When you have flat feet, standing for long periods of time or doing any similar physical activity may prove to be uncomfortable. Finding and wearing the right shoe inserts or insoles is one option to help alleviate your discomfort. Although orthotic insoles cannot cure flat feet, they are certainly one of the best ways to make this condition much more bearable.
Best Insoles for Flat Feet
Table of Contents
- Best Insoles for Flat Feet
How Orthotic Insoles Can Help
Orthotic insoles, or orthotics, are known to be helpful in preventing injuries in athletes. They are one of the most recommended ways to relieve pain from conditions such plantar fasciitis, tarsal tunnel syndrome, and even the notorious Achilles tendinitis. They are also becoming one of the most popular “add-ons” for avid runners to ensure that they are able to run long distances without risking injury.According to a study by McKenzie DC, Clement DB, Taunton JE, soft orthotics have been proven to be useful in providing adequate foot control for runners.
But for people with flat feet, the main purpose of orthotics is to allow you to achieve the optimal alignment of your legs to prevent injury or future problems related to your ankles or knees.
In addition, some studies, like the one performed by researchers at the University of Calgary, found that wearing orthotics could help improve the overall health of a person’s muscles and joints.
Whether you had flat feet as a kid or developed it during adulthood, orthotic insoles can provide you with the arch support needed to relieve pain and reduce related symptoms. To understand why, here’s an overview of the different types of flat feet:
1. Flexible flatfoot
The foot retains a slight arch which only appears if the person flexes his/her foot; does not cause pain or discomfort.
2. Painful rigid flatfoot
A physical abnormality that does not allow a person to flex his/her foot; causes pain and stiffness.
3. Spasmodic flatfoot
A condition wherein the foot is forced outward by spasms of the peroneal muscle; extremely painful and uncomfortable.
Since we are trying to get to know flat feet a bit more in-depth, here are the common causes of why adults develop flat feet (also called as “fallen arches”) and the other more serious things that could happen if you don’t do anything about this foot problem.
Causes of Adult Flat Feet
- Weight gain
- Weak arches
- Old age
- Ruptured tendons
- Lower extremity injury
- Nervous system / muscle disease side effect
Serious Side Effects of Flat Feet
- Leg and/or lower back pain
- Knee pain
- Development of corns and calluses
- Achilles tendinitis
- Plantar Fasciitis
Now that you understand the different types of flat feet, let’s look at the different types of orthotic insoles in more detail. You should also take note that there are many types of orthotics: orthoses, inserts, insoles, footbeds, foot cushions, and more! Some orthotics look like socks, braces, or boots, but for this article, we will focus on the insert type.
Orthotics come in various sizes, colors, and brands. The thickness varies, and the materials used depend on the manufacturer, of course. But the one thing they all have in common? They have an arch and a heel cup designed to absorb the impact of each step you take.
Are Orthopedic Insoles Right For You?
Before we talk about the top three brands of insoles for flat feet on the market today, it’s time for you to decide if you should go further in your search for the best insoles for you. Answer the following questions and, if at the end, you answered more ‘Yes’ than ‘No’, then you should move on and find the right insoles for you.
“Pre-fabricated orthotics and customised orthotics reduced rearfoot peak forces on both sides while bone spurs heel pad increase rearfoot peak pressures. Pre-fabricated and customised orthotics are useful in distributing pressure uniformly over the rearfoot region.”
- Do your flat feet cause you discomfort?
- Do you have painful rigid flatfoot or spasmodic flatfoot?
- Are you into physical activities like running?
- Did your podiatrist recommend inserts?
- Are you at risk of developing or worsening your flat feet?
Moreover, a study from the Singapore-based Changi General Hospital’s Department of Sports Medicine found that custom and ready-to-wear orthotics provided the best comfort for people with flat feet and chronic plantar fasciitis.
Examining Over-The-Counter Orthotic Insoles
Most doctors will recommend having an orthotic insert custom-made for you. This will leave a hole in your wallet in the range of $100 – $500. Ready-to-wear insoles, on the other hand, can go as cheap as $7 or as high as $50. Not bad, right? But observe caution. It is still important to choose a high-quality insert. As with anything you buy, do not sacrifice the quality for the price tag.
To help you find the best inserts, you should enlist the help of your doctor. Taking into account your lifestyle and physical activities, ask what materials and brand would be best for you, as well as how often they should be worn and if they could help prevent injuries.
Taking your doctor’s advice into consideration, here are some other things you need to remember once you start shopping for your inserts:
- Check the sizing chart or size recommendations of the company (and online reviews if you’re buying on Amazon or eBay).
- Make sure that the arch support of the insert is made of a firm material.
- Consider other features such as heat-molded, machine washable, anti-microbial coatings, and small vibrating motors.
Top 3 Insoles for Flat Feet
As a jump-off point for you in your hunt for the best insoles to help with flat feet, let’s take a closer look at the most popular brands on the market today.
1. Sof Sole Fit Series (Low-Arch Model)
If you’re looking for variety and style rolled in one, Sof Sole just might be the brand for you. They have various orthotic insoles that are categorized based on fit, lifestyle, and intended use.
Pros: Comes it attractive styles and colors; very comfortable; a good choice for those with an active lifestyle.
Cons: Limited sizes, and a bit expensive compared to others.
2. Superfeet Black Theraputic Support
Established in 1977, Superfeet offers sleek, well-structured orthotic insoles. Aside from the many available colors, one of the great things about this brand is its large catalog of materials, including carbon fiber, wool, memory foam, high-impact foam, microsuede, and outlast.
Pros: Looks good; very thin and comfortable; great for sensitive feet; comes with a 60-day comfort guarantee.
Cons: On the more expensive end.
3. Dr. Scholl’s Pain Relief Orthotics
Let’s face it – when you hear about foot products, you think Dr. Scholl’s. Although more known for their custom fit orthotics (which are pretty cool and easy to use if you find a kiosk near you), this brand also offers ready-to-wear inserts that provide the extra arch support your feet need.
Pros: Comes in many sizes and colors; no trimming required; has an average six-month shelf life.
Cons: Better for daily wear than physical activities.
Other Ways to Remedy the Effects of Flat Feet
To complement your inserts, here are some suggestions that are believed to be of great help in alleviating the pain from flat feet:
- Get as much rest as you can, especially when you feel pain starting in your feet.
- Do some simple foot strengthening exercises.
- Wear a good pair of shoes for your flat feet with proper level of arch support.
- If applicable, lose weight to lessen the pressure on your steps.