Have you splurged on a pair of shoes based on their gorgeous good looks alone? Perhaps they felt comfortable enough
Have you splurged on a pair of shoes based on their gorgeous good looks alone? Perhaps they felt comfortable enough
A few months ago, Mark Paigen of Tread Labs reached out to see if I’d be interested in trying out
Do you have a pair of Vionic shoes or sandals that you love? Your devotion to the brand probably has
Sometimes even the best footwear requires you to wear special insoles known as orthotics or extra pads in your shoes to be comfortable. Especially if you’re one of the many women who may have a painful foot condition like plantar fasciitis or hallux rigidus. To help you find the right orthotics and the right shoes to wear with them, we’ve gathered more information about orthotics, some specific brands of over-the-counter orthotics to consider and even some shoes, boots and sandals, that win style points while still allowing you to add your insole if needed.
According to the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, “Orthotics are devices that are worn to correct foot and ankle problems without surgery.” Orthotics, also known as insoles, can be made of a variety of materials and some even have gel inside. Basically, they slip inside your footwear, often replacing the insole that came with the shoe. According to AOFAS, “Treatment can often begin with less expensive off-the-shelf orthotics and progress to a custom (prescription) orthotic if the diagnosis and symptoms require it.”
So where do you start if you need to add an orthotic to your shoes? We’re here to help! Kirsten Borrink, the founder of barkingdogshoes.com is all-too familiar with orthotics. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis early in her teaching career. Her painful feet required her to use orthotics in most of her footwear. Eventually the RA damage led her to undergo fusion surgery in her forefoot which meant she no longer needed the inserts. But her experience gives her unique insight into what to look for in orthotics and which shoes allow you to easily slip in an insole.
Let’s go over a few specific orthotics that we at barkingdogshoes.com have tested out and that our readers tell us may help relieve the discomfort of foot conditions.
You should also check out our review of Tread Labs semi-custom insoles. They offer the firm support of a custom orthotic at a much lower cost. The semi-custom fit has a proven track record for relieving plantar fasciitis.
Did you know they make dress orthotics especially for wearing heels? If your feet allow you to wear a higher heel we’ve got orthotics that can help provide support. Here are a few options we’ve reviewed on our blog:
First up are Superfeet dress insoles. You can order them from Zappos and Amazon. They are ¾ length so you may consider adding HAPA metatarsal pads which may further help with pain relief and support. Metatarsal pads or met pads help support the tiny arches that run across your feet, in the spot right behind the balls of your feet. Met pads can help support and keep your toe bones in the proper position.
Next is the Powerstep Slenderfit comes with metatarsal cushioning and is designed to cradle your heel and support your entire foot. It has a grippy underside to help it stay in place.
And finally, reviewers give high marks to the Vionic Dress Slimfit as an insert for heals. You can find this Vionic orthotic on Amazon. It comes with a built in rear foot angle to help realign your feet. One reviewer notes these inserts end right before the toes so they can work for peep toe styles of heels and shoes as well. And speaking of shoes, let’s move on to shoes we love that actually play nice with orthotics!
One of the biggest issues with orthotics is figuring out which shoes may allow you to add them without pinching your toes or squishing your feet. Some shoes come with insoles that can be pulled out to make the room you need. We call them “orthotic friendly”
Here’s a tip: When shopping for shoes in the store, reach into the potential shoe and see if you can pull out the insole that comes with it. If so, you know you’ll be able to fit that orthotic more easily. If you’re shopping online, many manufacturers will now say if the shoe has a removable insole. Some like Zappos have even added entire categories of shoes that are orthotic friendly.
Here is some information on brands and styles you might like.
The Romika Citytex ankle boot is a casual, stylish, waterproof (yes we said waterproof!) choice for commuters and soccer moms everywhere. And its orthotic friendly as well.
On more casual days or to join the sneaker trend, you may like the comfy stylish look of Converse and Ked sneakers. But if you’re a gal with problem feet you likely need more support than a pancake-flat sneaker can provide. If you’re looking for orthotic friendly sneaks, we suggest the Taos Star. This shoe has both trendy style and can accomodate an orthotic. Find this sneaker at Zappos, Taosfootwear.com, Amazon, and The Walking Company. Also check out the Keen Elsa sneaker in our reviews of comfortable shoes for spring.
For ladies with plantar fasciitis and other foot problems, it can be nice to slip that orthotic into an extremely comfortable shoe while at home or when working around the house. Here is an orthotic-friendly slipper that may work. The Giesswein Veitsch slipper has a removable foot bed to accommodate an orthotic. These Italian made slippers come in boiled wool. Reviewers compare them to the support in Birkenstocks.
Boots, especially tall boots can be tricky to fit orthotics into. But check out some of the stylish choices in our review of orthotic-friendly boots. The Arcopedico Liana is an orthotic-friendly tall boot that is also a vegan choice.
Before you splash in the puddles or walk the dog, consider grabbing Kamik rain boots which allow you to add orthotics or inserts. We’ve also found supportive water shoes that allow for orthotics in the Chaco Outcross Evo. It accommodates a wide forefoot, high arches and orthotics. You can find them on Amazon and Zappos.
If you’re required to wear the orthotics all the time, finding sandals that work for you during the warmer months can be a struggle.
