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.
Since the shoes you're buying don't come with the arch support your feet need to be comfortable and pain-free, you need to add it in. There's a ton of different options available to suit different needs, and making sure you select the right one is really important. We'll walk you through the different types of insoles and what they're used for so you can find the best insole for you.
Now that you’ve got the lingo down, it’s time to figure out the right insole for you.
We've all been there. When you finally find the right pair of shoes and you try them on only to find they don't offer much in the way of arch support. It can be pretty frustrating, but it certainly isn't the end of the world.
While flat shoes won't necessarily bother you or cause injury, they won't provide the necessary support for all-day comfort. And if you're already dealing with certain foot issues like plantar fasciitis, they'll only exacerbate the pain.
But there's an easy way to make those great shoes into the most comfortable pair you own. All it takes is a quality pair of arch support insoles or inserts. When you're thinking about what kind of insoles you need, 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 and you don't need to go to a doctor or podiatrist to purchase them. These types of inserts come in a short-length and a full-length.
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.
Now that you know about all the different types of insoles available to you, it's time to sort out which one is best suited to your needs. Should you buy an over-the-counter insole or do you need to see a podiatrist to get a custom orthotic?
When it comes to custom orthotics, you want to be sure you really need them as they're quite expensive and not typically covered by health insurance. Who should be getting custom orthotics? People with diabetes, high-performing athletes, and people with serious biomechanical issues and reoccurring injuries.
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.
That said, deciding which over-the-counter insole is best for you can be made easy by asking yourself the right questions.
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.
Questions? Drop us a line at email@example.com. We're here to help.
Mark has always believed exceptional footwear can change lives. He's been in the footwear industry for over 30 years, working with podiatrists, pedorthists, foot care experts, and footwear makers. Mark started Chaco sandals in 1989 and developed a game-changing sport sandal that delivered comfort and durability. After Chaco sold in 2009, Mark ultimately started Tread Labs to continue transforming people's footwear so they can walk better, feel better, live better.
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