A house built on a firm and well-planned foundation will provide support for the rest of the structure. Similarly, your feet are like the foundation of a house, they are a complex and delicately balanced anatomical structure, that provides balance, mobility, and support of your body. The ideal balance is essential to maintain your normal foot comfort, and the maintenance of this balance depends to a large extent on the healthy natural foot function.
Even though your feet possesses natural cushioning and rebounding “spring-like” flexibility characteristics that allow them to bear the load of your body’s entire weight and the weight of any additional load carried by you; – your feet (especially the medial longitudinal arches) alone are incapable of effectively overcoming many of the stress and the shock forces encountered during your everyday activities.
It is a well-known fact that most conventional mass-produced shoes are not capable of absorbing the shocks and impacts that your feet receive while walking and/or running. Further, they fail to provide the required arch support for your feet in a well-balanced manner.
Any weakness, instability or inadequate support in your feet, which are your body’s base of support may affect the stability and balance of your entire body. Besides, even minor biomechanical imbalance in your feet and ankles might increase your risk of developing fallen arches (flat feet), injuries or chronic aches and pains in your calves, knees, hips, and/or even your spine; all because of the abnormal strain on which your foot supportive muscles, tendons, and ligaments are subjected. Just imagine an igloo built with a couple of misaligned blocks in its foundation, it will fall. The same would happen with the weakened feet.
So what can you do to prevent the instability and weakness in the feet?
Properly well-designed functional foot insoles that give adequate support to both the arches and heels of your feet are a good start to addressing flexible flat feet and fallen arches.
Today there are a variety of different types of insoles and orthotics on the market, some are designed to correct the “foot drop”, while others are intended to enhance the stability of the feet by not allowing the arches to collapse.
According to their function, arch support insoles can be divided into two major categories, namely accommodative and functional foot insoles.
Before you rush out to choose and buy the appropriate insoles for your case, though, there are several important things that you should take note of, for example:
1.) Determine what type of foot arch you have – whether it is flat foot, normal arch, or high arch. 2.) What type of shoes do you currently wear, their insole’s volume? 3.) Your body weight. 4.) Whether you want half or full insole length. 5.) What do you plan to use them for exactly- runs, walks, works, hikes, sports? 6.) How much money are you willing to spend?
Only when all of these things have been taken into account can you find the insoles that are truly suited for your specific needs and requirements.
In this review, I am going to try and list three different options that I believe are the most helpful insoles for flexible flat feet or low arched feet. I sincerely hope that at least one of these options will meet your requirements.
Best Exteroceptive Insoles
Barefoot Science Foot Strengthening Insoles
Barefoot Science are exteroceptive-based insoles. As such, they are designed to help re-establish the arch shape and facilitate muscular stability (proprioception) in the feet. You might not have heard about Barefoot Science, but the Canadian company has been in the insole industry for over 2 decades.
Without a doubt, the thing that makes Barefoot Science (B.F.S) distinctly different from all other traditional types of foot insoles or orthotics out there is their unique variable arch-activation foot strengthening system. The basic concept behind the Barefoot Science’s arch progressive insole system is to help strengthen and/or rehabilitate your strained and weakened foot muscles and associated tendons and ligaments so that they are better able to support your foot’s arches.
The insoles themselves are provided with six sets of interchangeable, height-variable, foot-stimulating plugs, which are placed into the socket located on their underside. All the sets are made of different types of foam, and each of the pairs has density and resiliency greater than that of the previous ones. Each of the six sets is worn for a set period before replacing it with the next pair in order of the progressive sequence starting from the shortest/softest ones and ending with the tallest/hardest ones.
Barefoot Science claims that their unique system can alter or improve the shape and function of the fallen arches of people with flexible flat feet in a manner that the ordinary insoles would not. In reality, the mild upward pressure applied by the resilient plugs in response to the downward pressure on the plugs by the feet stimulates the corresponding muscles inside the foot (known as intrinsic muscles) to contract and strengthen in an effort to lift the fallen arches up to their normal position.
