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How Do I Know If I Need Insoles

2024-04-11

How Do I Know If I Need Insoles?

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Insoles (or orthotics, to use the technical term) are padded or cushioned inserts that fit inside your shoe (or both shoes) to bring extra comfort. But the comfort doesn't just apply to your feet – if you have a problem with your feet, it can often manifest itself in heel pain or trouble with ankles, calves, pelvis and even your back, and the right insoles can help more than you might expect.

We have to point out a very important fact before we continue. Problems with your feet, such as flat feet, plantar fasciitis, or pain higher up your legs or back, are not things you can diagnose yourself. If you're suffering any such pain, it's important that you see your doctor or a chemist, who might refer you to a foot care specialist, known as a podiatrist, to diagnose the problem properly.

Left to your own devices, you might try shoe insoles that make the problem worse, for example, arch support insoles when the problem is with your heel. It might even turn out that the problem isn't with your feet, but with your shoes. In the UK, podiatry consultations are free on the NHS, and your occupational insurance should cover it too – it's not an uncommon complaint.

Signs you may need insoles

Your podiatrist will be able to properly advise you on arch support insoles, full-length orthotics and so on, depending on the specifics of your condition, and that could cure your pain or posture issues overnight. Alternatively, you might just need to put your feet up for a while or buy self-adhesive off-the-shelf comfort insoles. Some symptoms and conditions to look out for include:

  • Flat feet – where there's no noticeable arch between heel and ball

  • Sudden, sharp heel or arch pain – often caused by standing for long periods

  • Balance issues – it's worth having this looked at, as it could be down to feet, but possibly inner ear issues or vertigo

  • Left and right shoes wear out unevenly – most people's shoes wear out at the same time, but if one sole is going more quickly, it could signal a problem in one of your feet

  • Diabetes – this can often cause foot problems that can be alleviated with shoe inserts

  • Gout – a sharp joint pain that usually occurs in the big toe

General-purpose insoles

Medical needs aside, there are simply times when you just want a little extra comfort in your boots, and in such cases, you are free to use insoles. For example, if the padding that came with the boot has worn out but the footwear is still fine, why not just replace the comfort insole? Perhaps the shoes are just a little too big – insoles can fill the gap. Or maybe you're going to be on your feet a lot or are going hiking; again, if you fit insoles, it might prevent foot pain after a few hours of activity.

You can also get sports insoles made of foam or gel that provide extra cushioning and shock absorption for impact and offer additional support. Sorbothane double strike insoles are particularly useful if you're running or playing high impact sports like tennis.

Start with quality footwear

If your boots are uncomfortable, you're almost certainly going to end up with foot pain. That's why it's a good idea to only buy quality footwear made with great materials and a high level of craftsmanship. You owe it to your feet and your back, so why not step up to quality?