Cocktail parties, work conferences, festivals, sporting events — there are endless occasions where you spend hours on your feet. If you’re someone with flat feet, you probably cringe every time you hear words like “walking tour” or “all day trade show.” Luckily, the best insoles for flat feet can help alleviate your pain.
Before shopping for insoles, however, it’s important to understand the root of your soreness. According to Dr. Cassandra Tomczak, Foot and Ankle Surgeon with Summit Orthopaedics in Portland, Oregon, having flat feet isn’t a problem in itself. It’s that your flat feet create calf and hamstring tightness which then limits your ankle motion, causing other muscles to compensate and creating stress throughout your foot.
This is why stretching will help immensely. According to Tomczak, doing exercises to lengthen your calves and hamstrings as well as strengthen your foot muscles will work wonders. You can also ice your feet twice a day and take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen or aspirin, she said. Doing these things in conjunction with wearing insoles will be your most effective therapy.
When shopping for insoles, there are a lot of things to consider. The most important thing is to make sure that the size is a good fit for both the length and width of your feet. The closer the shape of the insole is to the shape of your actual foot, the more effective it will be.
Jeff Gray, a certified pedorthist and Director of Outreach and Fit at Superfeet insoles, explained that your foot is like a shock absorber on a car. With flat feet, they often stay compressed — or pronated — for longer than normal. Similar to if a shock absorber were fully compressed upon impact from another car, your feet essentially "bottom out" from the impact of your body overhead. Insoles create a natural shock absorber to soften that impact. That's why it's so important that they fit right. And since fit can vary widely from running shoes to work boots, you should consider the type of footwear you'll be wearing, too.
And finally, the last tip Tomczak shared with me was to keep in mind that your feet will need time to adjust to new insoles, so you shouldn't wear them every day at first.