What’s the Difference Between Insoles and Orthotics?

Insoles and orthotics. They’re the same thing, right? Not exactly. Most people use these terms interchangeably, but in reality, insoles and orthotics are different in many ways. They do have one big thing in common: They help eliminate foot pain and discomfort.

If you’re confused about the difference between orthotics and insoles, you’re not alone. I’m going to clear things up so that you know exactly what each one does and how they may benefit your feet.

What are Insoles?

Insoles are sometimes called shoe inserts. They come in two different sizes: full-size and 3/4 length. You can buy insoles over the counter at most pharmacies and health stores. They’re designed to replace the standard insoles that came with your shoes or high heels.

Most insoles are made of gel, foam and other materials (usually soft plastic and rubber) which all work together to provide foot support. These additional materials are usually used to address specific needs, like if you have flat feet or need extra support as an athlete.

Insoles are mass-produced, and they do have a relatively short lifespan (about six months). The materials they’re made of allow for extra cushioning and support to reduce foot pain from standing for long hours.

Most people can benefit from insoles, particularly if they spend a lot of time on their feet or wear high heels. There are many types and materials to choose from, and you’re sure to find one that will fit your feet.

Because insoles are mass-produced, they don’t offer a custom fit for your feet. They’re sold in size ranges, and the user has to trim down the insoles to make it fit the foot properly. Trimming can be a little tricky, depending on the insole and the material used. But a good pair of sharp scissors should get the job done.

Insoles are sold in pairs, and they’re relatively easy to keep clean  using warm water and mild dish detergent. Most pairs will come with thorough care instructions.

While they do offer pain relief, insoles don’t address specific foot needs or disorders. If you’re suffering from a medical condition or have a specific foot problem that needs to be fixed, orthotics are the better solution.

Although insoles only last about six months, they’re easy and inexpensive to replace. They provide general pain relief and support, so they’re worth the cost of replacing.

When Should You Use Insoles?

Insoles can provide much-needed relief and comfort if you’re suffering from minor foot pain or you need arch support. And because they’re sold over-the-counter (i.e. you don’t need a prescription), they’re really convenient and easy to find.

Insoles may be a good option for you if you’re on your feet all day at work. Many brands have acupuncture points that will actually massage your feet and improve blood circulation.

They’re an inexpensive solution to minor foot pain.

What are Orthotics?

Orthotics are similar to insoles. They also provide pain and pressure relief while giving your feet some comfort. But the main difference between insoles and orthotics is that orthotics are custom-made for your feet.

Like insoles, orthotics come in two lengths: 3/4 and full-size.

Because they’re custom-made to fit your feet, they’re able to address specific foot issues. You also don’t have to worry about trimming orthotics to fit your feet and shoes. If you desire, you can have just one orthotic made instead of a pair.

Like insoles, orthotics provide cushioning and arch support. But orthotics take that cushioning and support to a new level because they’re custom-made for your feet. They absorb shock, but they also help correct the way you stand or walk, like if you have issues with oversupination or overpronation. Insoles can help correct these problems, but not as effectively as a custom orthotic.

Orthotics can correct alignment issues. One of the main reasons why we have alignment issues is because we put too much pressure and weight on certain parts of the body. Orthotics work by spreading the weight evenly to the rest of the body.

Changing your gait and posture can help eliminate some foot problems and more severe pain.

Orthotics do last much longer than insoles – about five years compared to just six months. The main drawback is that orthotics are expensive. They can range from $400-$600, but their effects make them worth the cost.

When Should You Use Orthotics?

If you have severe foot pain or a specific foot problem that needs to be corrected, orthotics may be the only real solution. You may also want to try orthotics if insoles aren’t giving you the relief you want.

Orthotics are ideal for people suffering from:

They’re also great for athletes because the material used to create custom orthotics offers shock absorption, arch support and cushioning all in one package.

Both Offer Quick Noticeable Results

Both insoles and orthotics offer quick and noticeable results. How quick? Most people start seeing and feeling results after just a few weeks.

Is one better than the other? Not necessarily. It really depends on your personal needs. Do you have foot pain because you stand on your feet all day, or are you dealing with a specific foot condition, like overpronation?

If you have a specific foot condition or you have more severe pain, custom orthotics may be the best solution to your needs. You would also benefit from seeing a podiatrist.

If you just need something to make your feet more comfortable and help prevent fatigue from standing all day, insoles are a great, effective option. You won’t need to visit a specialist either. Just head to your local pharmacy or grocery store (yes, most grocery stores sell insoles in their healthcare departments) to buy a pair.

Insoles and orthotics both have a place on the market. If you find that insoles aren’t giving you the relief that you need and your pain is becoming debilitating, it’s time to see a podiatrist and have custom orthotics created to address your specific needs.

Should You Be Using Insoles? 5 Facts to Make Your Decision Easier

Do you have foot pain? Aches keeping you from going for a walk with a loved one? You know, there is a better option: insoles.

A lot of people think that insoles are going to take up too much room inside of their shoes.

But there are thin models that allow you to still keep your foot inside of the shoe comfortably. There’s no need for an ultra-tight shoe that causes more pain than it actually helps.

Insoles are great because people spend time standing each day. Researchers state that people sit too much, and it’s true. Now, it’s recommended that you stand for 2-4 hours per day while working.

The more you stand, the more pressure you’ll be putting on your feet.

This is where insoles come in.

If you’re undecided on insoles, here are a few facts that will make your decision easier.

1. Insoles Add Cushioning for Your Feet

The normal insole in your shoe or sneaker gets worn down after a while. And for some people, this insole is not able to do its job properly from the start. One of the causes of calluses  is uneven pressure when walking.

Cushioning will help reduce calluses because it allows for less pressure to be centered on one area of the foot.

Since all of your weight is being distributed through the body to your feet, it’s in your best interest to have additional padding in place. The padding will add cushioning for your feet to allow for the elimination of the many aches and pains that you may be dealing with.

