Types Of Insoles, Inserts, And Orthotics

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Types of insoles, inserts and orthotics

With so many insoles to choose from, it can be a daunting task to pick the right one. They range in design as much as they do in price, with options available from under $10 to $400+ for custom orthotics. The terms “insoles” and “inserts” are mostly synonymous; these are pre-fabricated devices, meaning that the design is mass produced, and not custom made for your individual foot. Custom orthotics are made specifically for you using a variety of different molding techniques. Both types can be effective in improving foot comfort, but some types of insoles have features which benefit more than just your comfort.

flat insoles

Flat, Non-supportive Insoles

These are the types of insoles that you’d commonly see at the grocery store. They are typically made of gel or foam, and are meant to give you additional comfort while you’re on your feet. They are a great option for those with less serious needs, because they are cheap and fit in nearly any type of shoe. However, if you have a painful condition such as plantar fasciitis or achilles tendonitis, these types of insoles will likely leave you wishing for more support.

protalus insoles

Contoured, Supportive Insoles

Supportive insoles are different from their non-supportive counterparts because in addition to providing a soft cushion for your step, they also help your foot to maintain proper position while you’re on your feet. This is done by using a more rigid material underneath the heel and arch which prevents excessive movement (also known as overpronation). This may not sound as important as cushioning, but the position of your foot affects the position of other joints in the lower body, particularly the ankle and knee. Because they are all connected, if one gets thrown out of alignment, the rest follows. This is a major benefit you won’t get with non-supportive insoles.

custom mold for insoles

“Custom” Mold Kits

Not all “custom” orthotics are made equal, and that’s why it’s worth understanding the differences between them. There are many “custom” solutions out there that mold to your feet, but these mold kits don’t provide the same benefit as seeing a podiatrist. Some use heat to mold to your foot, while others require an imprint of your foot that is then used to shape your insole. However, what if the shape of your foot is what’s causing the issues? These types of insoles are a step cheaper than custom orthotics, but you’re missing out on the foot evaluation by a real podiatrist, which is where the real value of a custom orthotic comes from.

custom insoles

Custom Orthotics

Custom orthotics are the gold standard for foot health. After an evaluation from a podiatrist, they will design insoles custom made for your foot with built-in features to improve the way you walk. The downside is that they are by far the most expensive option, usually in the few hundred dollar range which is why most people view this option as a “last resort”.

If you’re looking to improve your comfort while on your feet for long periods of time, contoured supportive insoles like Protalus would be a great first step. These designs have the shock absorbing materials to lessen impact as well as the support to keep your foot and ankle in correct position. Even better, Protalus has a 90 day money-back guarantee with no questions asked. If you’ve already gone this route and tried an assortment of pre-fabricated insoles, I’d recommend seeing a podiatrist and getting a full foot evaluation.

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