Could Shoe Inserts
help reduce your foot joint pain?

Shoe Inserts are commonly prescribed treatment for foot joint pain issues. Many foot conditions have a biomechanical component. Flat feet, or feet that over pronate, are the most common type of foot biomechanical issue. Conditions including plantar fasciitis, bunions, Achilles tendonitis , and turf toe can all be aggravated by foot biomechanics.

Not addressing the biomechanical components can greatly limit the ability to effectively treat foot pain conditions. Inserts are used to help minimize biomechanical issues and thus are an important aspect to the care plan.

What is a Custom Insert?

Inserts are designed to help provide support for the foot. A custom insert is one that is constructed specifically based on your foot.

The most common means of measuring for custom inserts is by making a mold of your foot. In one form, plaster strips are aligned on the bottom of your foot while the foot is maintained in a neutral, non-weight bearing position. The plaster dries creating a mold of your neutral foot. Another means is by using a foam box. The idea is when you stand in the foam; it conforms to your foot, creating a custom imprint of your foot. Of the two means of measuring, I prefer the plaster mold version. My opinion is that if the mold is taken when standing, the resulting mold is one in which the foot is already in the position which is what the insert should be correcting. Such a mold will be less effective.

shoe inserts

Once a custom mold of your foot is made, the mold is then used to construct the custom inserts. Construction aspects including the length and width of the shoe insert, the specific materials utilized, and amount of correction will all be based on both the foot mold and your specific foot condition.

Are there alternatives to Custom Inserts?

Yes. Custom inserts can be expensive, costing up to $350. Being that insurance companies rarely cover them, the cost can be prohibitive to some.

An alternative is an over-the-counter shoe insert. Unfortunately, there are far more inserts designed to provide cushioning then the stability that is needed. I most often recommend an insert called Superfeet . They cost less then $45 and are available in many sporting good stores. If these inserts are not available, another option is a specific model made by Spenco. Spenco most commonly makes shoe inserts with foam for cushioning. However, they also make a model that is constructed of a hard plastic bottom and a green foam covering. This is the one I recommend for a foot that over pronates.


Whatever over-the-counter shoe insert you choose for foot over pronation, make sure it is constructed of a firm material that will provide stability, not of foam for cushioning.

How do I use Shoe Inserts?

If an insert has been recommended, they should be utilized any time you are on your feet. Some mistakenly believe that they are only to be used when exercising. Because of the need to wear the shoe inserts at all times, it is important that when they are being fitted that you bring the type of shoes you typically wear with you when the mold of your foot is made. Dress shoes are often too narrow for typical custom inserts, thus more then one set may be necessary to fit your various shoes.

Another key to getting the most out of your new custom inserts is they type of shoes worn. Just because the new insert is designed to provide support does not allow poor shoes to be worn. Learn more about shoe selection by clicking on this link: shoe selection.

Finally, once you obtain your new inserts, it is important to take your time in allowing your body to accommodate to them. I typically recommend wearing the new inserts one hour the first day with adding one additional hour per day going forward. If at any time they create pain, take them out. Pain can be foot pain but may also include knee, hip, or back pain. If they consistently create pain, revisit the doctor that fit you with them and have them adjusted.

Shoe inserts can be an important part of an effective treatment program for a variety of conditions. Having knowledge of what is involved will help you in deciding how to get the most from your custom insert.

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