2. Insoles Offer Help for a Variety of Conditions

Did you know that there are insoles for flat feet ? You’ll also find insoles for:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Low arches
  • High arches
  • Heels
  • Running

One of the main things that I point out in my MindInsole reviews  is that insoles can help you with a lot of medical-related issues. You’ll find insoles that will be able to alleviate foot pain caused by arch-related issues and other issues.

The good news is that you don’t need to go to a doctor or spend money on a specialist.

You can buy a good insole that works for general foot health and pain.

3. Insoles are a Very Affordable Option

I don’t know about you, but I dread going to the doctor.

Why?

It’s always this long process with the doctor checking out my entire health and well-being when I know that the only thing that’s wrong is foot pain. Doctors are not going to recommend over-the-counter insoles for most people.

The doctor wants your money.

Instead, you’ll often be referred to a specialist, or the doctor will recommend that you have a custom insert created.

Anything custom is going to cost a lot of money.

These custom options are $400 – $600 on average. In my opinion, that’s a lot of money with no guarantee that I will be able to live pain-free.

Over-the-counter options are far more affordable – you’ll pay 20% of the cost of a custom insole at the high end.

If you don’t want to have to deal with a costly doctor visit and insoles, you can give shoe inserts a try and see how they work for you. It’s a great choice for anyone who’s on a budget. It’s also a great option for someone who is in pain that’s still bearable but they’d rather get rid of it before it progresses into not being able to walk properly.

4. Insoles Offer Additional Shock Absorption

Every step you take has a force behind it. Your joints are designed to absorb a lot of this force, but eventually, this shock will go to your feet. Think of a person running. All of the weight is distributed through the knees, ankle and feet with every single step.

The shock of running is a major stressor for the body.

And it will lead you to aches and pain in your feet. Some people are lucky, and the pain is mild. Others will have to stop running because the pain is interfering with their daily activities.

Insoles offer shock absorption properties.

When you step on to the cushion, it will absorb much of the shock.

This is why so many runners will choose to put inserts in their shoes. When shock is absorbed, you don’t have to deal with the aches and pains in your feet or ankles anymore.

Runners or anyone who is very active will be the perfect candidate for shoe insoles. You’re putting a lot of weight and stress on your feet, and if you alleviate this stress before pain starts to become an issue, you should.

That’s what insoles offer: preventative pain management for your feet.

5. Insoles Offer Better Foot Support

Every insole is different, but a lot of the models that I have had the pleasure of reviewing have offered additional foot support. This may not seem important to a lot of people, but it’s very important for me.

You see, when you walk, your ankle can roll or your heel could not align properly.

It’s not a big deal at first, but over time, it will lead to undue stress on your feet and ankles. It’s a slow and steady way to cause foot pain.

Some insoles will actually help keep your foot aligned and also stop your foot from rolling.

This can save you from stress fractures and even broken bones in some cases. For me, this is a very important reason to have insoles. A good time to wear these supportive insoles is after an ankle injury where the ankle muscles have weakened.

Since the muscles are weaker, your ankle is more inclined to roll, which can lead to a broken ankle, or tendon issues.

The right insole will prevent this unwarranted rolling and allow you to be much safer when walking or running.

Insoles are an affordable way to care for your feet. With so many options on the market today, a good pair of insoles is easy to find and will prevent you from dealing with foot pain.

Plantar Fasciitis Inflammation: 6 Natural Ways to Find Relief

Plantar fasciitis is common, and it’s a result of damage and inflammation that happens to the plantar fascia ligaments in your feet. This is much different than someone with a high arch  that has pain – this pain is even more intense.

Your feet have become damaged.

And the pain in your heel will only continue to intensify. The good news is that you realize that something is wrong with your feet and you’re looking for answers.

Why else would you be reading this article?

The good news is that there are a lot of ways to find relief for your plantar fasciitis pain.

1. Supportive Shoes Help

Your feet rely on your shoes to offer proper cushioning and support. If your shoes are lacking in any way, this support will be none existent. You really want to look at support for your heel. Proper heel support will help relieve some of the pressure and inflammation on the plantar fascia.

A good pair of shoes is often difficult to find, so I highly recommend reading reviews on any shoe you plan to purchase.

2. Consider Insoles or Orthotics

Since plantar fasciitis is such a common issue, there are orthotic inserts  that can help you find pain relief. There are a lot of custom options, too.

But I recommend trying over-the-counter options first.

We’ve seen a lot of MindInsole reviews  stating how beneficial these insoles were for people suffering from plantar fasciitis.

If the over-the-counter options don’t work, it may be worthwhile to try a custom orthotic that your doctor recommended. These orthotics will be able to conform to your foot better than an insert, and they’re very good at helping to alleviate pain.

Insoles or orthotics will be able to help you distribute your weight more evenly when you walk. A person that has high arches will benefit from these options, too. The good news is that once the condition has settled down, your doctor may even recommend not wearing the orthotics any longer.

3. Splints Can Help

Do you hate trying to stretch your foot’s arches or calves? We all do. It’s a pain, and it’s a big inconvenience when you’re busy all day and night.

But what other option do you have, right?

Night splints.

What’s great about night splints is that they do all of the work for you without any struggle in the process. You simply put these splints on at night, and the rest is history. While you sleep, the splints will work to stretch out your calves and arches.

It’s a long process, but it is only going to take 1 – 3 months to be able to regain the flexibility that your foot once had. Hard and soft models exist, and a lot of people find that the soft splints allow for an easier adjustment period during nighttime wear.

People that have had plantar fasciitis for six or more months will want to use night splints.

Otherwise, you may want to stick to some of the other recommendations that are on our list.

4. Start Using Lavender Essential Oils

Essential oils are great for everything, from pain to helping wounds heal faster. Lavender is one oil that a lot of people overlook, but it smells great and has a very important property: anti-inflammation.

When pain is caused by inflammation, rubbing lavender oil (mixed with a carrier oil) into the skin on the affected area can help.

Studies from 2015 show the efficacy of lavender oil for inflammation. If you’ve never used essential oils before, the process is rather simple.

