Accessories Insoles By John and Ellen Macaully / March 31, 2015 People who suffer with flat feet are always looking for ways to relieve the discomfort. Wearing the correct shoes and insoles go a long way to achieving this. But what makes a good insole for flat feet? Obviously there are many companies selling and marketing their insoles as being great for flat feet. But before you make a decision, let’s take a closer look at what flat feet is, and what makes a good insole for flat feet. Firstly, there is no clear cut ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when asking if an insole will correct your flat feet. Everyone’s feet are slightly different, and there are varying degrees of how severely people are affected by the condition. Also, you need to be aware that having a different insole is not a complete cure for flat feet. Correcting the position of your feet in shoes will relieve a lot of the pain however. The different shapes of feet has been recognised for decades, with different shoes, arch support inserts and insoles being available for some time. Technology is always advancing however, and there is more selection now than ever before for people suffering with flat feet. To decide if an insole for flat feet will help you, you first need to understand what flat feet are and if you have the condition. Contents1 What Are Flat Feet?2 What Causes Flat Feet?3 Symptoms of Flat Feet4 Ways to Relieve Flat Feet5 Choosing the Right Insole for Flat Feet What Are Flat Feet? Flat feet are not uncommon, and can be found in children or developed as an adult. Feet are designed to have a longitudinal curve in the middle, known as an arch. This arch is held by tendons and ligaments joined by the bones in the foot and the heel. Tendons in the bottom of the leg work with the tendons in the foot to pull and form the arch of the foot. If there is no arch in the foot however, this is known as flat feet. It usually affects both feet, but can also be limited to one foot. The lack of arch support can cause many other complications for people with this condition, and if not treated properly the condition will worsen and cause further damage. What Causes Flat Feet? In many cases, flat feet is a hereditary condition. But it can also be cause by any of the following: Wearing shoes with insufficient arch support for long periods Walking or standing for long periods while wearing high heels Damage to the muscles in the feet from excessive strain Dislocations or fractures Over-stretched tendons Birth defect The risk of developing flat feet as an adult is greatly increased by obesity, pregnancy, diabetes and aging. Symptoms of Flat Feet The most common symptom is continued pain and discomfort, in particular around the heel and arch area of the foot. You should always seek professional advice before determining if you have flat feet, but it’s a relatively easy diagnosis for a doctor to make. Long durations of standing and walking can be very uncomfortable for people with collapsed arches, often causing swelling in the feet. Because there is less support on the arch, there is an increase in pressure across the rest of the foot. A fallen arch can also put strain on the tendons and ligaments in the leg and foot. Flat feet are also believed to be a cause of pain in the legs, hips, and even the back. Ways to Relieve Flat Feet There is not one stop cure for flat feet, and everyone is affected to a different degree. But there are ways for everyone to soothe the symptoms, and it’s strongly recommended you do something to stop the condition worsening. A podiatrists will usually suggest the following: Using shoe insoles designed to help with flat feet, or arch support inserts Buying running shoes for flat feet if you run for exercise Using pain medications Performing stretching exercises Tending to swelling with ice packs Physical therapy Wearing the correct shoes, and fitting the correct insole for flat feet can make a massive difference. Foot arch pain can be relieved by finding the correct fitting footwear, and taking the time to carry out any exercise prescribed by your doctor. A doctor will often suggest physical therapy, there are a range of stretches that can alleviate some of the pain. It is just as important to take care and limit causing any additional pain. There are some of the causes that are within your control, such as obesity and your general health. Avoiding high-impact sports and standing for long periods is also recommended where possible. Choosing the Right Insole for Flat Feet There are a lot of shoes for flat feet available on the market, but you’re much better off finding an insole to suit your needs. There are a lot of insoles on the market and it can be confusing choosing the right one at first. You’re looking for an insole that is not too flexible, or too rigid. If the insole is too firm if will not absorb enough of the shock from impact, while an insole that is too soft will not give your foot the required support. When you run, or even just walk, shock is generated from your foot hitting the floor. This shock travels through your foot, the joints in your body, and up into your back. This will cause problems over time to the joints, so choosing the right insole is very important. Over the counter insoles can work well for most people, but you need to try many to find the right fit. Remember as mentioned earlier, everyone’s feet are different and as such have different requirements. Trying out the insoles will give a much better fit than ordering what you think is your appropriate size without trying it.