Insoles are designed to put the foot into a better position, which alleviates pain. If you have a muscle strain, a properly chosen orthotic will do some of the muscle’s work for it, reducing its workload and bringing some relief.
However, there is a negative side effect of this. When you brace your foot, it may improve things for the better, but in doing so it negates the need for many of the muscles in the foot to do anything. The worry here is that if you don’t use these muscles they will start to weaken.
What You Should Know Before You Buy
Shoe inserts may be useful as a short-term solution, but it’s not exactly clear how to choose inserts that work since there is no way to predict the effect of a specific orthotic. The reason for this is because so many factors come into play when determining which orthotic will work best for a specific person. For example, even if two people are similar in weight, foot structure, and gait, it doesn’t mean that they will both respond in the same way to the same orthotic.
Let’s say that two people are pronate and are given an insert that pushes the foot away from a pronated position, or rotated excessively outward. You’d probably expect it to have the same effect on both people, but most of the time it doesn’t.
One might respond by increasing the stress on the outside of their foot, while the other might increase the stress on the inside of their foot, or not at all.
In other words, an insole cannot be guaranteed to work properly as everyone is so variable. Orthotics can do amazing things for people, but not everyone. Just bear this in mind when you’re trying on insoles.
1. Superfeet Performance Insoles ($50)
These best-selling shoe inserts help to reduce pronation and increase arch support. They are not cheap, but they are sturdy and will last a long time. They have been designed to hold the heel in alignment and therefore reduce strain on ankles, knees, hips, and lower back.
2. Spenco Arch Supports ($23)
Spenco make a wide range of arch supports and inserts that help reduce pronation and provide additional support for those with high arches or flat feet. They help to relieve foot pain, and may help the foot stay in a neutral position.
3. Metatarsal Pads ($13)
These pads fit under the ball of the foot and decrease pressure on the metatarsal bones. This is helpful for who love hiking and have pain in the midfoot.
4. Dr. Scholls Insoles (Wide Range of Prices)
Dr. Scholls are popular when it comes to insoles as they have such a wide variety of sizes that there’s something for everyone. The gel insoles are popular among cyclists and runners as they provide simple comfort.
5. Gel Heel Cup (Wide Range of Prices)
These cups are usually prescribed by physical therapists to reduce the symptoms of foot pain, heel pain, and plantar fasciitis. They cushion the heel and raise it slightly which decreases the stress on the plantar fascia.
6. New Balance Insoles (Wide Range of Prices)
These inserts are great for running footwear. You need to decide if you need motion control, cushioning, or stability first, and then select your replacement insert. If you actually go to one of their stores, they will measure your foot and gait in order to find the best insert for you.