On the underside in the heel and the ball area, each of the insoles is reinforced with compression-resistant foam material called Poron. This type of foam effectively absorbs much of the impact forces that occur in your feet at the moment of initial contact (heel strike and toe-off) with the ground during walking or running.
Apart from that, a combination of hard foam bottom layer which is an open-celled breathable material, bonded to a medium density middle (EVA) layer, topped by a thin upper polyester fabric layer makes the Barefoot Science insoles very comfortable to wear.
Typically, a well-constructed pair of functional insoles for flexible flat feet must provide firm support rather than pillow-like cushioning, and be durable enough to maintain their shape during usage.
What these insoles will do is help enhance the strength of the intrinsic muscles of your feet using the progressive foot strengthening system. Also, these semi-rigid insoles provide the most effective preventive, rehabilitative, and performance-enhancing benefits needed by people with flexible flat feet.
Best Insoles For Arch Support and Pain Relief
Powerstep Pinnacle Maxx Orthotics
PowerStep is another top foot care industry-leading brand with a very strong reputation for manufacturing high-quality orthoses. With over 30 years in the market, they have been producing top-quality, long-lasting orthotics capable of preventing and/or relieving a wide range of foot conditions.
Amazingly versatile, the Powerstep Pinnacle Maxx orthotics offer a unique combination of foot control, very good arch/heel support, shock absorption, and overall comfort.
Each of the two Pinnacle Maxx orthotics is made of closed-cell, low-density (E.V.A) shock-absorbing foam base layer, an open-cell (HypurCel ) foam inner layer, a well-shaped, semi-flexible arch/heel support cradle that is sandwiched between the two layers, and an additional third upper fabric layer for extra comfort.
Together, all the layers form a perfect semi-rigid (moderately-flexible) functional foot insole which will not only provide plenty of heel and arch support to your flat feet but will also provide other incredible benefits to your feet such as; improved gait and balance, enhanced comfort, aiding in the prevention of injury, some foot/heel pain relief associated with plantar fasciitis, and other long term beneficial effects on your feet and body in general.
One of the benefits of such a design is that the stability/support cradle, which extends from the arch to the heel provides adequate support to the medial arch, as well as balance and stability for the heel. To better understand the function it performs, imagine, during walking or running your body’s entire weight is concentrated on the heel of the foot, the main purpose of the cradle is to distribute the initial impact/pressure of your body weight over a greater percentage of the surfaces of your feet.
Overall, the Powerstep Pinnacle orthotics are an effective, efficient, and economical alternative for anyone who chooses not to go the custom-fabricated route. They not only provide your fallen arches with true biomechanical support, long-term comfort, and control, but they can also help to treat plantar heel pain.
Best Shock Absorbing Insoles For Running And Walking
Currex RunPro Insoles
The third-best shoe insoles for flexible flat feet included in this list are the full-length, total contact low profile RunPro by Currex. Currex is another leading brand and a serious contender in the foot insole industry. Today, they are by far regarded as one of the top manufacturers of high-quality insoles.
As you know, every day, your feet (especially the arches, heels and balls) are subjected to great mechanical stress and shock load during walking and running. So, you should be very well aware of the fact that preventative care of your feet and legs is essential if you want to keep them healthy.
Why should you needlessly put your feet at risk when there are affordable solutions out there from manufacturers such as Currex? Currex offers a large selection of sport-based insoles, each engineered and designed to meet the specific needs and requirements of runners, joggers, triathletes, ultramarathoners, walkers, cyclists, and all other high-impact sports.
Among the many different types of foot inserts that Currex have, the RunPro low-profile ones are the most appropriate insoles for people with flexible flat feet, since their inner geometry has a different arch profile, as well as different rigidity/support level than the other types.