  • Add about 2 drops of essential oil to a carrier oil
    • Coconut oil
    • Olive oil
  • Massage the mixture onto the bottom of the heel

Focus on the area of the foot that hurts the most. I have even had luck just adding a few drops of this essential oil into a foot bath. The pain relief will come as a result of the anti-inflammatory properties that the oil has to offer.

5. Start Stretching Your Feet

Remember those night splints that we just discussed? Well, you don’t need the splints if you don’t mind doing some of the stretching on your own. A good stretch, every single day, will help you regain the arch in your foot.

The goal is to stretch your:

  • Foot’s arch
  • Calf

A few stretches that you can do, remember to hold them for 15-30 seconds, include:

  • Place your right foot, toes facing forward, against the wall. Place your left foot a few feet back and place your hands on the wall. Bend the front knee forward with the intent of stretching your calves. Pay attention to the left foot and try to keep the heel on the ground the entire time. Repeat on the other side.
  • Grab a towel and place it around the middle of your foot. Grab both ends of the towel and pull towards your mid-section. Your goal is to stretch the ankle upward to try and get a nice calf and arch stretch.
  • Cross your left leg on top of your right leg while sitting on a chair. Grab your big toe and pull gently toward your body. You’ll want to hold this stretch and repeat for 3 – 4 times on each foot.

These are just a few of the basic stretches that I recommend if you’re trying to get rid of the inflammation that’s being caused by plantar fasciitis.

6. Apply Ice to the Area

Ice is your best friend, and it is a great way to alleviate inflammation. You’ll want to create your own ice pack, and this can be done by placing ice cubes into a towel. You can also put ice cubes into a plastic bag, and then wrap the bag in a towel.

Hold the ice pack on the area for 15 – 20 minutes up to four times per day.

A lot of people will also make a small ice ball and place their foot on top of it. You can roll your foot on the ball at this point to help stretch it out and alleviate some of the inflammation that you have.

Link  to article about high arches [RE1]

Link to homepage [RE2]

Link to MindInsoles review [RE3]

Insoles: A Complete Buyer’s Guide

You just bought a brand new pair of shoes. They fit like a glove at the store. But now that you’ve worn them a few times, they’re starting to feel uncomfortable. They pinch. They’re a little tight. And they’re making your heel hurt.

What could be the problem?

Before you toss out your shoes and buy another expensive pair, you may want to change the insoles.

Why do You Need Insoles?

I think the better question is: why wouldn’t you need insoles ? If you’re on your feet all day, you know that after a few hours, you start feeling the effects of all that extra pressure on your ankles and feet. Even with the best pair of shoes, spending hours on your feet will eventually take its toll on your body.

Insoles are only part of the solution, but they can help greatly at alleviating the pain and pressure on your feet.

Before humans invented shoes, we went barefoot everywhere. And yet we didn’t have the foot problems that we have today (at least we don’t have any records of these conditions).

Eventually, we figured out how to make shoes, which were supposed to make our feet more comfortable. It also made it easier to walk over rough terrain, particularly rocky areas and hot sand.

Today, we have all kinds of shoes, most of which are really not healthy for our feet and keep us from moving our feet naturally. We force our feet into weird shapes – hello, stilettos.

Now, to fix the problem, we’ve developed insoles to support and cushion our feet.

Different Types of Insoles

There are a few main types of insoles:

Soft Support

These are one of the most popular types of insoles. They’re designed primarily to ease pressure on the foot. They’re lightweight, and they target specific pressure points on the foot.

Soft support insoles are either foam- or gel-based. These materials offer cushioned support and shock absorption.

Rigid Support

If you’re dealing with excessive pronation, you may need an insole with rigid support that works from the ankle down.

The rigid design of these insoles provides full arch support.

In most cases, these insoles are made out of polyurethane plastic as well as foam. They can be molded traditionally, or they can be 3D printed now.

Because these insoles are not as common as others, they’re typically custom-made to fit your foot.

Semi-Rigid Support

Insoles with semi-rigid support are somewhere in between soft and rigid insoles. They’re popular with athletes and usually made of a tougher material, such as cork, leather, plastic or foam. Using a combination of these materials ensures that the insole is neither too soft nor too rigid.

What to Look for When Buying Insoles

We wear insoles for a number of reasons, usually because we’re on our feet for too long or walking for too long. Eventually, this takes a toll on the feet. The right type of insole can help prevent damage and reduce pressure on your feet, even if you’re required to be on your feet all day for work.

There are a few things you need to consider when choosing a pair of insoles for your shoes.

Arch Type

There are three types of arches: high, medium and low (or flat feet). Insoles are designed to support one of these three arch types. If you have low arches, you’ll want to buy insoles for flat feet .

Before buying a pair of insoles, make sure that you understand what type of arch you have. This video offers a pretty good explanation of arch types.

If you choose the wrong insole for your arch type, it will do more harm than good.

Insole Material

Insoles are generally made from one or a combination of four materials: foam, cork, leather and/or gel. Each material has its own benefits and properties, so it really comes down to personal preference and your needs.

  • Foam provides support
  • Gel provides shock absorption
  • Cork is ideal for light cushioning and more rigid support
  • Leather provides cushioning

In most cases, insoles are made of a combination of foam and gel for shock absorption and extra cushioning.

Sizing

Insoles are not a one-size-fits-all product. They come in size ranges, usually three sizes. So, you might find insoles for men’s sizes 8-10.

These insoles must be trimmed with scissors to fit your shoe. Lines or guides are included on the insoles so that you know where to trim. If you’re a half-size, you may not need to trim the insole at all.

Do You Have to Replace Your Old Insoles?

All shoes come with standard insoles. If you buy new ones for cushioning or support, do you have to remove the old ones? In most cases, yes.

You don’t have to, but it may feel uncomfortable to wear two sets of insoles at the same time, and your shoes may become too tight.

If you’re buying a full-length insole, you’ll probably want to replace your old insoles with the new ones.

If you have a 3/4-length insole, then you may not want to replace your old insole because the new one will only cover a small part of your shoe.

Over-the-Counter, or Custom Insoles?

