When you're shopping for insoles to make your feet feel better, you have enough options to make your head spin. Insoles run the gamut when it comes to firmness, so if you're left wondering which you should select to relieve your feet, you're not alone.
Think about your insoles the way you think about a mattress. You count on your mattress to provide long-lasting firm support for your back. While the super-soft, cushioned mattresses out there feel great for a night, sleeping on them for more than that will leave you with an aching back.
It's the same with insoles. You need firm support to give structure and comfort to your feet, and cushioned insoles just can't provide that. Like the cushy mattress, they might feel great for a few days, but they don't correct the causes of foot pain or prevent bio-mechanical issues such as overpronation. Properly fitting, firm, supportive insoles can correct for bio-mechanical problems, and provide support and relief.
Imagine your bed again. Let’s say you have a deep lumbar curve (an overarching of the lower back). Resting on a soft mattress provides initial comfort to low back pain by providing relief. But it doesn’t help support your back in the long run. In fact, it actually accentuates issues with your spine by allowing the body to resort to old postures.
A firm mattress, on the other hand, provides the structural support for your back to rest in a neutral position. Insoles work in the same way. Cushioned insoles provide initial comfort. But these types of insoles actually perpetuate biomechanical problems that are at the root of foot pain.
San Diego-based bio-mechanist Doug Stewart, Ph.D., maintains that support and not comfort should be the main criteria for choosing insoles. “You want something stiff that will support the arch and be complimentary to the ligaments, fascia and tendons of the foot,” says Stewart. In fact, Stewart argues that overly squishy insoles can exacerbate injuries.
There are two main reasons cushioned insoles don’t properly support your feet.
As you've been shopping around, you've probably seen heat-moldable insoles. While they may seem like a great choice because they conform to your feet in a “custom” way, they actually build in the biomechanical issue you're having into the insole. Which means you can't prevent it from happening and continuing to cause foot issues.
Firm, supportive insoles that fit properly can correct for biomechanical problems, and provide support and relief for sore, painful feet. Podiatrists recommend supportive insoles. Here’s why.
Just like a new, firm mattress, supportive insoles can take some breaking in. Insoles provide your feet the support they need. And they correct underlying biomechanical problems. This structure can feel different at first.
When you first get your new insoles, you'll be tempted to start wearing them all the time. For some people, it takes no time getting used to them. But for others, gradually breaking them in will be key. Having the patience to wear them for a longer period of time each day will ultimately payoff with comfortable, pain-free feet.
Most importantly, firm support that works must fit properly. The arch support of your insole should contour to the curves of your feet. Extra high arches just won't get the support they need from an insole designed for a low arch. And a person with low arches will probably find a high arch insole uncomfortable.
Make sure to get a proper fit from your insole for long-term relief. Remember, feet are not one size fits all, and neither are insoles. Find the ones that fit your feet best and provide firm support and you'll be surprised at how far you can go!
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