Regardless of whether you call them inserts, insoles or orthotics, you might be wondering if you should be adding arch support to your footwear. For many people, insoles have a significant positive impact on day-to-day life. But figuring out which insoles are right for you can be overwhelming.
For some people, answering the question “Do I need insoles?” is easy as counting to three. Maybe they’ve seen a podiatrist or other medical professional who has recommended wearing insoles. Or, perhaps after having foot pain for a while, they’ve done plenty of research that points them in the direction of shoe inserts.
But for others, the answer isn’t as clear-cut. You may not be experiencing foot pain, but instead you have feet that feel fatigued or tired. After putting in lots of time standing or walking, you’re thinking it’s normal to need to take a load off at the end of the day. You might be a cyclist who gets hot spots during your rides, and you’re just not sure what you could do to keep them from showing up and shortening your miles. Could insoles help?
According to Mercy Health, some common reasons to wear arch support insoles include:
Even if these reasons don't apply to you, you can still benefit from adding insoles to your footwear. Whether you have flat feet or extra-high arches, your feet need arch support to comfortably take you where you want to go – whether that is for a daily walk in the park or a ultra-marathon across the desert.
While there are lots of different reasons for people to wear insoles, the most basic is that orthotic inserts give your arches the support they truly need. Support that your shoes just don’t offer.
Grab your favorite pair of shoes and, if there’s an insert in them, pull it out. Feel along the bottom of the shoe, right where your arch goes. It’s flat, right? There’s a reason for that.
Footwear companies have an unwritten rule they live by when it comes to making their shoes. They all build in the least amount of arch support. Unless you’re buying custom or specialty shoes, you’re getting footwear that has minimal arch support. That’s because the companies making your shoes want them to fit as many people as possible, no matter your arch height.
Since your shoes aren’t supporting your arches, your feet end up paying the price. You might be surprised at the difference adding arch support insoles to your shoes makes for your feet. That fatigued, tired feeling isn’t a part of life anymore or those hot spots you get when you’re out for a long ride are a thing of the past.
By supporting your arches properly, you:
Before you do anything else, you’ll need to figure out your arch height. This is important because when you’re considering insoles, you want find ones that mimic the contours of your feet. A low arch insole won’t do any good for an extra-high arched foot. To determine your arch height, try this quick and easy method.
Second, ask yourself what you need your insoles to do. Are you in agony from plantar fasciitis and need pain relief insoles? Are you an athlete looking to optimize your biomechanics for your best performance? Or are you someone whose feet feel okay, but you know they could feel a lot better? Insoles are made with different levels of firmness and cushioning in order to accommodate the different reasons people wear them.
Finally, consider the type of shoe you’ll be putting your insoles in.
Once you’ve removed the factory insert (if there is one), you can compare the length of it to the length of your insole. Sometimes insoles need to be trimmed to fit your shoe. If that’s the case, you can use the factory insert as a trim guide.
If you’ve given yourself time to get used to your new insoles but they don’t feel right, you might need to make some adjustments. If it feels like there’s a golf ball sitting in the arch of your shoe, you’re probably wearing an insole that’s too high for your arch. Conversely, if it feels like there’s room between your arch and the curve of the insole, you’re probably wearing an insole that’s too low for your arch.
Once you’ve found the right insole, you’ll wonder how your feet went so long without proper arch support. You’ll feel the decrease in foot fatigue or pain and be surprised at how much farther you’ll be able to go with one small change that makes a big difference.
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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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