When buying insoles, you have the option of choosing over-the-counter (i.e. ready-made) or custom insoles.

If you need rigid support insoles, you’ll probably need to get a custom solution. Custom-made insoles are great because they’re made specifically for your feet and can address specific foot problems, like those associated with diabetes . But the high cost of these insoles puts them out of reach for many people.

Over-the-counter insoles are mass-produced, but they’re affordable. They provide comfort and support for your feet, although they won’t address any particular medical problem. They’re easy to find, and there are many options available to suit your preferences and needs.

Insoles can change your life – and I’m not exaggerating. Foot pain or discomfort can be debilitating and make your life miserable. A simple pair of inexpensive insoles may be all that you need to fix the problem. It’s an easy solution for a problem that you face every single day.

How to Care for Your New Insoles

You’ve just bought a new pair of insoles, and you’re excited to finally get rid of foot pain for good. Your insoles will bring you a whole new level of comfort  and support. Take care of them, and they’ll take care of your feet for a long time.

But how exactly do you take care of insoles?

How Long Do Insoles Last?

Insoles aren’t as heavy-duty as orthotics, so they won’t last quite as long. But here’s the good news: insoles are relatively inexpensive to replace. You can still prolong their life by taking care of them.

Generally, insoles will last about six months before needing to be replaced. That’s a pretty good amount of time considering the cost of the average insole. You’ll only need to replace them twice a year.

How to Clean Your Insoles

How and when should you clean your insoles? Timing will depend on your personal preference, but I generally recommend cleaning once per week if you use them daily. Of course, if you use them less-often, you may not need to clean them this often. Once every two or three weeks may suffice if you only use your insoles a few times a week.

What’s the safest way to clean your insoles?

  • Create a solution of lukewarm water and mild detergent. Avoid using harsh cleaners, as they can erode or damage the insole material.
  • You don’t want to soak the insoles in your cleaning solution. Instead, dip a sponge in the solution, and clean your insoles this way. Only apply as much pressure as needed to remove dirt and grime.
  • For stubborn spots, you can use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the spot.
  • Once you’re done cleaning, make sure that you get rid of all excess water.
  • Allow the insoles to air-dry in a well-ventilated area. If you clean them at night, they should be dry and ready for use in the morning.
  • Do not wear insoles that are still wet or damp. They won’t work as well, and you could potentially damage the material.

Can You Soak Insoles in Water?

For the most part, insoles really don’t like water. You may be able to wear them on a rainy day and allow them to dry overnight, but you don’t want to soak them in water if you’re cleaning them.

The amount of water your insoles can tolerate will really depend on their material. Most of the insoles sold on the market today have fabric or foam components. Water can easily damage both of these materials.

If your shoes get water-logged, you’ll want to remove your insoles as quickly as possible and use a clean cloth to soak up as much water as possible. And remember to avoid soaking your insoles when you clean them.

Can You Put Your Insoles in the Washing Machine and Dryer?

Having to take the time to clean your insoles by hand may seem tedious and time-consuming. It would be easier if you could just toss your insoles into the washing machine and dryer. But is it safe to do that?

That really depends on the insoles.

Some brands say that it’s okay to wash their insoles in a washing machine, while others recommend washing by hand. Fortunately, all insoles come with cleaning and care instructions, so you won’t be left guessing.

Even if the brand says that you can wash the insoles in a washing machine, I still recommend doing it by hand. Hand-washing is much gentler, and it will help prolong the life of your insoles.

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Replace Your Insoles?

Even with the best possible care, you’ll still need to replace your insoles eventually. How do you know when it’s time to finally toss your old insoles into the trash and buy new ones?

The first thing you need to consider is time. When did you buy the insoles? I highly recommend keeping track of your purchase date or setting a reminder on your phone for six months.

Second, you need to consider the feel of the insoles. Time is only one factor when deciding when to replace your insoles. If you’ve only had your insoles for a month but you’re starting to feel pain and discomfort again, it may be time to get new ones. If your insoles are wearing out prematurely, it may be time to try a new brand or insole type.

Should You Choose Customized Orthotics or Over-the-Counter Insoles?

If you find that your insoles wear out easily or don’t give you the level of support you need, you may be wondering whether it would be better to buy orthotics. The answer will ultimately depend on why you’re buying inserts in the first place.

If you have foot pain caused by a medical condition , custom orthotics may be a better solution for you.

Orthotics are also ideal for athletes who have unique needs.

If you want a more advanced insole, heat-molded ones are the best option. These insoles actually conform to the shape of your foot without having to worry about trimming or altering the size or shape.

But they’ll cost you quite a bit of money – up to $600.

On the plus side, heat-molded insoles will last about five years. They really do offer good value for the money.

Over-the-counter insoles don’t address any particular foot issue. They simply offer extra comfort and support to make your shoes more comfortable. On a bright note, they only cost $20-$50, and they’ll last about six months.

If you need to address a specific foot issue or improve your athletic performance, you may be better off getting a pair of custom orthotics. Custom orthotics will address the root cause of the problem. However, if you’re simply looking for something to alleviate general foot pain and discomfort, insoles are a great, cost-effective solution.

Taking care of your insoles will help them last longer and perform better. Take the time to clean them regularly, and make sure that you let them dry completely before wearing them again.

Link to article on why everyone needs insoles [RE1]

Link to article on medical conditions that insoles could help with [RE2]

Have High Arches? Here’s How to Support Them

Did you know that only 60% of the world’s population has what we’d call “perfect feet?” Most of have less-than-perfect arches. They’re either too low, or too high. Over time, these arch issues can lead to some uncomfortable foot problems – like pain, calluses and plantar fasciitis.

Neutral arches (i.e. perfect feet) distribute your weight and pressure evenly so that no part of your foot is overburdened.

High arches are a different story. If you were to take an imprint of your high arches, you’d see that most of the weight and pressure is distributed between the ball of your foot and your heels. The arches experience virtually no pressure or shock.

As you can imagine, having all of that pressure on the ball and heel of your foot will cause pain.

