Tread Labs

Why Cushioned Insoles Don't Provide Long-Term Comfort

A Good Insole is Like a Good Mattress—Strong and Supportive

Tread Labs insoles support your body properly, like a Aeron Chair

Have you ever gone to a swanky hotel, flopped onto the bed, and felt like you had landed on a cloud? The crisp, linen sheets provide a thin covering over what seems like a marshmallow: a soft, squishy mattress that envelops you in warmth. The mountain of pillows only accentuates your feelings of bliss.

But after a couple of days of sleeping in your warm cocoon, you start waking up with a sore back. When you go on your morning run, you feel tight in places that you never knew existed. You question what had seemed like the most amazing sleep situation you had ever encountered. You begin longing for your firm mattress at home, with the one minimal pillow you use between your knees.

Don’t let the 1000-thread count and fancy bed coverings fool you. Your mattress needs to provide firm support that lasts. And so do your insoles.

Cushioned Insoles May Feel Like Heaven, But They Don’t Provide Support

Just as your mattress needs to provide long-lasting, firm support for your back, so do your insoles need to give structure and comfort to your feet. And long-term comfort for your feet comes from biomechanical support, not cushion. While a cushiony insole may feel great for a few days, it doesn’t correct the causes of feet pain or prevent biomechanical issues such as overpronation.

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. Cushion provides initial comfort. But these types of insoles actually perpetuate biomechanical problems that are at the root of foot pain.

The Experts Say Supportive Insoles Provide Long-Term Comfort

The San Diego-based biomechanist 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,” contends Stewart. In fact, Stewart argues that overly squishy insoles can exacerbate injuries.

Let’s explore the problems with cushioned insoles.

Cushioned Insoles Don’t Support Your Feet

There are two main reasons cushioned insoles don’t properly support your feet.
  1. Soft materials are not strong enough to provide arch support. While shock-absorbing materials such as gel or foam may seem to provide arch support, they are simply filling the space below your arch with material, not actually providing a strong foundation.
  2. Cushioned insoles don’t correct the biomechanical problems causing foot pain. Cushioned insoles allow your feet to move in the same manner as before. Thus they don’t address the cause of foot pain—and can’t correct it.

Choices like heat-moldable insoles may seem like a great choice, as they conform to your feet in a “custom” way. But remember when you sank into that soft bed? It might have felt nice at first, but it didn’t help correct your deep lumbar curve or pelvic imbalance. Heat-moldable insoles build improper biomechanics into the very structure of the insole trying to prevent those in the first place.

Orthotic Insoles Provide Strong, Lasting Support

Firm, supportive insoles that fit properly can correct for biomechanical problems, and provide support and relief. Podiatrists recommend supportive insoles. Here’s why.

  1. Firm insoles help avoid hip and knee pain. When the biomechanics of your feet are off-kilter, your knees and hips suffer. Firm, supportive insoles can improve alignment and correct pronation. Good insoles do this by giving your feet structure.
  2. Indestructible arch supports prevent foot ailments. Plantar fasciitis (the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick tissue that runs from the heel bone to the toes) is no joke. If you’re an avid athlete or your work requires you to stand for long periods, this injury can wreak havoc on your feet—and your sanity. A firm, orthotic insole supports the calcaneal shelf (a bone that resembles a shelf on the inside of your heel) and controls pronation.

Supportive Insoles Can Take Getting Used To

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. Right after getting new insoles, we recommend not wearing them all the time. Rather, we suggest you gradually break them in. It shouldn’t take too long for your feet to get used to your new insoles. And they’ll thank you for it.

To Provide Support, Your Insoles Need to Fit

Most importantly, firm, lasting support must be accompanied by proper fit. That’s why Tread Labs offers a large variety of sizes and arch heights. Our insoles come in lengths for men and women. You can choose between four different arch heights (graded in 3mm increments).

Our insoles will provide lasting support. Our arch supports are molded in polypropylene, and are guaranteed. Forever. When the top cover wears off, they can be easily replaced.

Give your feet the firm support they deserve and they will take you to places you have yet to imagine.

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