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How to Choose the Right Insoles or Shoe Inserts?

When your feet have blisters, aches, pains or general discomfort, it’s time to upgrade your life with shoe insoles. You’ll find basic shoe inserts, orthopedic shoe inserts and even shoe inserts for flat feet.

There’s something for most foot conditions.

But, how can you choose the best insoles? That’s the tricky part. The best insoles for flat feet may not be the best insoles for running.

You need to make a strategic decision when choosing your insoles, and this means really knowing the ins-and-outs of inserts.

What Type of Insoles Are Available?

The best shoe inserts are the ones that tackle the root cause of your foot problem or condition. “Support” insoles may provide the comfort and added support to alleviate pain and discomfort.

You may also choose orthotic inserts that are more specialized.

Insoles should be chosen for a particular foot condition whenever possible, and this means for:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Misalignment
  • Flat feet
  • Arch issues
  • Supination
  • Over-pronation

Your typical insole, those you’ll find in stores, are not going to be customized to your foot. But, these insoles will be designed for treating a common issue. While not exactly made for your foot, this means that the right insole will often provide relief because it’s designed to fit most foot shapes.

There’s quite a bit of information that goes into your overall choice, but you’ll want to try and better understand what these common issues can cause to happen:

  • Plantar fasciitis is the actual tear in your plantar fascia, or the tissue that connects the forefoot to the heel.
  • Misalignment is a major issue that is a result of the foot being misaligned. When a foot is not properly aligned, it will lead to pain in your head, back, ankles, knees and even your neck – not to mention general, overall foot pain.
  • Supination is an issue when the foot tends to roll outward, causing potential injury to the ligaments and tendons in the foot.
  • Pronation is the opposite of supination, or the rolling inward of the foot when running or walking.

Arch issues or flat feet are also painful foot conditions, and these will cause general foot and ankle discomfort when walking, running or engaging in activity of most kinds.

If you have more general foot pain and discomfort, a conventional pain-relieving insole may help, such as the MindInsole, which we’ve reviewed in the past.

Anyone that’s having a common issue that they’re sure about, such as flat feet, try and purchase insole for flat feet – they exist. Some insoles are a general catch-all, meaning that the insoles will help with overall foot pain and try to correct a few issues at once.

But if you have flat feet or plantar fasciitis, as an example, you’ll be able to find shoe inserts that will target these conditions. The benefit of a direct targeting of these issues is that the insole is designed specifically for the condition.

You’ll find greater overall pain relief from an insole designed for your condition than with a general insole.

The best shoe insoles will offer a lot of cushioning and added comfort for the foot. So, keep this in mind when you have general discomfort, but the condition is mild and not too intense.

Choose the Right Volume

Volume will have a lot to do with your overall comfort. You might think that the best boot insoles are going to be thicker, but if the top of the boot is too low, you’ll find that there’s a lot of pressure put on the top of your foot.

Thin insoles, in this scenario, tend to work the best and will provide far more comfort than high-volume insoles.

You’ll find that the following insole volumes are the most common:

  1. High-volume. Your high-volume insoles will be best for intense use, such as running or hiking. These models will provide the best support for someone that has high arches.
  2. Medium-volume. A great choice, medium-volume insoles will work well with a variety of arch types and will fit in athletic and casual shoes.
  3. Low-volume. Ideal for low-volume shoes, these shoe inserts will fit perfectly in your cycling shoes or skate boots. They work great for anyone suffering from a low arch.

Again, you’ll want to examine your own shoe to see what the added thickness will offer you. Oftentimes, the added thickness may be too much for low profile shoes, and this is why we recommend the thin inserts for these shoes.

Insole Material

Insole material will matter, too. You’ll find a lot of creative material options, and we have a great overview of the differences between gel and foam insoles . There are a lot of material options, and these may include:

  • Gel – great for shock absorption
  • Wool – ideal for insulation
  • Foam – soft and helps retain foot shape

You’ll also find insoles that have heat-moldable insoles that will conform to your foot’s shape over time. Heavy-duty, kid’s and other insole types do exist. But in general, you’ll come across gel or foam inserts.

Which one is right for you? Be sure to read our article linked in the first paragraph of this section to find out.

Other Things to Consider

Insoles are different for everyone. Some people like one type, and another person may dislike them. It’s really preferential and dependent on your foot condition. A few additional things you’ll want to consider when choosing your shoe insert are:

  • Sizing. Proper sizing is a must, but you’ll often find size ranges. The ranges exist because most insoles are designed to be trimmed, so you can trim them to your shoe size.
  • Placement. Some insoles are meant to be placed on top of your shoe’s existing insole, while others are not.
  • The arch is very important, and you’ll want to pay close attention to the arch type. Browse insoles that match your arch’s condition (neutral / medium, low, fallen or flat feet, and high arches).
  • Material. Read up on the advantages of the material you choose. Most people choose gel or foam, but there may be a better option for you.

Do your research when choosing an insole – it will help you make a better choice for your feet.

August 20, 2018


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