What can you do to ease this pain and soreness? Sure, you can soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salt, but the relief is only temporary. The better option is to take steps to prevent the pain in the first place. That’s where shoe inserts  and orthotics come into play.

What Type of Arch Do You Have?

Before you run out and buy insoles for high arches, you need to make sure that you actually have high arches. If you don’t and you buy insoles for people with high arches, you’ll do more harm than good to your feet.

How can you tell what type of arch you have? One of the best ways is to perform what’s called a “wet test.”

For this test, you’ll need a piece of cardboard that’s long and wide enough to accommodate your entire foot.

  • Fill a bathtub or basin with water, and place the cardboard nearby. You don’t need a lot of water – just enough to soak your feet. Make sure that your entire foot is immersed in the water.
  • Step onto the cardboard with your wet foot, making sure that you’re applying a normal amount of pressure.

The imprint on the cardboard will tell you what type of arch you have.

Arch Types: Low, Neutral and High

There are three types of arches: low, neutral and high.

Let’s talk about each arch type in-depth, so you can properly analyze your imprint.

Low Arch, or Flat Foot

People with flat feet have very little arch definition. Their feet are flexible, but the arch sits very low to the ground.

Your imprint will show almost your entire foot.

Because these arches are more flexible, they tend to roll inwards (overpronation). They’re also more susceptible to arch pain, heel pain and plantar fasciitis.

About 20% of people in the world have flat feet, so you’re not alone. The best way to prevent pain and other foot issues is to wear insoles for flat feet.

Neutral Arch, or Medium Arch

People with a neutral, or medium, arch have biomechanically efficient feet. The arch is defined, and their feet are moderately flexible.

Your imprint will show a well-defined rearfoot and forefoot with half of your arch area.

Even people with a neutral arch are susceptible to foot problems, like pain and metatarsalgia, especially if they wear the wrong footwear.

People with neutral arches can still benefit from wearing insoles . Look for ones that offer arch support, shock absorption and cushioning.

High Arch

People with high arches have very rigid feet with a well-defined arch that sits high from the floor.

Your imprint will show mostly your heel and ball of your foot with little in the arch area.

High arches can cause heel pain, plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, arch strain, claw toes, calluses and other foot problems. Whenever you walk or run, your feet absorb most of the shock and impact. If you have high arches, you have less surface area to absorb that impact. The bulk of the pressure goes to your rearfoot and forefoot.

About 20% of the world’s population has high arches, so you’re not alone. The right orthotics or insoles can help prevent pain. Look for insoles with good arch support, like MindInSole  inserts, and strong cushioning.

Common High Arch Foot Problems

Pain is a common problem in people with high arches. You may get arch pain when you’re walking, running or even standing for too long.

You see, high arches put extra stress on your midfoot bones (metatarsals) because most of your weight is on the ball of your foot.

People with high arches may also have:

  • Corns and calluses on the heel, ball or side of the foot
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Arch stiffness and inflexibility

Supination is usually the cause of arch pain if you have high arches. Supination can put too much pressure on the muscles and joints in your foot, leg and ankle.

If supination is causing your arch pain, it may also be causing:

  • Knee pain
  • Iliotibial (IT) band pain
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Achilles tendonitis

People with severe supination are more likely to have heel spurs, ankle sprains and stress fractures.

Supination is one of the most common causes of high arch foot problems.

What to Look for When Choosing a High-Arch Insole

What type of insoles should you buy if you have high arches?

Arch Support

First and most importantly, you need to make sure that the insole has adequate arch support. Look for insoles that have rigid support to keep your foot properly positioned at all times. These might feel a little stiff at first, but you’ll get used to wearing them. The relief is worth the little bit of discomfort you’ll experience.

Cushioning

Feet with high arches need more cushioning along the ball and heel to absorb some of the shock and impact from walking and running.

Having extra cushioning in these areas may mean having to use a bulkier insole, but the trade-off is having less foot pain.

Full-Length

Because you’ll need extra cushioning in the heel and ball areas of the foot, you’ll want to make sure that you use full-length insoles. If you buy 3/4-length insoles, you won’t get all of the cushioning and support you need to prevent pain and discomfort.

FAQs About Insoles

A friend of mine asked me about the insoles I wear. She had been having issues with pain and some discomfort in her heels. Because I had been wearing insoles for years, I expected her to know just as much as I do about them. I mean, they completely transformed the way I walk – literally. I assumed that she – and everyone else – knew all about insoles and how they work.

As it turns out, I was wrong. I thought it would be helpful to put together a list of FAQs (frequently asked questions) and answer as many questions as I could.

Can I Wear Insoles for Non-Medical Reasons?

People buy and wear insoles for a variety of reasons, such as:

Some people wear insoles because they’re on their feet all day at work and need the extra cushioning and relief.

But you can wear insoles for non-medical reasons, too. Maybe you want to add some height (insoles can add an inch or two to your height), or maybe you just want your shoes to be more comfortable. If you wear high-heeled shoes, insoles can improve your stability, cushion your feet and provide much-needed support.

Some foot conditions, like minor foot injuries and plantar fasciitis can actually be prevented by just adding insoles to your shoes.

What Size Insoles Should I Buy?

Whenever I talk to people about insoles, the first question they ask is: What size should I buy?

Insoles are typically sold in size ranges. When you open the package, you’ll see lines or ridges for each size. These are guide lines for trimming. Yes, you’ll need to trim your insoles with scissors to fit your shoes. Although this does add an extra step, this design allows insoles to be sold on-the-cheap, and it actually allows for a more customized fit in the long-run.

If your shoe size falls in between two different size ranges, it’s best to buy the bigger size.

You don’t want to skip the trimming step if you’re buying full-size insoles. Trimming off the extra material will ensure that the insole fits properly in your shoes and will cover your foot entirely.

If you’re buying 3/4-length insoles, you won’t have to do any trimming. These are sold to fit, so there’s no cutting involved.

What are Insoles Made Of?

Insoles can be made from a wide variety of materials. Foam and gel are the two most popular materials, but you’ll also find some that are made of cork or leather.

