There are plenty of myths and misconceptions about insoles. Sometimes, with all of the myths milling around out there, insoles can get a bad reputation. While some of these myths simply have eroded due to improvements and research over time, others were never based in fact from the start. Here we dive into the most common misconceptions we hear.
MYTH 1: insoles are only for 'old people'.
NO. Insoles are not just for ‘old people’ or those who must wear 'ugly' orthopaedic shoes. Regardless of age, foot problems can affect anyone. Painful arches, heel pain and bunions are but a few. Pain related conditions such as arthritis or diabetes can affect anyone. Such conditions may benefit from insoles.
MYTH 2: insoles are for people with foot pain.
NO. While shoe insoles certainly do help many people overcome foot pain, that is not the only reason to wear them. Nature gave our bodies the perfect pattern to deal with movement, especially agility moves like running and jumping. The body works together as a chain of muscles, ligaments and bones. When one part is misaligned it throws the whole system out of whack. Through realigning the placement of the feet, shoe insoles have been shown to help with pain and inflammation in the knees, hips and lower back. So the next time you experience problems with one of those joints, make sure your feet aren’t the true culprits!
MYTH 3: insoles are only made for daily shoes.
NO. While the majority of insoles are made to be used in daily shoes, some insoles are designed to work in an athletic shoe.
MYTH 4: you need insoles for 'flat feet'.
NO. Not all people with 'flat feet' need insoles. Some people have naturally low arches. Generally if your feet are pain free then you won’t need insoles regardless of whether you have 'flat feet'. Your first step should be to check your shoes. Make sure you wear shoes with some structure and support to them. You should consult with your foot expert if you have any pain or discomfort in your feet. They will assess what the root cause of your problem is.
MYTH 5: when it comes to shoe insoles, the softer the better.
NO. Completely soft insoles are not only ineffective, but they actually “pamper the problem”. Initially you will love the feeling of slipping your foot into a shoe with a soft, cushioned insole, but in reality those types of insoles might not help to fix the root problem: misalignment of the feet and bad posture.
MYTH 6: orthotics make your feet weak and you may become dependent on them.
Foot experts are commonly asked ‘do orthotics weaken your feet?’. Let’s use the analogy of eyeglasses when discussing this with patients. Insoles work like eyeglasses. They only work while you are wearing them, and they do not weaken the muscles in your feet and legs. Insoles are not a crutch or a brace. Your feet do not become dependent on them. Custom insoles provide essential support in key areas that improve function and/or limit excess motion causing stress on the tissues of the foot.
MYTH 7: insoles should be comfortable right out of the box.
NO. Most people think that their insoles should feel comfortable the first time they put them in their shoes. Once you learn the purpose of insoles, to reshape and realign your feet to their anatomical perfection, it should be easy to understand why insoles have a breaking-in period.
MYTH 8: custom prescription insoles are the same as retail store-bought shoe inserts.
NO. Your feet are different to my feet. Your particular feet problems relate to your body. So it’s important to get insoles that are customised to treat your specific anatomy and condition. Only a health professional such as a foot expert can effectively prescribe bespoke corrective insoles. This happens only after examining your walk (gait analysis) and a biomechanical assessment of your feet and lower legs.
MYTH 9: custom made insoles are much more expensive.
NO. Basic over-the-counter, mass produced, foot insoles are typically cheaper than custom-made insoles (at first glance). However, over-the-counter foot insoles generally have a much shorter lifespan. As such, cheaper insoles may end up being more expensive over time. Without professional help you might purchase the incorrect product or one that is ill-fitting. This could aggravate your foot condition instead of improving it.
MYTH 10: you only need 1 pair of insoles, as you can move them from one pair of shoes to another.
YES and NO. While it is true that you can theoretically move your insoles from one pair of shoes to another, as humans we tend to forget these things. If you want to see the true effects of retraining your feet and posture, it’s best to ensure the shoes you wear most often have their own, dedicated pair of insoles.