Do you need a little extra support in your favorite boots? UGG boots are incredibly comfortable, but they lack arch support which can wreak havoc on your feet. But, there’s an easy fix - adding a pair of insoles with arch support can transform your UGG boots, taking them to the next level of boot bliss.
Surfers on the west coast of Australia started wearing this style of shearling boots long before they found their way to the States. Nothing felt better on their feet after a day on the waves. The style’s popularity grew slowly in the surf and beach scene of southern California during the '80s and '90s, then gained widespread popularity in the early ‘00s. Since then, they have become a staple for women (and a few men). Mostly worn in cool weather, their supreme comfort has generated tremendous brand loyalty.
UGG boots are lined with natural wool insulation, which is both more comfortable than synthetic insulation and incredibly warm. Their sheepskin uppers breathe well, so your feet don't get sweaty. The boot also comes with soft, flexible outsoles, which provide extra cushioning and insulate your feet from the cold ground. Few pieces of footwear feel so good to put on when your feet are cold.
More recently, UGG has branched out into new styles that are quite different from the original shearling boots. They now range from insulated to more lightweight. Some are now waterproof. Luckily, many still feature natural sheepskin as insulation.
Despite the incredible warmth and initial comfort the boots provide on a cold winter day, they provide little-to-no support for your feet. In fact, traditional UGG sheepskin boots have no arch support at all. They are fine for lounging around the house, but not so comfortable for walking or standing for longer periods. While the company says it has never had complaints of foot pain after nearly 30 years of quality craftsmanship, some physicians beg to differ.
Dr. Rock Positano, of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, says that UGGs "may feel cushiony; [they] may feel comfortable, but it doesn't mean [people are] getting the necessary arch support that a foot needs to function effectively."
One of the most common problems podiatrists and physicians see with UGGs is in relation to people with flat feet.
When you have flat feet, the entire bottom of your foot (the sole) touches the ground when you’re standing. Flat feet often occur when your arches don’t develop properly as you’re growing up or if you overpronate. They can also develop as you age or after a foot injury. For women, pregnancy can cause flat feet.
While having flat feet does not necessarily mean you will experience pain, some common consequences include:
Flat-footed people need shoes that provide structure and support. Loose-fitting boots like UGGs won't stop your ankle from rolling inward (pronating). Moreover, the lack of support may exacerbate the tendency of your arches and tendons to collapse. Set both your UGG boots on the ground. Look at them from behind. Do the boots look like they are bending inwards? If so, your foot is overpronating.
Dr. Krista Archer, a podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon in Manhattan, worries about UGG's spaciness in the ankles and heels, as it allows your ankles to twist and roll in or out.
And, as Dr. Positano posits, a lack of support in your shoes leads to "overuse, meaning the muscles, the tendons, the ligaments, and the bones in the foot and the ankle overwork," he said. "A recent study just came out that showed the correlation between a flat arch, and problems with the knee, the hip, and the back."
The best insoles for flat feet will fully support your arch and stabilize your heel to concentrate the fatty pad underneath your heel bone. This will both prevent overpronation and provide firm support. Typically, the best insoles for flat feet will have a low but supportive arch. However, you should try different heights to determine which one will adequately support your feet.
But if you have high or medium arches, UGG boots still don't provide enough support for your foot. It may take a little longer to develop foot pain, but without proper structure in the shoe, your arches will suffer – no matter the height.
Don't think you need to swear off your UGGs just to have the necessary support your feet need. Most physicians will tell you that by adding over-the-counter insoles – particularly inserts with strong arch support – you can continue to wear your UGGs without any problem.
To ensure your feet are getting the support they deserve, all you need to do is find a pair of insoles that work for you.
For women, the following boots have removable insoles:
For men, the following styles have removable insoles:
If you are buying your UGG boots online and are still unsure if the model you like has removable insoles, scroll down to the "details" section of the page. If the words "removable/replaceable insole" or "removable contoured insole" appear, then that model has insoles you can take out.
If you already own a pair of boots, see if the insoles come out. If they do, you'll have a few more options, as you can replace them with insoles of your choosing:
There is no reason to give up your UGG boots just because you need more support. Just adding a pair of insoles will make some of the most comfortable shoes out there even more comfortable all winter long.
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