Foam is so popular because it provides cushioning, pressure relief and support all while conforming to your foot’s natural shape. When designed properly, foam can also give you rigid arch support.

Gel is ideal for shock absorption, which is why they’re often found in athletic-focused insoles.

You’ll find a lot of insoles that are made of both foam and gel.

Cork provides both support and cushioning. Leather feels nice on the foot, especially if you like to wear thin socks. But leather is usually only used to support other materials, like foam or cork.

When choosing your shoe inserts , consider the material carefully, particularly if you’re sensitive to some materials.

Are There Insoles Made for Athletes?

If you’re an active person, whether it’s running, hiking or playing a sport, your feet probably take a beating. Intense physical activity puts excess strain on the feet. Shock absorption and some extra cushioning can go a long way in making your feet feel better.

You’ll find some insoles that are designed specifically for active people and offer these features.

You’ll also find orthotic inserts , which are custom-designed, and made for athletes. Orthotics improve your alignment while increasing your speed and efficacy.

The insole may be made of cork or foam, depending on whether you need cushioned arch support or a rigid base for complete arch support. Most will have gel for shock absorption and allow for a softer landing when you’re active.

How do I Care for My Insoles?

It’s important to take care of your insoles if you want them to last. I’ve written an entire post on how to take care of insoles , but the process is relatively simple.

One thing I do have to stress is that you don’t want to submerge or dip your insoles in water. A cloth-covered or foam-cushioned insole is particularly vulnerable to water damage. That’s why spot-cleaning is recommended.

Here’s how:

  • Fill a small bowl with warm water and mild soap.
  • Dip a clean sponge in the cleaning solution.
  • Use the sponge to gently clean the insole.
  • Dry with a clean cloth.
  • Allow to air dry overnight.

It’s important to allow your insoles to dry completely before you wear them again. If you need to wear them the next day, clean them the night before.

Make sure that you use a mild soap. Avoid using silicone-based cleaning products, as they may ruin the material.

If your insoles ever get waterlogged from the rain or snow, dry them with a clean towel and lay them flat to dry. Again, make sure that you let them dry out completely before you wear them again.

Do I Have to Replace the Standard Insoles with My New Ones?

If you’re buying insoles, you’ll probably need to remove the ones that came with your shoes – especially if you’re buying full-length insoles. If you don’t remove the standard ones, your shoes won’t fit properly and will probably feel bulky or uncomfortable.

Don’t worry – the new insoles will provide more support and cushioning than the ones that came with your shoes.

If you’re buying 3/4-length insoles, then you’ll need to keep the ones that came with your shoes. Because these are not full-length insoles, they’ll only cover a small part of your shoe.

What are Heat-Moldable Insoles?

Our feet are unique. Even if you and I wore the same sized shoe, our feet would still be different. They may be different heights, shapes or widths.

Because our feet are unique, over-the-counter insoles aren’t ideal for everyone. Heat-moldable insoles are custom-made and take the shape of your foot.

Before wearing these insoles, you’ll heat them up in the oven for a while. Then, you’ll step on them before they cool down. This creates a perfect mold of your foot so that your insert fits properly when you wear it.

Can You Buy Insoles in Pairs?

Yes. Insoles are usually sold in pairs and should be worn in pairs to ensure that both of your feet receive the same level of care.

Corns and Calluses: The Causes and How to Treat Them

Do you have corns or calluses on your feet? You’re not alone. I get them, too. And while I’m a bit embarrassed about them, I know that they’re common and they can be treated.

One thing I didn’t know – and maybe you didn’t either – is that corns and calluses can actually develop on any part of the body, including the bottoms of the feet, the hands and the elbows.

Calluses and corns are completely harmless, but if they’re causing you discomfort, there are many ways to treat them. Knowing their causes can also help prevent them from developing in the future.

What Causes Corns and Calluses?

Calluses and corns are caused by friction and pressure, but pinpointing the causes of this friction and pressure can be tricky.

Here are some common culprits:

  • Poorly-Fitting Shoes: If your shoes don’t fit properly, you may have certain areas of the feet rubbing up against the inner edges of the shoes. This will cause friction and pressure that can lead to calluses and corns. If your shoes are too big, your feet will slide around and rub up against the interior of the shoe. If your shoes are too small, it will put extra pressure on the tops and bottoms of your feet.
  • Not Wearing Socks: It may be tempting to just throw on a pair of shoes without socks and go run some errands, but doing this can cause all kinds of foot problems. Socks act as an extra layer of protection against friction and pressure, but they also help keep your feet dry. Without them, you may develop athlete’s foot in addition to corns and calluses.

Although you can get calluses and corns anywhere on the body, we’re going to focus on the feet in this article.

Common Symptoms of Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses usually have the same symptoms, which is why most people think they’re the same thing.

These symptoms include:

  • Hardened, raised bumps
  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Pain or tenderness under the skin
  • Rough or thick skin

While both of these foot issues have the same symptoms, they’re actually two very different things.

  • Corns: Corns typically develop on non-weight-bearing areas of the feet, such as between and on top of the toes. They’re small in size, but they can be quite painful if you squeeze them.
  • Calluses: Calluses cause areas of thick, hardened skin. They’re rarely painful, which is why most people don’t bother treating them. They tend to develop on the soles of the feet, heels and the balls of the feet.

Most people will develop corns and calluses at least once in their lives. I know that I tend to get calluses when I wear new shoes that haven’t been broken in yet.

Preventing Corns and Calluses

While it’s impossible to completely prevent corns and calluses, you can take steps to reduce the chances.

Keeping the feet clean, dry and moisturized is a good start. Other preventative measures include:

  • Wear properly-fitting shoes. If your shoes don’t fit properly, you greatly increase your risk of developing corns and calluses. It may be worth the cost to buy new shoes and have your feet measured by a professional.
  • Wear protective coverings. Protective coverings can also help prevent the formation of corns and calluses. Felt pads can be placed in the spots where your feet rub against your shoes. If necessary, you can also wear toe separators inside of your shoes to prevent some of the friction and pressure that’s causing these issues.
  • Keeping your feet moisturized will help reduce friction and pressure. Try applying lotion or cream after bathing to keep your feet hydrated.
  • Soak Your Feet. Soaking your feet in warm water will help soften the skin, which can make it easier to remove the corn or callus.
  • Pumice Stone. You can thin the thickened skin on your feet by using a pumice stone. Please don’t use a sharp object to trim down the skin, and don’t use a pumice stone if you have diabetes.

