with dresses or with jeans, it’s THAT versatile. If you’ve been waiting for another shoe with uses like that of the Kianga, this is that shoe. But also like the Kianga, this shoe runs a full size LARGE. Really. Order down.

Elea 2 – another beautiful slip-on shoe. I particularly like to wear this shoe with slacks. I like the elegant design, it can go with anything! It’s true to size, but if you plan to wear thick socks, go up 1/2 a size.

Bititi – this elegant tall boot is great for cooler weather. The rich leather upper feels luxurious, and the rocker sole enables you to use this as a walking boot! It’s also really handy to have removable insoles, so if you need to add an orthotic, this boot allows you to do so! Just remember to measure your calves; the calf circumference of the boot is 15″.

Hanuni – you can never have too many sandals, and this one is highly adjustable. Available in red or black, let the Hanuni complement your wardrobe! I love the fact that the three hook and loop straps give you a custom fit. It’s also true to size, so be sure to order accurately.

These are just some of the new options available from MBT that are now available at What looks good to you?