An athlete’s guide to shoe insoles

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For athletes who are always on the lookout for any training accessories that may provide distinct advantages, footwear tends to be high on the list of priorities for maximizing performance. In addition to having shoes that are specifically designed to adhere to the types of workouts you’re partaking in, owning a quality pair of insoles can not only help you get the most out of your exercises, but may also reduce your odds of experiencing an injury as well. However, there are dozens of various insoles that vastly range in price, making purchasing customized orthotics generally a difficult investment to assess. Before you go out and spend money on these potentially beneficial footwear accessories, here’s what athletes need to know when considering the options for shoe insoles:

Why insoles can help

Insoles can be more than just accessories that promote extra comfort for feet. Orthotics can be customized to provide more support for your feet, allowing for pressure to be evenly distributed so joints aren’t continuously stressed during physical activity. Shoe insoles can also be specifically designed to be effective with your sport of choice, whether it’s orthotics that are used for long distance runners or basketball players who need more support on the court. Because there are 26 bones and 20 muscles in your foot, insoles that cater support to specific regions of a foot can provide benefits for athletes who constantly put pressure on particular areas due to the required movements for the activity they’re performing. In addition to the feet, insoles are noted for helping other areas of the body as well. Feet First Clinic states that regular usage of shoe insoles can also alleviate back and knee pain as a result of proper positioning of bones in the toes and feet. In the end, the ultimate advantages posed by wearing insoles can be traced to boosting comfort and potentially reducing injury risk.

No long-term investment

While there may be insole companies that promise you’ll get plenty of longevity and usage from your insoles, it’s generally recommended that insoles should not be continuously worn for long stretches of time. A good rule of thumb to consider when weighing insole options is that the more you use them, the quicker they’ll need to be replaced due to excessive wear and tear. Wearing insoles for too long will only diminish their support and cushioning capabilities for the feet, so trying out less expensive models prior to making bigger investments may be necessary to gauge how much help you actually need.

Types of insoles

There are also several types of insoles that will cater to your specific foot needs during physical activity. Athletes who are simply looking for more pain relief on their feet might benefit from adding some comfort insoles, which primarily are sold in gel or foam materials that emphasize cushioning rather than distribution of pressure. Comfort insoles feature more shock absorption technology, which minimizes the impact upon your feet with every step you take. Support insoles are what are generally able to cater to athletes better, as they feature harder materials designed to support your bones and muscles in the feet. These are the types of orthotics that are recommended for people recovering from various ailments, such as plantar fasciitis, which is the inflammation of tissue that spans along the bottom of your foot toward the heel. These types of insoles come in many types of structures that can redistribute pressure, which in turn frees up tension in multiple other areas of the body, such as the knees, back or hips. If you’re more concerned about which types of insoles can alleviate a particular ailment you’re suffering from, consult with an orthopedic doctor about possible recommendations.

Fitting and caring tips

After you have the right design of insole to cater to your workout, knowing the proper fitting and caring procedures is the next step to maximizing orthotic performance. Take your insole out of the package and stand on it by itself, without inserting it into the shoe. Slowly rub your feet into the material, so the insole will begin to shape itself around your foot. After you’ve placed the insole into a shoe, make sure you feel that the orthotic is secure and stable. If you notice that it’s slipping around, you’ll probably need a bigger size.

Depending on the quality or material, the average insole will begin to lose its effectiveness after 12 months of regular usage. During this time, the best way to keep them at top performance is to air them out after any workout or exercise routine. Try washing them once a week, which is a general way to avoid any chance of bacteria buildup. If comfort and stability continue to be an issue for the insoles, it’s probably time to switch them out or upgrade.