What Insole Is Best?
There are a ton of different reasons to buy arch support insoles for your shoes. It could be that you’re experiencing chronic foot pain and want relief; maybe you need an insole specialized for high-impact sports like basketball or running; you might be looking to replace an old pair that’s worn out. Choosing the right arch support insole can be a daunting task because there are so many reasons to need insoles and so many options available. This guide is here to help you determine how to find the best arch support insoles for you.
Things To Know While Buying New Insoles
If you’re buying a new arch support insole, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
The size of an insole is usually marked as a range of shoe sizes. For example, women’s size 7-9 or men’s size 9-11. The size is indicated as a range because insoles are designed to be trimmed to fit. The larger size is the maximum shoe size it will fit into, and if your foot is smaller, you’re expected to trim down the edges.
The lower end of the size range is indicated because trimming too much of the insole will reduce its effectiveness, so it’s important to buy the right size. If you’re between sizes (insoles come in 6-8 and 9-11), it’s best to size up.
Most shoes come with insoles in them. While they’re usually not specialized for arch support or any other corrective function, you’ll need to remove the original insole from your shoe before replacing it. While some very thin insoles can be comfortably worn over your old ones, most are designed as full replacements.
Your Foot Arch
There are three different types of foot arches: neutral or medium, low or fallen arches, and high arches. Every insole is designed to work with one of these types of arch. The first step is to identify your type of foot arch (more on how to do that below) and only shop for insoles that fit that type of arch. Wearing an insole that’s not designed for your arch type can be painful!
Your Footbed Type
As a general rule, insoles and orthotic arch support come in four different footbed designs: rigid, semi-rigid, cushioned, and no arch support. Which type you need depends entirely on the reason you’re buying the insole.
Insoles can be made from gel, foam, cork, or leather. Each material has different advantages, and what you choose is mostly based on preference. Foam is best for cushioning and support; gel provides good shock absorption; cork provides support, but less cushion; leather provides cushion and a more comfortable feel, especially for shoes worn barefoot or with thin socks, such as dress shoes.
How To Determine Your Foot Arch Type
As stated above, there are three different types of foot arches. Determining which one you have will help you choose the best arch support insoles.
Normal Or Medium Arch
If the middle part of your foot arch is half filled, you have a normal arch. It naturally supports your body weight and pronates under normal load conditions.
Flat Or Low Arch
If your footprint looks like a complete foot rather than two halves, you have a flat foot. Low arches can contribute to muscle stress and joint problems when not adequately supported. Shock absorption and stabilization are important qualities for arch support for those with flat arches.
If your footprint is barely visible, you probably have a high arch. People with high arches chronically have trouble getting their feet into pull-on boots, as their feet don’t slide in well. The impact of having high arches is that they don’t absorb shock very well. High impact activities like jumping or running can cause knee and hip pain as a result.
Cushioning and shock absorption from gel insoles can help support high arches and compensate for the lack of natural shock absorption.
Reasons To Buy Arch Support Insoles
There are a few common reasons for buying insoles, and it’s important to make sure you buy the right insole for your purpose.
Plantar Fasciitis Or Arch Pain
If you’re seeking relief for arch pain or plantar fasciitis, you need orthotic arch support with lots of cushioning. Foam is the best material with a rigid or semi-rigid footbed. If it’s your first time using insoles, a semi-rigid arch support is less aggressive while still providing flexibility, support, and comfort. If you’ve worn orthotics before, rigid footbeds provide a stronger support option.
Pronation refers to the foot’s inward roll when you take a step, and it is completely natural. Over-pronation, however, causes the foot to roll too far inwards and leads to foot pain. A semi-rigid or rigid arch support can help keep your foot supported and aligned in order to naturally correct this problem.
Anyone who spends long periods of time on their feet is bound to suffer from a certain amount of foot pain. A cushioned arch support can relieve some of the pressure and keep your foot supported throughout the day. Foam insoles work best for this purpose.
A burning or sharp pain caused by a compressed nerve in the forefoot is called Morton’s Neuroma. For this condition, you will need a metatarsal pad that can be inserted into a cushioned insole with an insert.
Metatarsalgia Or Ball-Of-Foot Pain
If you suffer from pain in the ball of your foot, you should choose an insole with a cushioned arch support in either semi-rigid or rigid varieties.
Running Or Shin Splints
Avid walkers or runners often suffer from shin splints and require both flexible support and shock absorption. A cushioned arch support or semi-rigid insole made of gel is the best option for pain relief and reducing foot and knee impact.
Heel Spurs And Heel Pain
An insole with extra cushioning and padding at the heel can help take pressure off your foot. Products that help with heel pain range from full inserts, ¾ length inserts, and even heel pads.