Perhaps the most notable aspect that sets Currex RunPro apart from other (Generic/Off-The-Shelf) insoles is that they are designed and engineered to work in synergy with the natural motion of your feet during walking, not against them. This allows and, in fact, assists in your normal gait (walking).
Another main thing that makes Currex RunPro insoles so different from all the other inserts is their dynamic medial arch support system that is capable of providing you with superior support, flexibility, and a greater sense of comfort to your fallen arches.
One of the major benefits and uniqueness of Currex’s 3-D behavioral arch support system, is its ability to provide you a smooth transition between the six phases of your walking cycle 1) heel strike, 2) foot flat, 3) mid-foot, 4) heel-rise, 5) toe-off, and 6) swing. Besides, each insole features a well-defined deep heel cup, which holds the heel in a neutral, vertical position and prevents your ankles from inward/outward rolling while walking or running.
Each of the two insoles is composed of three distinct foam layers with different hardness plus three more additional elements embedded firmly to the underside layer in the zones of greatest impact (heels, arches, and balls).
Each of these components has its purpose, and all are arranged and bonded to each other in such a manner to provide your feet a desired blend of comfort, low weight, support, flexibility, motion control, cushioning, and shock absorption. Currex is one of the very few insole brands that offer such a unique design that provides you with all those features which make your walking and running as easy as you have always wished for.
The first top cover layer is breathable perforated microfiber fabric that effectively absorbs and dispatches the perspiration generated from the foot to the second layer and enhances your foot comfort even more.
The CurEVA material that the middle and bottom layers are made of is a closed-cell type polymer foam known as ethylene-vinyl acetate. The intermediate layer is softer and less dense than the bottom layer which is relatively firmer and denser but paired together they form a semi-rigid and thin insole which will yield the necessary protection and arch support that your flat feet need during walking or running.
Also, the lower layer of each insole is featured with a plurality of small evenly-spaced holes throughout its entire length, which not only enhances their “breathability” and cool ability but also lessens their overall weight and contributes to the general wearing comfort of your shoes.
As for the blue, and orange colored pads made of medium-density Poron, and the plastic arch cradle embedded underneath the base layer of the insoles, this feature also plays a vital role as it acts as a shock absorber under your heels/balls and arches respectively.
The stability, support, flexibility, and cushioning provided by the Currex RunPro insoles can assist your feet in maintaining your foot arches in their neutral normal position.
Several Reasons Why You Should Wear Shoe Insoles
There are a variety of compelling reasons why the use of foot insoles should not be considered only as comfort-enhancing devices for walking, here is just a few:
- insoles prevent or correct flat feet
- they assist in the alleviation of foot aches and pains
- they do have a role in preventing the development of foot complications later in life
- they enhance balance, proprioception, gait, and posture control
- they help to increase the sense of foot stability and mobility
- they assist in the prevention and/or treatment, management of plantar fasciitis
- they help prevent common sports injuries
- they extend the lifespan of the shoes
In conclusion, I would like to briefly highlight some of the pluses and minuses of each one of these insoles so you are better able to determine which one of them will work best for your low or flat foot arches.
It is important to note here that regardless of whether your foot problem is minor or substantial, the effectiveness and real benefits of any one of these three types of insoles reviewed depend largely on your shoes. Your foot insoles and shoes must work together as a single unit if you want to get the most out of the support that these insoles are offering you.
One of the greatest advantages and benefits of wearing the Barefoot Science insoles is that they are capable of strengthening and enhancing the natural structure of your feet, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Barefoot Science’s patented insoles system actually will force every part of your foot to develop strength in the arch muscles, thus when your tendons and muscles supporting your arches become stronger and the arch support is removed, they will be able to sustain your foot arches in their normal raised position.
Their extremely low-profile design is also an advantage, as it allows them to be placed easily in most types of shoes whether they are casual dress, sportswear or formal. They are not only very well-designed and durable, but they are also ultra light-weight and flexible.
