The 10 Best Arch Supports
This wiki has been updated 23 times since it was first published in October of 2016. If you've got plantar fasciitis, sciatica, or just a penchant for hip-but-uncomfortable shoes, standing around on a pair of tired and achy dogs can be pretty miserable. These high-quality orthotics are designed to provide support and cushioning for arches, reducing painful pressure points and promoting a healthy posture to make spending time on your feet a lot more pleasant. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 01, 2020:
Many of the high-quality items on our list are still the best options on the market. However, we did remove the Corefit Orthotics, due to the fact that they tend to lose their shape with frequent use. New to the list, we have Dr. Scholl’s Tri-Comfort. While this option is by no means a medical-grade device, it's an affordable choice for those who feel that they need a little extra support. In addition to the arches, these insoles are designed to provide comfort to the ball of the foot and the heel. Unlike some of the more durable options on the list, they are meant to be replaced every six months.
July 08, 2019:
In this update, we've been pleased to see that most of our top picks have stood the test of time. We've only added one new item to our list: the Emsold Orthotics.
Depending on your particular reason for seeking out arch supports, you'll want to consider products with different characteristics. For instances, those with high arches will want to check out the Superfeet Green. Those with chronic foot issues like plantar fasciitis or sciatica will want to lean towards Natural Foot Orthotics, which have developed a reputation for effectively minimizing issues arising from both of these conditions. Of course, if you do have a medical issue that plagues your feet, we emphatically insist that you should be working closely with a podiatrist before you decide to buy any of these arch supports. As he or she will likely tell you, arch supports may not resolve the underlying issues that cause the pain; what's more likely is that they'll merely alleviate the symptoms.
Arch supports differ from orthotics in that the latter are designed to correct the biomechanical imbalances and other underlying issues that lead to foot pain and instability. Arch supports don't. However, some people's foot and ankle issues are minor, and having the added reinforcement that over-the-counter inserts provide can be a big help that comes at a low price.
Upstep Custom Insoles If you want custom insoles, this company offers a service that allows you to purchase orthotics without ever having to leave your home. Once you make your purchase, they'll send you an impression kit, which you'll use to mold your foot before sending it back. They'll use this impression, as well as your answers from a long list of survey questions regarding postural pain, past diagnoses, and lifestyle factors, to create orthotics specially for you. upstep.com
Benefits Of Using Arch Supports
People with lower arches tend to overpronate inwards, which can cause the knees and hips to push out of alignment.
While some see arch supporting insoles as things that only people with clinical foot problems need, the reality is that everyone can benefit from using arch supports. Arches absorb and disperse much of the pressure and stress from each step a person takes as they walk. This means they are exposed to thousands of pounds of pressure each day, and the tendons running through them control the foot and influence the entire leg and lower back. The arches are easily the most important structures in the human foot, and protecting them should be a very high priority.
The type of arch support someone wears will be based on their individual arch shape and level. It is usually easy enough to find this out through personal inspection, though a trip to the podiatrist can result in a perfect analysis of an individual’s feet and arch support needs. The feet of people with low arches will rest almost entirely on the floor, where people with high arches will notice a curve in their feet. People with lower arches tend to overpronate inwards, which can cause the knees and hips to push out of alignment. Arch supports and other orthoses help correct this alignment and reduce risk of injury. People who overpronate should look for motion control arch supports that provide structure for the inside of the foot.
Underpronation can be equally detrimental to the feet, and is more pronounced in people with high arches. This is the foot’s inability to move inward as it needs to. To correct this, people who underpronate should look for arch supports and shoes with a lot of cushioning. These will encourage the foot to roll inward. Orthotic inserts may be necessary on the extreme ends of the spectrum, but most arch issues can be corrected using only arch supports and foot strengthening exercises.
Choosing The Best Shoes For Arch Support
Arch supports are important additions to every shoe, but there are some shoes that provide much more support than others. Understanding shoe choices and how they will support the natural arches of the feet can help determine which to use with supportive insoles.
Flip flops are recommended by podiatrists for very minimal use, such as going from the pool back into the house.
High quality running shoes for both men and women are easily the best choice for arch support. Ideally, the toe box should point slightly upwards, and the arches should be supported. The heel in a nice pair of running shoes will also provide a lot of cushioning to reduce impact to the legs throughout the day. This allows a person to walk longer without feeling fatigued, which is key to keeping the joints healthy. Arch supports can often replace the standard insoles on shoes, providing an even greater benefit to the wearer. Flat shoes, such as skate shoes, ballerina flats, or boating shoes, are comfortable, and some high top models can provide ankle support if they are laced up, but these shoes generally provide minimal arch support. They tend to force the foot into a flat position, which can put undue stress on the muscles and tendons. For this reason, arch supports should always be worn with flat shoes.
As comfortable as they seem, flip flops are terrible for the feet. They provide little to no cushioning to the heel, and most have no arch support at all. There is also no way to add arch supports to them. Flip flops are recommended by podiatrists for very minimal use, such as going from the pool back into the house. They were never meant to be worn throughout the day. As far as support goes, the worst shoes to wear are high heels. Simple, three-inch heels actually change the alignment of the body; putting stress on the feet, legs, hips, and back. Wearing high heels regularly has been linked to musculoskeletal pain and injury. They provide no ankle or arch support themselves, and there is no way to use arch supporting insoles properly in high heels. High heels should be avoided whenever possible. Shorter wedge heels are a much better option.
What Are The Risks Of Flat Feet?
While there is a simple genetic factor to flat feet, allowing the feet to remain flat may pose health risks over time. Early signs that you may experience problems later in life include feet that point out when at rest and shoes that wear out faster on one side than the other. Flat feet have been linked to various health problems, especially in the lower extremities. They are most commonly associated with pain in the feet caused by the ligaments and muscles being stretched and strained. Flat feet may also present as swelling and pain in the ankle, calf, or knee. The additional stress caused by flat feet can also turn the ankles inward, which can lead to lower back and hip problems.
Custom-made orthotics and braces are also employed in cases of moderate to severe changes in the shape of the feet.
Flat feet may also contribute to or exacerbate symptoms of other lower leg problems. Patients with arthritis in the feet or ankles may find their symptoms get worse as the feet get more flat. Patients may be more likely to get conditions such as bunions, hammertoes, and shin splints, when they have flat feet. Symptoms of Achilles tendinitis are often made worse by flat feet, as well.
People with flat feet are more likely to be obese. The negative effects of this are already noticeable at very early ages. Exposing the feet to heavier loads can affect plantar pressure distribution, walking stability, and may even cause permanent changes in gait. Flat feet can also develop as a person ages. The posterior tibial tendon is the main support structure of the foot’s arch, and can weaken with continuous use. This may lead to posterior tibial tendinitis, which causes chronic pain, swelling, and dysfunction in the foot and ankle.
Symptoms may get worse with higher activity levels and impact. Posterior tibial tendinitis is often easily managed using nonsurgical methods like arch supports, ice, and rest. Custom-made orthotics and braces are also employed in cases of moderate to severe changes in the shape of the feet.