It can also be a challenge to get a perfect fit when you are using an orthotic in your sandals. You may have to trim the insert a bit or order a slightly larger size sandal.
Another category of shoes to consider if you are looking for orthotics are shoes that already come with extra arch support or even built-in “orthotics”.
We’ve had many readers say that Naot shoes, boots and sandals, made in Israel, are one of the only brands they wear where they don’t actually need to put the orthotic in to feel supported.
Here are few other styles and brands to consider in this category.
The ABEO nancy is an on-trend bootie style shoe that comes with a built-in orthotic. And check out our review of comfortable dress shoes for women, where you’ll even find some orthotic friendly options. One choice is the Naturalizer Work Vanecia, a traditional black leather pump with an Ortholite insole.
If you’re hoping to be able to go orthotic-free in your summer sandals, one reader suggests Finn Comfort Sandals. “Though I use Superfeet insoles in most other shoes, The Finn Comfort give me great support without swapping out the insole. My issues are bunions and extra-wide feet,” she writes.
If your doctor or even a helpful co-worker suggests you try orthotics to help with foot, ankle or lower back pain, it can be helpful to understand a bit about what orthotics are supposed to do and why our feet today may benefit from them.
The Arthritis Foundation has some helpful information on orthotics after studies found folks with RA-related foot pain may benefit from wearing them. They say orthotics “redistribute weight and relieve pressure on sensitive areas of the feet, providing cushioning.” This helps move around the impact and pressure your meet manage each time you step. They even report there’s some evidence orthotics can slow the progression of arthritis in some people.
“Orthotics stabilize and control your feet and lower limbs, allowing other components of your treatment to be more effective.” that’s according to a website for physical therapists. They go on to explain how we humans used to walk barefoot and be outdoors hiking, walking to get around and survive. But now we walk on hard surfaces, in shoes, most of the time. In addition, people are less physically active which makes the impact harder on our bodies when we do get out and move.
Experts say our shoe choices also can create a need for orthotics. People often choose unsupportive footwear which may look cute or trendy but which further stresses our feet as we move by creating extra pressure in the mechanics of our feet and ankles.
You may be wondering what exactly orthotics can do for your body. As you step, your feet act like the shock absorbers as the weight of your entire body impacts the ground and releases. Orthotics can help by properly redistributing all that weight and pressure in your feet. According to the arthritis foundation, they can “redistribute the biomechanical load” that your foot, arches, tendons, joints absorb. For us gals with high arches, flat feet or even collapsed arches from dealing with rheumatoid arthritis, orthotics may bring extra cushion and needed support to help our feet as they support our steps. According to AAOS, the purpose of shoe insert orthotics is to “create a solid foundation for the body.”
Wearing orthotics may help with low back pain, knee pain, shin pain, or Achilles pain. There’s some good news that orthotics can bring help and sometimes relief from a variety of foot conditions as well. Here’s at some of the conditions experts say orthotics may help:
For rheumatoid arthritis: treatment for this condition usually involves medication and reducing stress on your affected joints. The arthritis foundation said “The best evidence of benefits with orthotics is for reducing foot pain in people with RA.” They may help by slightly changing our gait and muscle activity, taking stress of our feet in subtle ways.
For morton’s neuroma: custom orthotics which support the foot and toes may help relieve the pressure by giving those toe bones a cushiony lift that takes pressure off the nerve.
For hallux rigidgus/limitus: ladies dealing with this know the need to take pressure off that stiff big toe joint. your doctor may prescribe orthotics to help. There are even full length shoe inserts specifically for Hallux Rigidius that may help reduce the required movement in that painful joint as you step.
For plantar fasciitis: treatment for this painful condition may involve padding or inserts in your shoes. most podiatrists will recommend at least a half inch heel to take the stress off your fascia and orthotics may help.
For ball of foot pain: the extra shock absorbing in some orthotics may help your foot as it heals.
Here’s some advice to get you started if your doctor prescribes custom orthotics or if you’ve picked up some pre-made orthotics to see if they help reduce your discomfort by adding additional support to your footwear.
First off, experts say don’t wear them all day right away. “Although some people adapt to foot orthoses very quickly, you should gradually adjust to them by wearing them a few hours more each day,” according to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Experts suggest you avoid wearing new orthotics for that outdoor hike or long day at work until you are fully comfortable using them. And once the discomfort goes away, experts say going back to basics with some time in bare feet may help, depending on your foot condition and your doctor’s instructions. “It is beneficial to also go barefoot for some period during the day when you are ‘healed’ from the aggravating condition to aid in strengthening the foot & leg muscles.”
Here’s a surprising rub with orthotics. It is possible you may develop blisters or rub from wearing new orthotics at first. The good news is you can treat those spots with old fashioned Vaseline right where it is rubbing.
Many users find they may need to slightly trim orthotics to get the right fit inside their shoes or boots. Here’s a video with advice on how to that.
We hope our overview of shoes and orthotics is helpful as you look for choices to help keep your feet comfortable and stylish this year.
Have questions about orthotics or want to share your latest shoe find with us? Contact us on our active Facebook page or comment below.
American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society – FootCareMD patient information page on orthotics
Palo Alto Medical Foundation orthotics information page
Arthritis.org – Arthritis Foundation: shoe inserts for foot pain information page.
Physiotherapy New Zealand “Why do we need orthotics” – helpful article on background reasons for orthotics
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