Wearing the right shoes, taking good care of your feet, and using protective coverings can all help prevent corns and calluses.

Treating Corns and Calluses

Before I talk about treating your corns and calluses at home, I want to remind you that it’s important to talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing foot pain. Yes, corns can be painful at times, but they shouldn’t cause chronic foot pain.

If you’re not dealing with pain, there are a few ways to treat corns and calluses.

  • Shoe inserts are one of the best ways to treat and prevent corns and calluses. They can alleviate pressure while helping prevent friction. You can also get custom orthotics if you need special sizing or a foot deformity that needs to be corrected.
  • Most pharmacies carry over-the-counter patches for corns and calluses. These patches use a form of acid that softens the skin and eventually eats away at the corn or callus. You can use a pumice stone to rub away the dead skin.
  • It’s possible that your doctor may want to trim away or pare down excess skin. The trimming process will remove the hardest layer of skin and allow your foot to start healing. You’ll need to figure out (and fix) whatever is causing your friction and pressure issues if you want to prevent your corns and calluses from returning.

These are the most effective ways to treat corns and calluses. I found that using medicated patches and wearing insoles, like MindInSole , worked best for getting rid of my calluses. The patches softened the skin, and eventually, my calluses disappeared. But the inserts helped prevent them from coming back.

Corns and calluses can be uncomfortable and unsightly, but you don’t have to live with them forever. The trick is to find out the cause, and to take steps to fix the issue so that they don’t come back. You may need to buy new shoes, or you may just need a little extra cushioning to prevent pressure and friction.

10 Simple Tips for Diabetic Foot Care

Foot care is important for diabetics. Without proper care, diabetes can cause two problems that affect the feet: peripheral vascular disease and diabetic neuropathy.

Peripheral vascular disease occurs when there’s poor blood flow to the arms and legs, which makes it difficult for infections to heal and increases the risk of gangrene and ulcers.

Diabetic neuropathy occurs when uncontrolled diabetes damages the nerves. When nerves are damaged in the feet, it can cause your feet to feel hot, cold or pain.

Diabetes can cause a number of other foot issues, including corns, calluses, bunions, ulcers, hammertoes and ingrown toenails. Taking good care of your feet can help prevent these foot issues.

Here are 10 simple tips for diabetic foot care.

1. Inspect Your Feet Daily

It’s hard to prevent or treat a foot issue if you never actually look at your feet. If you have diabetes, you should check your feet every single day and look for the following:

  • Dry skin
  • Cracked skin
  • Discoloration
  • Sores
  • Signs of corns, calluses or bunions

It’s not always easy to see the bottoms of our feet. A mirror can help you see and look for issues in this area of the foot.

2. Wear Loose-Fitting Shoes

I always recommend wearing properly-fitting shoes, but if you’re a diabetic, you may want to buy shoes that are more loose-fitting.

It’s very common for diabetics (and just about everyone else) to have issues with their feet swelling. Loose-fitting shoes give you a little wiggle room so that your feet can swell without putting extra pressure on your feet.

When you go to buy a new pair of shoes, I highly recommend that you wait until later in the day. Your feet swell as you go through your day. If you wait until later, the swelling will be at its highest level, and you’ll be able to see how your feet really fit in your shoes.

3. Wear Insoles

I highly recommend wearing insoles if you have diabetes or just suffer from foot pain in general. Thin insoles tend to work best because they provide cushioning and support without taking up too much room in your shoes.

I like MindInSole  because it gives your foot a little massage with every step you take. It’s also on the thin side, so you don’t have to worry about buying a bigger shoe just to accommodate your insole.

4. Listen to Your Doctor

Diabetes can affect people in different ways. That’s why it’s so important to listen to your doctor’s recommendations when taking care of your feet.

If you’re experiencing foot pain, your doctor will recommend medication or another treatment to help ease your symptoms. But if you ignore or don’t follow your doctor’s recommendations, you may wind up making the problem worse or experiencing burning pain in your feet.

Always follow your doctor’s advice when caring for your feet.

5. Keep Your Feet Clean

It may seem like an obvious tip, but many people forget to do it: wash your feet. It’s important to give your feet a little extra love and care when you have diabetes, so don’t ignore them when you’re showering or bathing.

When you’re done cleaning your feet, make sure that you dry them well, especially the toenails and the areas between the toes.

After you’re done cleaning your feet, apply a thin layer of moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated and soft. Dry skin is more prone to cracking and friction injuries.

When applying moisturizer, make sure that you avoid the areas between the toes. Just focus on the tops of and bottoms of your feet.

6. Wear the Right Socks

Many doctors recommend wearing socks all of the time – even when you sleep. Moisture-wicking socks will help keep your feet dry, which will prevent athlete’s foot and other issues. Socks also offer a little extra protection from calluses and corns  because they prevent friction.

If you want a little extra help in the blood circulation department, you may want to consider compression socks.

7. Always Wear Shoes

It may sound like an inconvenience, but wearing shoes at all times will help prevent pain and other foot issues.

Diabetics should never walk barefoot, even when they’re indoors. Something as small as a stub on a coffee table can cause a very serious foot ulcer.

If you’re walking barefoot on the pavement, grass or sand, glass, seashells and sharp stones can break the skin and possibly lead to an infection.

If you have neuropathy or circulation issues that dull the sensation in your feet, it can be really dangerous to walk on hot pavement. You may not be able to tell that the ground is too hot, so you can easily burn the bottoms of your feet.

8. Visit Your Podiatrist Regularly

One of the biggest mistakes that diabetics make is not seeing their podiatrist. It’s important to see your general physician, but a podiatrist specializes in foot health and can offer specialized care for your feet.

