The 10 Best Insoles
10. Sof Sole Airr
9. Spenco Total Support Max
8. Hydrofeet Dynamic Therapeutic
7. Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel
6. Powerstep Protech
5. New Balance 3810
4. CurrexSole RunPro
3. Powerstep Pinnacle
2. Spenco Rx Comfort
1. Superfeet Carbon
Brief History Of Foot Orthotics
The first use of medical arch support orthotics was in 1865, when Everett H. Dunbar added leather lifts between the outsole and the insole of a pair of shoes. Forty years later in 1905, an orthopedist in Boston by the name of Royal Whitman created the first full foot orthotic. It was called the Whitman Brace and was designed to treat a condition known as flat foot. Unfortunately, the Whitman Brace could be quite cumbersome to put on. It was also large enough to distort the wearer's shoe.
In 1904, a young physician by the name of Dr. William Scholl patented the Foot-Eazer and in 1907 he founded the Scholl Manufacturing Co. Inc. to produce and sell it. It was significantly lighter and smaller than the Whitman Brace, plus its arch support was more flexible and comfortable to wear. This allowed it to quickly replace the Whitman Brace as the foot orthotic of choice and by 1915, it was an international success with stores opening in London.
Over the next two decades, shoe manufacturers started producing corrective shoes, which had built-in orthotic features. These became wildly popular and at one point, there were over 1,000 brands of orthotic footwear. The advertisements for these orthotic shoes claimed the ability to prevent, cure, and relieve such a wide range of foot disorders that, in the late 1940s, the Federal Trade Commission issued a cease-and-desist order to any company that could not support their claims.
A few notable companies were able to withstand the rapid decline of the corrective shoe industry after the cease-and-desist order, Dr. Scholl's being one of them, and in the 1960s and 1970s new materials along with an increase in athletic shoes and the burgeoning popularity of jogging gave the orthotics industry renewed vigor.
Benefits Of Using Insoles
The benefits of using insoles can be quickly realized by anybody who stands or walks for long periods of time throughout the day. They can also be beneficial for runners. Not only do they lessen foot fatigue and relieve joint pain in the ankle and knee, insoles are known to help with plantar fasciitis and abnormal foot pronation.
As we have molded our landscape to form cities with well-laid out sidewalks and roads and construct buildings with tile and marble floors, we have increased the amount of time we spend walking on unnaturally hard surfaces and reduced the amount of time spent on natural land like grass, sand, and soil. These artificial surfaces do not offer any of the cushioning and shock absorbing properties of the natural landscape. This has resulted in an estimated 50% to 60% of the population experiencing foot, ankle, and lower joint pain in some form or another.
The shock and impact absorbing properties of insoles works to combat this problem. They are designed to mold to your foot, offering more support and more cushioning. One could argue that shoes already come with enough padding, and this is often true when they are new. After walking in them for six months to a year, this padding gets compacted and loses much of its ability to effectively absorb impacts. Inserting a set of insoles into a pair of shoes is considerably cheaper than buying a new pair when the shoe's padding loses its shock absorbing properties.
Understanding The Types Of Insoles
Insoles come in a variety of types, each designed with a different application in mind. They will often be advertised with the following terms: arch support, arch cushion, comfort or cushion, athletic or sport, and gel.
Arch support insoles are somewhat hard and rigid. This is because they are designed to give support more so than add comfort. They assist the foot in attaining a natural stepping position and help to properly spread the body's weight across the entire foot. Arch supports may feel uncomfortable when one first starts using them, but most become accustomed to them within a week or two.
Arch cushions are ideal for the person who has only a slight arch problem and wants something to enhance comfort while offering support at the same time. They can also be used by someone who is having trouble becoming accustomed to the more rigid design of arch support insoles. Arch cushions have a foam padding to help absorb impacts.
Comfort insoles are designed for people who experience discomfort when standing and walking for long periods. They have thicker padding then other insole types and will work better for absorbing heavy impacts. Comfort insoles are ideal for walking all day and can help increase circulation or relieve joint pain and foot fatigue.
Athletic insoles are engineered to meet the rigorous demands of athletes. They will have more heel padding and a support system designed to promote a natural gait. Sport insoles tend to be more compact than other types of insoles so they can fit into tight running shoes.
Gel insoles offer the most shock absorption and provide one of the softest feeling steps. They mold better to the shape of the foot and can bend with the shoe if you step on uneven surfaces. Gel insoles also last longer before losing their shock absorbing abilities than traditional padding.