Hands holding a foot on a bed.

Debunking Myths: Are Insoles Bad for Your Feet?

by Mark Paigen 5 minute read

Orthotic insoles often get a bad rap, but are insoles bad for your feet? This blog explores common misconceptions about insoles and reveals the benefits they can offer.

The Basics: TL;DR ---

  • Myth: Insoles weaken your feet. Truth: Studies show that muscles actually become stronger when insoles are used.
  • Myth: Insoles should be comfortable on the first day. Truth: Some insoles may require a break-in period for optimal comfort.
  • Myth: Softer insoles are better. Truth: Firm insoles with semi-rigid arch support will do a better job improving alignment and stability.
  • Myth: Insoles are only for athletes or people with foot pain. Truth: Insoles can benefit everyone, promoting foot health and preventing future issues.

What You Need To Know---

Properly fitted insoles can be a valuable investment in your foot health and overall well-being. Contrary to popular misconceptions, they don't weaken your feet, and offer much more than just pain relief. They can help address biomechanical issues, prevent injuries, and improve your performance in various activities.

What are the problems of using orthotic insoles? Poorly fitted, overly soft insoles can be detrimental to foot health, but properly fitted, firm supportive insoles can significantly improve foot health.

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Table of Contents

    Debunking Myths About Insoles

    Whether you're an athlete pushing your limits or an avid weekend hiker, foot health is crucial for maintaining an active lifestyle. However, many people suffer from foot pain and discomfort, often leading them to seek solutions like orthotic insoles. Unfortunately, these supportive insoles are often shrouded in misconceptions, with some believing they can weaken your feet or cause you continual pain and discomfort.

    But are these concerns justified? Are there any dangers connected with arch support in shoes?  In this blog, we'll debunk these common myths and reveal the benefits of properly fitted insoles. We'll delve into the differences between soft and firm insoles and we'll explore why you may want to invest in quality insoles.

    Myth #1: Insoles Weaken Your Feet

    One of the most prevalent myths surrounding insoles is that they weaken your feet over time. This misconception often stems from the idea that relying on external support will make your muscles lazy and atrophy. However, scientific studies consistently show that muscles actually become stronger with insole use. 

    Sideview anatomy of a foot and ankle

    Properly designed and fitted insoles provide crucial support and alignment for your feet, enhancing their natural biomechanics. This support helps:

    • Improve muscle function. Podiatrist, Dr. Douglas Richie, states, "Researchers have measured that foot orthoses actually cause positive trends in muscle activity during gait." He goes on to say, "Findings suggest that when patients with flat arches wear foot orthoses, muscle function improves to mirror patterns that occur in feet with normal arches."
    • Reduce strain on your muscles and tendons. By correcting imbalances and misalignment, insoles allow your muscles to work more efficiently and prevent fatigue and overuse injuries.
    • Improve muscle activation. A study by Barnamehei et. al (2019) found that walking with orthotic insoles activates more muscles than walking barefoot.

    Insoles don't weaken your foot muscles; they simply help them function optimally. Without proper support, your feet can become overworked and your muscles can become strained, limiting function.

    Myth #2: Insoles Should Be Comfortable on the First Day

    In reality, it may take some time for your feet to adapt to the new arch support provided by high-quality insoles. This is especially true for insoles designed with firm, semi-rigid arch support and deep heels cups. 

    This "break-in" period typically lasts a week or two. During this time, you may experience some minor discomfort or stiffness. However, as your feet adjust, the insoles will feel more comfortable and provide the support you need.

    Here are some tips for minimizing discomfort during the break-in period:

    • Start slow. Start by wearing the insoles for short periods and gradually increase the wear time.
    • Supportive shoes. Wear the insoles with shoes that are well-fitting and supportive.
    • Rest. Take breaks throughout the day to give your feet a rest.
    • Trouble-shoot. If you've gradually increased your wear time over a couple weeks and you're continuing to experience discomfort, read 'Why Are My Insoles Hurting My Feet?'

    Remember, once the break-in period is over, high-quality insoles can offer a world of difference in comfort and support for your feet.

    Myth #3: Softer Insoles are Better

    While soft gel and foam inserts might feel comfortable initially, it's crucial to find the right balance between support and cushioning. Excessively soft insoles can actually be detrimental, offering insufficient support and leading to further foot problems.

    What are the negatives of insoles? Overly soft insoles can cause improper alignment negatively impacting your foot health in the long-run.  Insoles that fit poorly, with arch supports that are either too high or too low for your specific needs, can make foot pain worse rather than better.

    We recommend insoles that have:

    • Firm, semi-rigid arch support for balance and stability.
    • Deep heel cups for effective shock absorption.
    • Foam top covers for comfort.

    The ideal insole will offer a balance of both support and cushioning.

    “The semi-rigid device provides the strong support for your feet, but does move slightly under the body weight of your feet. This allows your foot to absorb shock during your activities," writes Certified Canadian Pedorthist, Reza Sands

    Consider your activity level when choosing an insole – high-performance activities require the more rigid support offered by our Dash Insole. Tread Labs insoles come in 4 different arch heights for a semi-custom fit. Find your perfect pair and enjoy a 90-day Fit Guarantee.


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    Myth #4: Insoles Are Only for Athletes or People with Foot Pain.

    While athletes and individuals experiencing foot pain can benefit significantly from insoles, they also offer a range of advantages for anyone seeking to improve their overall well-being.

    Woman walking a dog in a forest.

    Here's how insoles benefit everyone:

      • Improved comfort. Insoles provide additional shock absorption and support, reducing fatigue and discomfort during daily activities, especially for those who stand or walk for extended periods.
      • Enhanced performance. Insoles can optimize foot function, leading to improved balance, stability, and athletic performance for individuals of all activity levels.
      • Proactive foot care. Insoles can be used proactively to address early signs of foot problems, potentially preventing them from developing into more serious issues.
      • Better overall well-being: Improved foot health and comfort can positively impact overall well-being, mood, and energy levels.

    Whether you're an athlete, an office worker, or simply someone who wants to feel their best, insoles can offer a valuable tool for enhancing your foot health and overall well-being.


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