No matter what type of shoe you sport -- from elegantly-heeled pumps to chunky boots -- it's tough to look stylish if you're not comfortable. Inserts and orthotics provide a useful, short-term solution to boost your overall comfort level, but you may be wondering how to choose one when the market is flooded with different types. While there's no end-all, be-all rule to landing the perfect insole, some basic tips will help you get the most comfort for your buck.
Select a comfort insole, a soft shoe insert made of gel or compressible foam, for shoes that you use for day-to-day activities, such as light walking or working in an office environment. This type of insole may also ease light pains in the heel or ball of the foot.
Choose a support insole if your shoe commonly causes you discomfort or foot pain, or if you tend to overpronate your foot. This happens if you roll your feet as they strike the ground; you can tell if you're an overpronator by inspecting your shoes for wear on the inner sides. Support insoles are sportier -- they're sometimes even packaged as “sport” insoles -- and feature hard materials for added stability. These insoles cater to fitness and outdoor activities.
Test insoles before buying them, if possible. Stand on one foot on the insole -- just the insert by itself, not in the shoe -- and get a feel for your stability, and for the pressure the insole exerts on your foot. If you feel supported and stable and, in the case of contoured insoles, the insole cups around your heel without clipping it, you've found a good fit.
Clean your insoles with mild soap and warm water, scrubbing them lightly with a toothbrush. Let them air dry completely before use. Maintaining your inserts in such a way helps extend their life and ward off odor.
Trim the toe portion of your insoles, following their natural contour to customize their fit. Use sharp scissors, and cut enough from the toe so that the insole has a little wiggle room. For the best fit, there should be a space about the width of a nickel between the toe of your shoe and the toe of the insert.
Tips and Warnings
Insoles and orthotics are only effective for short-term comfort. Different people react differently to inserts as far as comfort goes, but insoles are no substitute for medical attention when it comes to serious mechanically-induced foot problems.
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