Among their disadvantages, the main one is that they are more expensive than either the Pinnacle Maxx and the RunPro. And the second one is associated with the lack of an existing heel cup for added support and stability.
It is important to note, however, that unlike the other two types of insoles, the concept of Barefoot Science design is focused more on the strengthening and rehabilitation function of the foot and less on the heel support. The purpose of this is to provide you with a near “barefoot” experience, so a zero heel drop is needed.
Certainly, one of the most outstanding advantages of the Pinnacle Maxx orthotics from Power Steps is their high level of support and increased foot stability. On one hand, the secret of the design lies in the well-formed, deep heel-cup on the inside of the insoles and the square-shaped ones at their underside. And on the other hand, in the extra stability element (arch cradle) sandwiched in between the layers.
The benefit of this design enables the Pinnacle Maxx to bear much more weight compared to the traditional insoles. That allows the insoles to be used by individuals who are overweight or by those who are involved in sports such as, running or cycling. By the way, the Powerstep Pinnacle Maxx insoles are the most rigid and hardest of the three insoles followed by Barefoot Science.
Two of the potential disadvantages of the Pinnacle Maxx orthotics are that they are made of high-quality foams and that it takes a relatively long time for them to be “broken in” to be comfortable and to function properly as compared to the other two options! And the second one is that their design is such that if your shoes are too narrow for the insole width they will not fit. Further, they cannot be used in shoes already having built-in arch support, since the combination may be too bulky for comfort.
Other than the fact that the RunPro from Currex are lightest, softest and most flexible of the three reviewed insoles, the first, and perhaps the key advantage of RunPro design over the other two options comes from their unique dynamic midfoot arch technology. The second important advantage of RunPro insoles is that the top fabric and base foam layer are perforated in a manner that creates an air pumping effect while walking, and this improves the circulation inside your shoes and helps to dissipate the heat and perspiration generated by your feet.
Another major advantage of the Currex insoles is that they are thinner, more flexible and more lightweight of the three reviewed insoles so can be accommodated in any type of shoes. Further, they have a zero mm offset design so as not to alter the natural drop of your shoe’s geometry.
Among the disadvantages of the RunPro insoles is that they have a short lifespan compared to either the Powerstep Pinnacle Maxx and Barefoot Science. The other disadvantage is that the base of the insoles tends to replicate the geometry of the last bottom shape of the shoe’s, and therefore cannot always be transferred from one pair of shoes to another.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Even though the feet are one of the most valuable assets a person has, unfortunately, there are a large number of people who do not pay the necessary attention to their feet, and who still do not realize (or at least underestimate) the vital role that the feet play in the overall well-being of a person.
I think every one of you must understand the value of your feet. Not only must every one of you understand the value of your feet, but every one of you must make your foot health a priority because by taking good care of your feet now while they are still healthy, you can better ensure that they will serve you for years to come!
Investing in good, proper fitting shoes and quality arch support insoles that are appropriate for your foot type and level of activity is the smartest and the least thing that you could do for yourself and for your feet too.
One question still does not seem to have received a clear answer.
What are the Best Shoe Insoles for my feet?
That is a logical question to ask. Unfortunately, it is impossible to answer it because of the simple reason that each person’s feet are different from the next in terms of shape and curve, and everyone’s lifestyle, activity level, body weight are different, just like we all have different fingerprints.
After weighing both the pros and cons of each of these three insoles and considering all the factors stated above, you will be able to decide which type of insoles would be the best option for you.
And lastly, if you are interested in buying some of these truly best insoles for flexible flat feet reviewed here, but you are still sitting on the fence between the three options, then you may learn a little bit more about them by clicking on the relevant link for the insoles in which you have an interest.
The additional information that you will find on the page out there will surely help you make a more informed decision and it will guide you in making the right choice among the Barefoot Science, the Powerstep Pinnacle Maxx or the Currex RunPro.