What are insoles?

Many of us have heard the term ‘insoles’ or seen them on the shelves in shops, but do you know what insoles actually do? Knowing what they’re used for and how they can help with various foot problems can make it easier for you to alleviate pain and discomfort in a safe way. In turn, this can help you to get on with your everyday activities without foot pain getting in the way. Keep reading to learn more.

What is an insole?

To take things right back to basics, the word ‘insole’ refers to the inner sole of your footwear – a.k.a. the part that lies directly underneath your foot when you wear a shoe. Some shoes have fixed insoles – also known as foot beds – that can’t be moved, while others feature removable insoles which can be replaced with other alternatives. The term ‘insole’ also refers to those alternatives – insertable soles that can replace or supplement the shoe’s original foot bed. For clarity, we’ll use insoles to refer to shoe inserts, and inner soles to refer to the shoe’s preexisting foot bed.

Typically, insoles aren’t used for aesthetic purposes but to offer some benefit to your health and wellbeing. For example, some insoles are designed to cushion your foot to reduce pain. However, not all insoles are made the same. Just as they can be designed to give a range of different benefits to your feet, they can also be made of different materials – such as silicone, foam or cork. On top of that, some insoles are customisable, such as those which can be trimmed to size to fit a certain shoe.

What do insoles do?

We’ve established that not all insoles are made the same, so let’s take a look at the variety on offer within the insole world. The inner soles of your shoes provide a standard level of comfort and support, but this isn’t always enough. Since everyone’s feet are slightly different, they have different needs, and for some this means they need more support than the standard. In general, this comes in three different ways:

  • Pressure relief

This type of insole helps to solve problems where the weight of your body isn’t spread evenly over your feet. These points which are under more pressure than others can be painful, and can even lead to the development of problems such as corns and calluses. Pressure-relieving insoles spread the burden more evenly across your feet to ease such problems and reduce the likelihood of them reoccurring.

  • Impact cushioning

Impact-cushioning insoles may sound similar, but they perform a slightly different function. These insoles cushion the whole foot equally to reduce pain caused by hard impacts. You often get impact-cushioning foot beds in running shoes for this reason. In addition, these insoles also work to reduce friction on the feet which could otherwise cause issues such as blisters.

  • Posture support

Finally, as the name suggests, posture support insoles help to encourage good posture in the feet. This can help to reduce the effects of musculoskeletal issues such as overpronation and supination, alleviating pain and supporting a healthy gait, which can in turn affect other areas of your physical health.

How to know if you need insoles

Some amount of discomfort is to be expected when you’re on your feet for a long period of time, or if you happen to be wearing shoes that are uncomfortable. But if you’re wearing shoes that fit well and you haven’t been on your feet for several hours, yet you still feel pain, this could be a sign that something is wrong. It’s also a warning sign if your feet hurt even in the morning when you’ve just got up, or if your feet hurt when you’re not wearing shoes just as much as they do when you are.

Here are some signs that you may need to see a healthcare professional such as a podiatrist, pharmacist or your GP about your feet:

  • Your feet seem to sit differently to everyone else’s
  • You have a strange or uneven gait
  • You’ve noticed an injury such as a blister, wart, verruca or corn
  • Your feet hurt with no apparent cause
  • Your feet or toes feel numb or tingly
  • You’ve noticed discolouration or a change in the shape of your feet.

Insoles may be able to help with some of these symptoms, but others may require different treatment. That’s why it’s important to see a doctor or healthcare professional if you notice any issues with your feet, as they will be able to help you discover the root of the problem. This, in turn, will make it easier to find the appropriate treatment strategy.

If insoles are the right choice, remember that not all insoles do the same job, so it’s important to know which one you need. Wearing supportive insoles that are made to adjust your posture, for example, could cause more problems if your posture is fine to begin with. Always take the necessary time to find out which insole is right for you – and don’t forget that even the best treatment needs time to get to work.

What are insoles?
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What are insoles?
Many of us have heard the term ‘insoles’ or seen them on the shelves in shops, but do you know what insoles actually do? Knowing what they’re used for and how they can help with various foot problems can make it easier for you to alleviate pain and discomfort in a safe way.
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About the author

David Barton

David began innovating offloading insoles and orthotic devices for diabetic foot ulcers as an undergraduate. His research provided instrumental data which sparked off further R&D projects relating to the ZeroSole Reliever insole, all of which has paved the way to developing numerous disruptive products, not just in the pharmaceutical retail sector, but in the medical sector too. As a founder, David is on a mission to make ZeroSole the go-to brand for innovative offloading (pressure-relieving) technologies that are effective, simple and easy to use.

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