Best Insoles for Plantar Fasciitis
You’ve got painful plantar fasciitis... Urgh! Someone has recommended using insoles, but what are they; can they help alleviate plantar fasciitis, and which are the best insoles for plantar fasciitis? This article will answer all of these questions and get you running faster than Usain Bolt... Well, maybe not that last bit.
What Are Insoles?
Insoles are simply the foot-shaped inner lining of a shoe. All shoes have them, and the type of material used varies depending on the purpose. For example, walking boots might have insoles that offer extra cushioning and gym shoes might have insoles that claim to keep odors at bay, but most insoles are removable and easy to replace with other off-the-shelf varieties or with custom made insoles prescribed by a podiatrist.
Insoles or Orthotics?
Ever wondered what the difference is between insoles and orthotics? Well, the terms appear to be interchangeable at times but, generally speaking, an insole is designed to provide cushioning, shock absorption and comfort while an orthotic insole aims to promote improved foot function and thereby alleviate or prevent the pain resulting from problems such as flat feet or overpronation.
Can Insoles Help Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is the result of damage to the soft tissue (fascia) forming the sole of your foot.
For runners, this can occur with a sudden increase in training or mileage, or by wearing running shoes that provide inadequate arch support.
To prevent a reoccurrence after appropriate rest and recovery, it’s important to ensure that footwear offers adequate arch support, a shock-absorbing heel, and cushioning under the ball of the foot – and this is where insoles can help.
Research has concluded that appropriate insoles and orthotics can contribute to distribute body weight evenly, support foot arches, and absorb shock when walking or running, with one study revealing that off-the-shelf insoles helped to reduce plantar fascia stress by up to 34 per cent.
Advantages of Insoles for Plantar Fasciitis
The big advantage of wearing insoles to help manage and prevent plantar fasciitis is that they effectively provide a new base under your feet, helping to correct the biomechanical issues that led to the condition flaring up in the first place – and all without having to invest in a new pair of shoes.
Off-the-shelf orthotic insoles can offer the support and comfort you need to help manage the pain of plantar fasciitis as you get back on your feet.
This makes insoles an affordable solution for aiding recovery, but custom orthotics prescribed by a podiatrist can also be hugely beneficial regarding correcting imbalances and gait abnormalities such as over-pronation, and thereby preventing a reoccurrence as you get back into running.
When Good Insoles Go Bad
But, insoles are not for everyone. An orthotic insole that’s designed to offer practical arch support is going to take a little getting used to, and not all insoles fit neatly into your favorite style of running shoe.
Fallen arches, flat footedness, and over-pronation are often precursors to plantar fasciitis, and these conditions require the support of a semi-rigid or rigid arch support – and, let’s be honest, the words stiff and comfort don’t always go together! One recommendation is to place a thin foam insole on top of a rigid arch support to increase comfort, but the downside of this is that there may no longer be room for your foot in a snug fitting shoe.
Best Insoles for Plantar Fasciitis
There’s a bewildering array of insoles for plantar fasciitis on the market but, with the above in mind, finding an insole that fits your foot, your shoe, and is comfortable to wear is the key to success.
The best choice for you will ultimately come down to the shape of your feet and the degree of support you need, but the following brands score well in a variety of independent reviews.
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The Green insole made by Superfeet consistently scores well in reviews, rating highly with newcomers to orthotic insoles who have found other styles uncomfortable to wear. They offer a lower profile compared to many other brands, allowing them to fit comfortably into most shoe types, and the higher than average price tag is offset by the above average durability in everyday use.
The Pinnacle insole made by Powerstep offers a comfortable mix of firm arch support and soft cushioning, making it a popular choice for those needing to alleviate plantar fasciitis pain as they get back on the road to recovery.
The Stride insole made by Tread Labs is designed to offer arch support and pronation control. They are available in four arch heights, helping wearers to find the best fit for their needs, making them a popular choice with runners determined to make plantar fasciitis a thing of the past.
Best Foot Forward
We’ve all heard the expression, “prevention is better than cure,” and wearing good quality, supportive footwear that’s designed to suit your running style along with following a progressive training programme, rather than randomly doubling your workload or mileage in the space of a week, is the way forwards if you want to avoid the pain of plantar fasciitis.
The damage to the plantar fascia that causes the pain can also be treated effectively at home by following a program of exercises designed to strengthen the injured soft tissues, which, in turn, will have you up on your toes and sprinting like Usain Bolt… Well, maybe not that last bit, but hey, it’s good to have a dream!