Every pair of shoes you buy has the same problem - they're built to fit as many people as possible. And while that may not seem like a bad thing, when it comes to giving your feet the support they need, it is. Unless you're splurging for custom footwear, the shoes you're buying come with very little arch support, which can wreak havoc on your feet.
So, if the shoes you buy don't come with the right amount of arch support, you need to add it in. That's where things can start to get confusing.
We're clearing up the confusion around the different types of insoles you can buy, explaining which insoles are made for which purposes, and helping you figure out which is right for you.
Now that you’ve got the lingo down, it’s time to figure out the right insole for you.
Finding a great pair of shoes that don't offer much in the way of arch support isn't the end of the world. Flat shoes won't necessarily bother you, but they also won't provide the necessary support for all-day comfort.
In most cases, it makes sense to separate the function of the shoe from the function of the arch support insoles.
For many active people, good shoe insoles or orthotics can improve performance. Cyclists, skiers, tennis players, golfers, and other sports enthusiasts experience better control, more power, and enhanced comfort with the addition of quality inserts in their shoes.
But for those purchasing an insole for the first time, the options can be overwhelming. You're hit with lots of different pitches - add comfort, increase stability, reduce pain.
As Jamie Mieras, a Colorado podiatrist says, "There are a wide range of inserts, all the way from something to cushion your foot to something that's going to change how you land."
Most basically, an orthotic is any device inserted into a shoe that is designed to provide comfort and support for the foot. That seems like an easy answer, but there are many different types of inserts and insoles out there.
We divide them into two main categories: over-the-counter shoe inserts and custom orthotics (also known as orthopedic insoles).
The first category is over-the-counter or aftermarket shoe inserts. These mean exactly what their name implies. You get them after you buy your shoes. They are not prescription, and you don't need to go to a doctor or podiatrist to purchase them.
The most basic group of over-the-counter insoles are partial shoe inserts. Don't be fooled by the simple name, however. This category includes a wide range of products. And like all shoe inserts, the quality of the product varies widely. The most common partial shoe inserts include:
The second type of over-the-counter shoe inserts are full-length insoles. Like their partial insert counterparts, these insoles include an extensive range of products. Here are the main types:
Most podiatrists agree that arch-supporting insoles are key to providing comfort and preventing injury. But you can't go halfway with your support. As podiatrist Jamie Mieras says, "If you can press down the arch, it's not stable enough."
Unlike aftermarket shoe inserts, custom orthotics (also called orthopedic insoles), are inserts that have been prescribed by a doctor and constructed for your specific foot. There are two main types of custom-made shoe inserts:
Beware of mail-order custom orthotics that instruct you to take an impression of your foot in a box of compressible foam. With these kits, you make your own 3D model of your foot. The problem is that it takes a professional to create a 3D model that does not build in your biomechanical problem. These "custom" orthotics may not improve function.
People with diabetes, high-performing athletes, and people with serious biomechanical issues and reoccurring injuries will often benefit from orthopedic prescription insoles. But these more expensive options might not be the best choice for everyone.
While research has proven that shoe inserts can prevent injuries, scientists have not found a significant difference between over-the-counter shoe inserts versus custom orthotics. For many people, after-market insoles like Tread Labs work just as well as orthopedic insoles for a fraction of the price.
There is a huge array of insoles and orthotics available, with testimonials flying in every direction. If you’re looking for an economical solution that’s available over the counter, stick with firm, medical grade arch supports. You’ll get true biomechanical support, long-term comfort, pain relief, or enhanced performance in your favorite sports.
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For those of us who have put a lot of miles on over the years, insoles in our shoes are almost mandatory. After decades of walking on our feet, working on our feet, and abusing our feet, insoles are the only things that allow us to walk all day. But think about it, we didn’t have insoles when we were children. Which probably makes you wonder, do kids need insoles?
Say hello to Ramble, Pace and Dash – three new series of insoles from Tread Labs. Our new expanded product assortment is an evolution of the Stride insole. It is designed to meet the needs of 3 distinct customers. Those who are looking for comfort insoles, pain relief insoles, or performance insoles.