What are Shoe Insoles?
If you’re looking for footwear that increases performance and helps decrease common ailments, you’ve probably heard of shoe insoles. But what are insoles, and how do they support your body and overall wellness?
Our feet are our foundation. Weakness, misalignment, or other issues in our foundation can cause a ripple effect upward, predisposing us to several ailments and injuries. While it may not be apparent day-to-day, over time, poor structural support at our feet negatively impacts our overall wellness. Proper structural support, on the other hand, keeps us up and about, engaged in the activities we love.
Typically made from foams or plastics, insoles are special, often customized shoe inserts that provide additional structure to better support our feet, usually targeting the heel, arch, and forefoot. Thanks to proper support at our lowest extremities, insoles help us move with precision and stability, increasing our comfort and optimizing our physical capabilities. And with the help of biomechanical innovation such as Baliston’s gait analysis technology, insoles can be matched to your unique walking DNA to further reduce fatigue, pain, and prevent injury.
Stability and consistency from shoe insoles
Baliston’s Director of Clinical Application and Movement Science, Dr. Chris Proulx, says that the core benefit insoles provide to all users is greater stability when walking and standing. Insoles are designed to keep your feet and whole body properly aligned, which allows for efficient management of the forces of gravity that operate on our bodies while we’re both moving and still. In addition to alleviating undue stress on your body, the added benefit of greater stability is more consistency in movement patterning. Inconsistent movement, like when your body fails to balance while walking, can lead to injury and pain in the short and long term.
Stability and consistency in movement start with the proper foot alignment that insoles provide. When properly aligned, both feet should be symmetrical and parallel, like you’re walking or standing on ski tracks, without external or internal rotation. In addition, the weight of your body should be evenly distributed across the soles of your feet. When your weight falls too much on the outside of your feet, this is called oversupination. Too much weight on the inside of our feet is called overpronation. Both supination and pronation can be caused by injury, muscle weakness, or structural elements, which may be hereditary, like a high arch.
While overpronation is more common, both overpronation and oversupination can cause pain, injury, or health problems in other parts of the body, not just at the feet and ankles. When supination, pronation, and other misalignments are corrected, aches and pains can subside, and overall posture can improve.
The foot-back connection
Lower back pain is one of the most commonly experienced types of pain, and it’s no mystery why. The lower back area is a crucial intersection of body systems– it is a place where the forces generated by our hardworking feet travel back up through our legs to our hips and spine, and conversely, where the forces of gravity drop down through our spine to spread into our hips, legs, and feet. Any misalignment above or below can ultimately register at the lower back, even if that misalignment is not felt at the origin site.
For example, an athlete may not know they are overpronating but may experience persistent back pain. Insoles can help reduce lower back pain by correcting misalignment of the feet and ankles, helping to rotate and align the bones of the legs and the hips into their correct positions, thereby alleviating undue stress on the lower spine. Advanced knowledge of and correction of misalignments in the feet may reduce or eliminate low back pain even before its inception.
Health benefits around the ankle mobility
Over–supination and overpronation can also affect the ankle. For example, when you overpronate, the subtalar joint, located between the heel bone and the talus bone (lower part of the ankle joint) takes on excess stress. Because this part of the body is so close to several vital bones, joints, and tendons (including the Achilles tendon), this extra stress can predispose walkers to several injuries, including Achilles tendonitis, ankle sprains, and lateral ankle sprains. Not just people with overpronation or oversupination can benefit from an insole that supports this area of the body, it’s helpful for everyone. Especially athletes and active wearers, who can benefit dramatically from a decreased risk of injury.
Reducing knee pain
Patellofemoral pain, or knee pain, can also be addressed by insoles. According to Dr. Proulx, the most sensitive region in the knee is the infrapatellar fat pad behind the kneecaps. When the knee is improperly rotated due to poor support and stability at the feet, the friction between the kneecap and the infrapatellar fat pad increases, causing pain. Insoles can reduce this friction by providing the support necessary to reposition the knee back toward its ideal alignment.
The body’s interconnected foundation
Medical professionals and scientists are finding more and more evidence about all the ways our bodies are connected. If one part of our body is not performing correctly, other parts of our bodies are forced to pick up the slack, causing pain and increased injury risk over time. Insoles support overall wellness by providing additional structure and support at our foundation: our feet. Investing in insoles is a step towards improved movement and increased wellness.
Many designers and companies in the fashion industry are tackling this challenge head-on. In 2018, leading members of the apparel industry signed the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, which committed to a plan for net zero emissions in the industry by 2050 in keeping with the UN-endorsed 1.5 °C pledge. To stay on track for 2050, the charter included a plan for a 30% reduction in emissions by 2030, which was eventually increased to a 45% reduction.
The ways that companies have chosen to commit to this goal are diverse. From recycling old clothing to synthesizing more environmentally conscious fabric options, companies are innovating stylish designs and fighting climate change at each step. Here is how leaders in the fashion industry are working towards the goal of net zero carbon emission.