They understand how diabetes affects the feet, and it’s their job to help you prevent some of the most common foot issues diabetics face, including corns, calluses and bunions.

If you’re having issues with your feet, a podiatrist should be one of the first people you visit.

9. Keep Your Feet Elevated When Sitting

Poor blood flow is a big problem for people with diabetes. You can help combat this problem by keeping your feet elevated when you sit. Don’t forget to wiggle your toes and move your ankles around.

Try elevating your feet a few times a day for at least five minutes. Try to avoid crossing your legs for long periods of time, as this will disrupt the blood flow to your legs and feet.

10. Exercise Smartly

Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help keep your diabetes under control. Some people find that lifestyle changes, medication and losing weight eliminates virtually all of their symptoms. In rare cases, people have reversed their diabetes.

But when you’re creating your workout routine, it’s important to be smart about the exercises you choose.

Hard impact exercises, like jumping, can be really hard on the feet and joints. You don’t want to put extra stress on the feet or cause even more swelling. Plus, you’ll also increase the risk of developing ulcers.

Try taking a different approach to exercise. Swim, or use the elliptical instead of a treadmill. These exercises will still allow you to burn serious calories without jeopardizing your foot health.

4 Foot-related Conditions That Orthotic Inserts Can Correct

If you’re suffering from foot pain, orthotic inserts  can help. A lot of people assume that these insoles are only going to offer moderate padding and don’t really target actual foot conditions.

You’re completely wrong.

Inserts can help tackle some of the most common foot conditions.

You need to know which insoles to buy.

But the right insoles will be able to help, and in many circumstances, correct the foot-related conditions that you’re suffering with on a daily basis.

Conditions That Orthotic Inserts Can Alleviate

1. Plantar Fasciitis

Heel pain that doesn’t seem to go away. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the thick band of tissue in your foot, that runs from the heel to the toes, called the plantar fascia, becomes inflamed. The pain may be mild at first, but for a lot of people, that pain will become stabbing.

If you’re a runner, the risk of plantar fasciitis is even more common.

People that have mild forms of this condition will notice that their heel hurts the most during their first few steps in the morning. Long periods of sitting or standing may also lead to more inflammation and pain in the heel.

The right insoles will be able to help with shock absorption in the heel and will support the foot’s arch.

Tension and stress on the fascia will be reduced.

2. Flat Feet

Do you have flat feet? A lot of people do, and the reason is that the foot’s arch has become flattened. Some people never develop the proper foot arch that is supposed to develop naturally.

Normally, in a person’s teens, they will stop developing their foot arch, and if not developed properly, the condition will cause them pain in the future.

Others will lose their foot’s arch over time, causing increased pain. As the arch flattens, it will become a chronic condition that will last for the person’s lifetime. You can find insoles that will be able to help alleviate the pain through:

  • Arch support
  • Structural support
  • Stretching the foot’s arch

A person can normally diagnose the condition on their own. Millions of people are diagnosed annually with flat feet, so there are ample inserts on the market that aim to tackle flat feet. It’s a huge, lucrative market.

If insoles do not correct your flat feet, you can contact a doctor who will provide additional advice on how to fix your flat feet. The doctor will often recommend insoles or custom orthotics which will target the foot’s arch.

In the most severe of cases, flat feet can cause severe pain and even disability.

3. Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is a common condition that is also tendon-related. This condition occurs in the tendon, known as the Achilles, that runs down the back of your lower leg. The tendon will become inflamed and irritated.

Swelling, pain and irritation will exist.

When the body responds to an injury or disease, it will cause pain and swelling. There are two main types of this condition:

  1. Noninsertional
  2. Insertional

One involves the middle of the tendon, while the other deals with the lower portion of the tendon. Repetitive stress to the tendon is the cause of the condition, and this may be due to:

  • Overuse
  • Increased use

For example, if you started running recently, this could have put stress on the tendon, causing pain. The right insoles will provide support for the foot, relieve common stress on the tendon and provide relief over time. You should also try to avoid high-impact activities that put excess stress on the tendon.

Low-impact exercises are ideal.

4. Foot Rolling or Overpronation

Do your feet roll? Sometimes a person’s foot will roll outward or inward, and this is a pronation issue. Overpronation is very common, and it’s often caused by weak ankle muscles or flat feet. When a person walks, their foot may roll, which can lead to strain on tendons or even damaged tendons.

The arches of the foot will roll inward or outward, and this is often a result of flat feet.

The body’s natural alignment is disrupted due to overpronation, and the impact when the foot hits the ground is increased. Pronation often occurs when the person is standing, and a look at their ankle will be able to help you identify pronation issues.

If the ankle is inward or outward, it’s a pronation issue.

Overuse injuries are very common with foot rolling, and this condition can cause:

  • Back pain
  • Stress fractures
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Bunions
  • Shin splints

A variety of conditions can be caused by overpronation. Insoles will be able to help stop overpronation, keeping the foot and body in natural alignment. The result is a foot that is no longer in pain and allows a person to stand with their feet properly aligned.

What Happens If Insoles Do Not Help Me?

Insoles are a great solution to the foot pain people suffer from, but they’re not a miracle cure for every foot condition. You’ll have to see if insoles help you or not. The trick is to give your insoles a good try.

A lot of people try them for a few hours and just assume that they do not work.

You need to give these insoles much more than just a few hours to see if they work. Your foot condition developed over time, and it’s not something that will be fixed automatically. People with plantar fasciitis state that they can find relief in a few days of normal wear.

If you’re lucky, you may be able to find relief in just a few days.

The key is to try the insoles for a week or two before deciding that they’re not helping you. And you’ll need to do this with your shoes on. If you stand and walk around barefoot the majority of the day, insoles will not help you.

When in doubt, if inserts are not providing you with pain relief, you’ll want to consult with your doctor. The doctor will be able to better diagnose the condition that is causing your foot pain. Oftentimes, a custom orthotic will offer relief when an over-the-counter insole doesn’t help.