Despite the ongoing controversy regarding the effectiveness of arch supports and orthotics for fallen arches, their use remains the cornerstone in controlling the normal foot functions, weight distribution, and weakening the impact forces experienced on the soles of the feet during walking in overweight or obese people with flexible flat feet.
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 entire body. To understand this metaphor, imagine a house built on a shaky foundation. The house might stand for a while, but with time, the cracks in the foundation can cause it to collapse. Similarly, you cannot expect to have more stability throughout your feet without first having adequate arch support.
Even though your feet possess 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 the gravity loading and shock forces that the ground is bringing on them while you are walking and/or running.
It is a well-known fact that the majority of conventional mass-produced shoes that are available to you today are stuffed with a bunch of unnecessary bells and whistles that fail to provide the required arch support under your entire foot sole in a well-balanced manner.
Any weakness, or lack of ‘neutral’ foot positioning in your feet, any biomechanical irregularity or imbalance in your feet and ankles might increase the risk of developing postural and stress problems throughout the rest of your body – 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 obese/overweight people do to prevent the instability and weakness associated with flexible pes planus?
Properly well-designed functional shock-absorbing 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.
Fortunately, there are many varieties of fallen arches insole options designed to protect your most valuable asset – your feet! According to their function and purpose, shoe inserts for overpronation and flat feet can generally be divided into two major categories: accommodative (more flexible and soft) and functional (more rigid) fallen arches insoles. Both types have different functions.
The purpose of the first type of orthotics is to provide cushioning effect, a little bit of support necessary to aid the feet’s normal function, as well as to decrease the excessive pressure and strains on other sensitive parts of the feet that might be causing pain.
The primary purpose of the second type is to enhance the stability of the feet by not allowing the arches to collapse or flatten, and to control and/or improve the function of the feet. They can prevent or lessen the strains, aches and pains in the legs, thighs, and lower back.
Before you rush out to choose and buy the best pair of arch support insoles for your flat feet, 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 is a vital concern as well. There is no single orthotic insole model that works best for everyone. 4.) Consider whether you want half or full insole length. 5.) What exactly do you plan to use them for – runs, works, hikes, sports or just wallks? 6.) How much money are you willing to spend? Knowing how much you are willing to spend on a pair of shoe insoles helps narrow down your choices.
When all of these things have been taken into account you will have a good idea of what model of insoles will be best suited for your specific needs and requirements.
In this review, I am going to try and list three different types of orthotics for fallen arches that I believe are the most helpful for overweight people. I sincerely hope that at least one of these options will meet your requirements.
Best Exteroceptive Orthotics For Fallen Arches
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) insoles so different from all other traditional over the counter arch supports and orthotics for falt feet 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.
The Barefoot Science claims that their unique system can alter or improve the shape and function of the fallen arches in 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 act on your feet at the moment of initial contact (heel strike and toe-off) with the ground during walking or running.
Apart from that, the 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 low arched feet must provide firm yet flexible support for your arches rather than pillow-like cushioning, and be firm enough to not bend under the weight of your body 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 fallen arches.
Best Orthotic Insoles For Overpronation and Pain Relief
Powerstep Pinnacle Maxx Orthotic Insoles
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 shock-absorbing insoles capable of preventing and/or relieving a wide range of foot conditions.
Amazingly versatile, the Powerstep Pinnacle Maxx orthotic insoles 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 those 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 aids the body’s natural shock absorption and 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 evenly distribute the initial impact/pressure and forces of your body weight over a greater percentage of the surfaces of your feet.
Overall, the Powerstep Pinnacle are an effective, efficient, and economical over the counter arch supports for flat feet orthotics, and might be a good option for heavy people who choose 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 Sports Shock Absorbing Insoles For Running, Walking And Exercising Activities
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 arch supports and orthotic insoles.
As you may know, according to Newton’s 3rd law for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction force. With every step you take when your feet (particularly the heel bones) hit the ground, the shock wave is transferred up your legs to your hips and spine. The absence of shock absorption and support under your soles, especially for people who have flat feet will allow the forces generated from forefoot and heel-strike to make their way up the body. The effect of that pounding (impact ) on your feet can negatively impact all your joints and muscles from the ankles to the knees to the hips and the back.
Why should you needlessly put your feet and overall health and wellbeing at risk while you play your favorite sport 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 insoles for shoes that Currex have, the RunPro low-profile ones are the most appropriate insoles for people with flexible flat feet. 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/running, 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 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 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).
Every one 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.
If you have flexible flat feet, then you should already be very well aware of the fact that preventative care of your feet and legs is essential if you want your feet to function properly, remain strong and healthy and as pain free as possible.
Several Reasons Why Overweight People Who Have Flexible Flat Feet 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 help to prevent or attempt to correct fallen arches
- they help to realign the weight more evenly on the foot and absorb the impact from the ground contact
- they may alleviate or prevent foot aches, leg, knee, hip or back pain
- 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 may help to prevent common sports injuries
- they may 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 feet.
It is important to remember that regardless of whether your foot problem is minor or substantial, the effectiveness and real benefits of any one of these three different types of flat feet insoles is dependent largely upon your weight, shoe style, lifestyle, and your level of activity. 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 combination of both features ensures greater ankle and arch stability which keeps your ankles from excessive pronation and supination that your feet may experience when they strike the ground during walking or running.
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 people with flat feet who are overweight/obese 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 orthotic insoles 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 the 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 RunPro 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 (if not 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!
As your body’s main base of support, your feet are so important to how the rest of your body functions, investing in good, proper fitting shoes and quality arch support insoles that are appropriate for your foot type and level of activity is one of the most important investments that you could do for yourself and for your feet too.
Lastly, one question still does not seem to have received a clear answer: what are the best shoe insoles for my flat 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 different types of fallen arches insoles and considering all the factors stated above, you will easily be able to decide which one would be the best option for you.
If you are interested in buying some of these truly best over the counter arch supports insoles for flexible flat feet and overpronation, 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.