Should an orthotic insole be hard or soft? Which is better for my feet? Trained footwear specialists or pedorthists are asked these questions all the time. One of the most common misconceptions is that softer inserts are better because they provide more cushion. However, when it comes to relieving foot pain, the solution isn’t just about cushioning, but also support.
DO I NEED A SOFT OR RIGID INSOLE?
Soft insoles work differently depending on the type of material they are made from.
- Insoles made from foam are best for cushioning, support, and pressure relief.
- Gel works well for shock absorption, to increase your balance, and/or relieve pressure on sores or uncomfortable areas of your foot.
People with foot deformities (bunions, hammertoes), arthritis, and diabetic ulcers can all benefit from soft insoles. This type of insole is constructed from soft materials and may extend along the length of the entire foot. They offer superior cushioning, but often do not address the structural support needs of the foot.
Rigid insoles are used to restrict or control abnormal foot movement. It’s solid construction controls foot movement to ensure correct alignment. Rigid orthotics are constructed from plastic, carbon fiber, or other rigid materials. They are often intended to be worn in walking or dress shoes and can help alleviate or eliminate foot pain, aches, or strain in the lower limbs. The major drawback of rigid insoles is they often can be uncomfortable to wear.
Semi-rigid insoles combine the cushioning benefits of a soft insole with the motion-controlling aspects of a rigid one. This insole type usually combines layers of soft materials with a reinforced rigid shell to provide a composite structure that improves balance, with degrees of cushioning. This type of insole is excellent for athletic use, especially for athletes who experience pain while training or competing. Children with certain issues, including flat foot conditions, can also benefit from this particular orthotic style.
WALKING ON SOFT VERSUS HARD SAND
Another helpful way to think about why a soft insert might work better for you versus a rigid insert is to compare it to walking on the beach. The soft sand looks nice and feels nice to lay on, but try walking on it. It’s not easy! The firm sand is pretty easy to walk on. The soft sand makes the muscles of your foot and ankle work harder to stabilize and propel your body forward, while the firm sand provides a stable base of support to walk on.
If you have a soft or a gel insert in your shoe, you have to work harder with every step to stabilize your foot. It might feel good for a few steps, but with 2,000 steps in a mile, that’s a lot of extra work over time. This is why soft and rigid materials combined into a semi-rigid insole is often the most ideal. This hybrid insole provides the best of each insole into one with the most benefits.
BUY A SEMI-RIGID INSOLE WITH GOOD REVIEWS
Semi-rigid insoles are often called the next best thing next to custom orthotics. SelectFlex offers the features and benefits of soft and rigid insoles with a deeply cushioned, stabilizing heel cup that also had an adjustable arch with three support settings. Don’t take our word for it. Read a few of the 5-star customers reviews on Amazon.
What makes SelectFlex unique is a patented dynamic arch that lifts your arch with every step to provide dynamic support to your feet. You can ‘Dial-in Comfort and Adjust Away Pain” from the three custom support settings. The SelectFlex dynamic arch will also mold to your unique arch shape over time for maximum comfort.
With SelectFlex’s lifting arch returning energy to the foot, you have more energy at the end of the day. Here’s how much energy SelectFlex returns to your foot per mile:
- Setting 1: about 20,000 lbs
- Setting 2: about 25,000 lbs
- Setting 3: about 30,000 lbs
That will certainly add up at the end of the day, not to mention TGIF end of week. Uniquely, SelectFlex is the only insole that returns energy to your feet and is worth a look from anyone with foot, joint, or lower back pain.